Most students are drawn to the pharmacy profession, at least in part, by a strong desire to help people. Pharmacists who also have specialized knowledge of data systems are able to help many more people at a time. UI pharmacy students can now take an extra year to graduate with a second high-level degree in informatics.
The combined PharmD/Health Informatics master’s degree program was launched in 2018, and is currently recruiting students.
Pharmacy Informatics is...
The scientific field that focuses on medication-related data and knowledge within the continuum of healthcare systems - including its acquisition, storage, analysis, use and dissemination - in the delivery of optimal medication-related patient care and health outcomes
On a recent day, , PhD, an adjunct faculty member at the UI College of Public Health, visited a group of Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) students who are interested in the program.
“In health policy, you’ll find that clinicians are not just seeing patients as they walk in your door,” Phillips told the group. “You’re caring for populations. And you can use information technology to measure the health of those populations for disease prevention. You can also measure cost, health disparities, and a whole host of other factors.”
Informatics pharmacists work with medication-related data and knowledge within healthcare systems to deliver optimal patient care and health outcomes.
There are many paths a pharmacist informaticist can take, Phillips said. These range from working as a clinical pharmacist and using predictive modeling to help patients at risk of disease, to working in industry, to teaching and conducting research as a faculty member supporting clinicians in their daily decision-making. “You can go into the pharmacy profession and have an edge, or you can create data and information management systems,” Phillips added.
By getting a background in informatics, graduating pharmacists can be even more attractive in the labor market. There are slated to be 14 percent more Informaticist jobs by 2022, according to a recent survey by Indeed.com.
Michael Brownlee, MS, PharmD, is among the growing number of pharmacists in the field who use informatics in their work. “Pharmacists who can navigate data systems will be highly sought after in this era of rapidly expanding precision medicine,” he said. Michael Brownlee, MS, PharmD, is among the growing number of pharmacists in the field who use informatics in their work. “Pharmacists who can navigate data systems will be highly sought after in this era of rapidly expanding precision medicine,” he said. Brownlee is an associate dean at the College of Pharmacy, and associate director and chief pharmacy officer at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics.
One of the two students in the dual degree program this year, James Bullard, told the pharmacy students that they would be surprised how quickly and how much they can learn during the program. “It’s not just academics,” Bullard added. “It’s more like an engineering degree than scientific study of information. You’re in the field getting systems to communicate with each other.”
“People who are designing the interfaces are not the people who are using them,” said Bullard. “They’re programmers. They don’t know the clinical stuff implications and so there’s this big void there.
“If you can speak both languages then that’s really valuable.”
To find out more about the program, contact Kirk Phillips.
- Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) students pause between years of pharmacy school—between P1 and P2 years—to complete the requirements of the informatics master’s degree. This is called a “step out” year.
- The Master of Science in Health Informatics (MSHI) degree is conferred after a student completes the requirements for each program. Students may attend the PharmD and graduate commencement ceremonies.
- The application deadline for the combined PharmD/Health Informatics program in 2019-20 is April 1.
- Nine of the 32 semester hours for the Master of Science degree in informatics are cross-counted with the PharmD program curriculum.
- The College of Pharmacy offers one other combined degree program, the program.