The University of Chicago is launching a master's degree program in biomedical informatics in response to the growing shortage of specialists in that field as hospitals and physician practices work to squeeze the benefit from electronic health records using data analytics and care process improvements.
The program is designed for clinicians and other healthcare professionals seeking expertise in computer science for their fields as well as computer savvy workers looking to apply those skills in the healthcare setting. The degree is offered through the university's Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies based in downtown Chicago.
“There are still shortages of these programs in general compared to the number of people who need this training,” said Dr. Samuel Volchenboum, associate professor of pediatrics and director of the Center for Research Informatics at the University of Chicago, a program founder.
The demand for health informatics workers is expected to grow at twice the rate of employment, with "strong evidence" that a workers' shortage is already here, according to a 2014 report by Burning Glass Technologies, a Boston-based human resources technology and support services provider.
The fledgling University of Chicago program enters a competitive local market, with Northwestern University in nearby Evanston and the University of Illinois at Chicago having established master's programs in medical informatics.
The University of Chicago will offer boot camps in statistics and health sciences to bring enrollees up to speed in either prerequisite area. Courses, which begin with the March quarter, can be arranged on either a 15-month or 27-month schedule, with classes meeting on weeknights and Saturdays. Physical attendance is required; there is no online option.
“Most of the people we're trying to attract have established careers and want to change careers, but are somehow bound locally,” as they live and work in geographical proximity to the Chicago metro area.