Degree Options & Potential Careers
Pursuing a Ph.D. in health informatics online takes commitment and dedication, but the hard work often pays off with career opportunities. As the healthcare field continues to grow and advance technologically, the workforce also expands. Consequently, healthcare is the second most popular bachelor's program and the third most popular master's program. This creates more demand for college-level healthcare teachers.
When you earn a doctorate in health informatics online, however, opportunities extend into many other areas. Graduates can explore the medical management profession, pursue computer and information research, or apply their skills to a management analyst role in a variety of industries. This guide explores doctorate in health informatics online programs in more detail, highlighting what they entail and what career opportunities they can result in.
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Should I Earn an Online Ph.D. in Health Informatics?
While students have personal motives for pursuing a Ph.D. in health informatics online, here are some of the more common reasons:
- Growing collegiate student body: With the influx of students pursuing bachelor's and master's degrees in healthcare and health informatics, the need for instructors increases. A Ph.D. in health informatics online gives graduates the skills and qualifications to earn teaching positions and prepares them for the field's technological evolution.
- Technological developments in healthcare: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the adoption of electronic records and advanced information technology systems in healthcare calls for managers with information technology and informatics expertise. Because of that, many healthcare professionals pursue doctorates to gain specialized technology skills and position themselves for management careers.
- Broadly applicable skills: Advanced training in informatics, like that in a doctoral program, provides students with the ability to use technology to solve complex problems, monitor large-scale data groups, and improve decision-making processes. While important to healthcare, these skills also apply to a variety of other careers and industries, like business, manufacturing, logistics, and research.
- Helping others: At the core of all healthcare careers is the desire to help people. Health informatics professionals with doctorates can create change and truly impact the healthcare system overall. Through their research, design, or decision-making, graduates of these programs serve their communities and the world through their work.
What Can I Do With an Online Ph.D. in Health Informatics?
After earning a Ph.D. in health informatics online, graduates can pursue a variety of industries. Many doctoral program graduates pursue careers in academia, working as professors and performing scholarly research. Similarly, graduates can pursue research positions. While researchers typically work at universities, they can also work at government institutions, medical institutions, and private or nonprofit organizations.
In the healthcare industry, doctoral graduates tend to occupy the highest positions. According to the BLS, advancement to top-level executive positions typically requires a master's degree, with doctorates offering additional qualifications. That applies to hospitals, health centers, research institutions, and clinics.
Graduates may also seek out consulting or analyst positions -- roles that allow them to move between locations, helping other organizations make better decisions and solve problems. This type of opportunity may come from outside the healthcare world, as the technical skills acquired in a healthcare informatics doctoral program can also aid in business and manufacturing. The following list looks at some of the best options available.
These teachers instruct and train the students in colleges and universities, conduct research, and publish scholarly work. Postsecondary teachers typically instruct in their fields of expertise. Most teaching positions at the postsecondary level require candidates with doctorates, and some may need additional licensure or certifications.
Medical managers oversee clinics, departments, and facilities in the healthcare field. They do administrative work and ensure everyone follows relevant laws, policies, and procedures. While this career features varying requirements, many upper-level positions, like medical directors in large institutions, need a doctorate for consideration.
Medical scientists research, test, and run clinical trials to help improve care delivery, health outcomes, medicine, and medical care devices. While most professionals in this field have doctorates, many also have medical degrees. Health informatics doctorate holders, however, can work with medical devices, do public health research, or explore quantitative and analytical models of data collection.
Management analysts assess organizational processes and advise on ways of improving. This may include evaluating day-to-day functions, finances, logistics, or the marketplace. While many employers prefer candidates with master's degrees as a minimum, doctoral degree holders may gain access to management, senior-level, or partner positions in the organization.
Health Informatics Specialist
Health informatics specialists manage the information systems in their organizations. They may design and implement improved systems or evaluate current systems for inefficiencies. While many professionals in this field begin with a bachelor's degree, those with doctorates often enjoy substantial salary increases and management positions.
Health Informatics Ph.D. Program Overview
Every online Ph.D. program in health informatics features its own unique curriculum, and students benefit from flexibility and freedom in how they complete the degree. Yet, many of the programs share elements, and students should know what to expect from a doctorate in health informatics online program. The following information identifies some of the typical application requirements, offered courses, and outcomes available to graduates.
Application Requirements and Admission Criteria
Admission requirements for doctoral programs vary considerably, but students can expect to see some of the following criteria. Nearly all applicants need a master's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA, and some programs have prerequisites, like computer programming, statistics, and health sciences. Many doctoral programs also require GRE scores, especially for the quantitative score.
Applicants also need strong letters of recommendation and a personal statement that addresses the candidate's connection to or interest in the field or highlights intended research. While program advisors may not expect a full research plan, they often want to see what students are interested in and how that aligns with the department's goals.
Every program features a unique curriculum, but there are some common elements. Curricula often divide into sections, including core, research, clinical, and elective courses. Some programs also offer general education courses. While the following information covers a health informatics doctorate generally, students should note that some programs emphasize independent research while others feature more coursework or clinical practice.
Core courses cover topics related to the major. This includes healthcare courses, technology courses, and advanced mathematics. Depending on the program, the core section typically makes up about 35% of credit requirements. Electives also make up about 35%, but electives at the doctorate level include specialization, interdisciplinary, and complementary courses. Students use these credits to do research or branch out professionally after graduation.
The clinical and research sections make up the remaining 30% of the program, though that can vary depending on the degree. Students pursuing academia often perform more research while writing a dissertation or completing a research project whereas those pursuing a career outside academia may dedicate more time to gaining clinical experience. Below are some of the standard courses students in these programs might encounter.
- Translational Bioinformatics
In this course, students analyze biological data with the goal of improving human health, care delivery, prognostics, and diagnostics. The course trains learners to use this information to create clinical strategies that other medical professionals can apply.
- Healthcare Databases
Students learn how to operate health information systems and design databases to record information and solve healthcare problems.
- Healthcare Analytics
This course offers training in the use of healthcare information to provide improved healthcare processes. Students learn to design analytical models that generate informative insights from data.
- Clinical Software Engineering
In this course, students learn what successful clinical software needs and what the field lacks or requires. They also learn how to design and create this software.
- Advanced Research Methodology
At the doctorate level, learners must conduct intensive research, and many students continue that during their careers. This course teaches students a variety of research methods, including the ethics and challenges that go along with it.
- Project Management
This course covers the management of complex projects, including employee and volunteer training, resource allocation, and performance evaluation. Students may also learn motivation and leadership techniques.
While completing a Ph.D. in health informatics online, students gain a set of skills and competencies that set them in good stead moving forward. The advanced medical and healthcare foundation gives graduates a solid footing to manoeuvre through the healthcare system. They also gain the management skills and qualifications to pursue executive positions.
As the industry becomes more reliant on technology, finding professionals and managers with the ability to operate and oversee these advanced systems and devices is paramount. Healthcare informatics graduates gain these skills, which also translate into a variety of other industries, affording graduates more choice and flexibility in their career paths.
Finally, doctorate students generally gain excellent research, problem-solving, and analytical skills. While these abilities apply to a variety of career paths, they particularly stand out in health informatics, where much of the day-to-day work relies heavily on analysis. With an informatics Ph.D., graduates set themselves up for success.
Accreditation for Online Health Informatics Ph.D. Programs
Accreditation is one of the most important considerations when reviewing online Ph.D. programs in health informatics. Not only does accreditation verify that the school meets industry standards, but it also tells employers, funding agencies, and other schools that the applicant has the knowledge and skills that come with the degree.
At the institutional level, schools need regional accreditation from an approved accrediting agency. When it comes to programs, a variety of national accrediting agencies overlook the healthcare industry. This type of accreditation is beneficial but not always necessary. To ensure their programs received proper accreditation, students can search for schools in the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.