The use of data in health care is on the rise. According to a report by Market Research, the market for big data in health care is expected to increase globally to $35 billion by 2021. Through the collection, storage and analysis of this health data, organizations have the potential to save money, improve patient outcomes and increase efficiency. But to maximize these possibilities, groups need staff members who can effectively design and develop sound information systems and processes. This need is met in large part by health informatics professionals.
If you are interested in pursuing a role in this growing field – or are already working in a position and want to expand your knowledge and skill set – consider earning a Master of Science in Health Informatics (MSHI) degree. A master’s will not only increase your personal expertise in the field, but can set you apart from the competition when applying for jobs.
When applying to an MSHI program, your academic transcript is an important component of the application. Academic institutions want to ensure that you thrive in the program and are academically prepared for the rigor of master’s level health informatics courses. Consequently, to pursue a master’s in the U.S., you typically are required to show proof that you have completed a bachelor’s from an accredited institution. If the degree was not earned in the U.S., it will need to be the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree. Your undergraduate degree is not necessarily required to be in health informatics, but you will usually need appropriate work experience to demonstrate your proficiency in the field, particularly if health informatics was not the area of study for your last degree.
To ensure you are prepared for the academic rigor of an MSHI program, there is a minimum requirement of around a 3.0 or higher GPA on a 4.0 scale.
Academic experience is not the only element by which your application is judged. Your work experience is also considered. To apply to most MSHI programs, you must have some experience in healthcare, technology, or a relevant industry. Internships or clinical rotations do not typically count toward this requirement.
To present your professional qualifications in your application, you will need to provide a resume. Use a simple Word document format, as opposed to complicated templates that may be hard to download or view, and list all of your relevant professional and academic experience, under two respective headings.
Any bullet point descriptions you add under a workplace should start with an action verb and do not need to be complete sentences. As much as possible, highlight accomplishments rather than simply listing the day-to-day responsibilities that were part of the job. If you can give quantifiable examples, you will be more effective in selling your strengths.
In addition to your resume, you will generally be asked to include a completed personal statement or essay that highlights why you wish to pursue the degree.
It is important to note that admission to an MSHI program is typically based on a sum total of the required application elements. Meeting the requirements does not necessarily guarantee acceptance.
In your application, you are typically required to submit the names and email addresses of people who can provide letters of recommendation. These recommenders should not be peers or family members, but rather instructors, employers or others who can speak to your professional and academic qualifications. Be sure to ask for permission to include your recommenders’ names and contact information in your application far in advance of the deadline. That way if they are unwilling to be a reference, you will have plenty of time to find another recommender.
Education services and products company, Peterson’s, recommend asking for a reference in person if possible, as this emphasizes how important the letter is to you. But regardless of the format of the request, you should be sure to provide the person with a resume or other summary of your qualifications, as well as an overview of your goals, once he or she agrees to be a reference. Even if your recommender is already familiar with your history and future plans, it can still be helpful to see all the information on paper before beginning to write.
By representing yourself well – and being well represented by your references – you will have a better chance of obtaining enrollment to an MSHI program, such as the online program at UIC.