Supply Fails to Meet Demand

Greg Freeman , October 13, 2011
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This article appears in the October 2011 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Industrywide efforts to provide more qualified IT staff may yield improvements, but that won’t solve the problem overnight, say those familiar with the many programs now sprouting up in response to government funding.

“We’re training people as fast as we can,” says Dean F. Sittig, PhD, professor of biomedical informatics at the University of Texas School of Biomedical Informatics in Houston. “Right now the need is critical and we’re increasing the supply, but healthcare is increasing demand even faster. It looks like it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

In the meantime, Sittig says, a healthcare provider’s best course of action is to train its own clinicians for IT. The big obstacle there is that providers often don’t want to pay enough. Clinicians are used to generous salaries, he says, and they are not going to settle for less if they move over to IT.

Even finding a school from which to draw IT graduates can be tough, says Jonathan Mack, PhD, RN, NP, director of clinical research and development at the West Wireless Health Institute, a nonprofit research organization in La Jolla, CA, and program coordinator of the new graduate healthcare informatics program at the University of San Diego. The university launched the program because previously there were only two informatics programs in the state, he says.

USD’s Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science is now offering a master’s degree in healthcare informatics and a master’s degree in nursing with a specialty in informatics. The master’s in nursing will be the only program of its kind in California. Both will include a 200-hour residency and a capstone project for students to apply what they’ve learned in a clinical setting. The Hahn School also will offer a graduate certificate program in informatics that can be completed in one calendar year.

“The increasing complexity and demands of EMR implementation mean that providers will have to turn to programs like this in the future, either hiring new graduates or sending their own people through for training,” Mack says. “This isn’t something you can learn on the job. Not anymore.”                                     

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1 comments on "Supply Fails to Meet Demand"

Chris (10/13/2011 at 2:31 PM)
Even though there are quite a few graduates coming out of informatics programs, I'm getting a lot of comments from readers of my blog who got these degrees and they are going through hell landing a job because most employers want candidates with experience. If you have prior experience helping out in a project and then you get an informatics degree, your chances of landing a job right away seem to be a lot higher than those who get the degree with zero experience in the field. Also, a survey came out saying that the average nursing informatics salary is 98k, but the reality is that maybe managerial positions make that much, or consultants make that much. The rest are averaging 75k, and new graduates believe that they are being short changed when they get offers in the 60's and even low 70's as they believe they should be making 90k right out of school.




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