Health Informatics Practicum Overview
The Master of Science in Health Informatics is a master’s degree that can be completed 100% online in six semesters, or two full years, assuming a student takes two courses per semester. Students enrolled in this program complete ten required courses, two elective courses, and a field practicum experience.
We spoke to Nan Solomons, the field practicum coordinator for the Graduate Programs in Health Informatics, about the Health Informatics practicum experience.
What is the field practicum experience?
At UNE Online, the field practicum experience is made up of two 16-week courses taken concurrently. The two courses that make up this experience are Health Informatics Capstone (HIN 740) and Cumulative Experience in Health Informatics (HIN 745).
Health Informatics Capstone (HIN 740)
This course is part of the two-course capstone experience in health informatics. The purpose of this course is to integrate students’ cumulative experience with the body of scientific literature. Students will write a scholarly review of the literature pertaining to their experiential learning project.
Activities in this course include defining a research question, performing a literature search, appraising the literature, and writing a substantive paper using APA format in the form of a published literature review.
Cumulative Experience in Health Informatics (HIN 745)
This experiential learning course is part of the two-course capstone experience at the end of the master’s degree in health informatics. Prior to enrolling in HIN 745, students will engage with the practicum coordinator to secure a site and preceptor.
In collaboration with the preceptor and before the start of class, students will design a 120-hour project in which they can apply their skills and competencies to understand real-world healthcare concerns.
How long does a student have to complete the practicum?
HIN 745 and HIN 714 are taken together and are taught over the course of 16 weeks. Students participate in the classes in an alternating week schedule. One week it’s one class, and the next week it’s the other class, and so on.
Who is responsible for securing the practicum site?
While there is support available through the program for students looking to secure a practicum site, students are ultimately responsible for securing their own site.
What is the process to secure a practicum site?
The practicum coordinator meets with the students frequently during the pre-practicum term regarding strategy in finding a site, discerning area of interest, and developing a project plan.
Looking for a practicum site is very similar to looking for a job. The student must be able to articulate specific interests, expertise, and what value that student would add to an organization – all of which require background research and consideration. Most students have a general idea of what they would like to do for their practicum experience but may lack the preparedness to link their interests to a specific project.
For an example of how one student secured her practicum site, see how UNE Online student Janet Quiring leveraged her professional connections to help her in her search.
What help is available from the program?
The practicum coordinator for the Health Informatics program, Dr. Nan Solomons, is available to help students find their practicum site. This often entails helping students discern their interest area within the field of health informatics and exploring potential practicum opportunities among organizations within the student’s community.
There are two areas where she has found that students need the most assistance. The first area is helping students pinpoint where exactly their interest in health informatics lies. Often it is a matter of looking at previous work experiences and projects to discover a common thread.
The second, and most common, area in which she assists students is helping develop a strategy to find an opportunity. Securing a site requires persistence. Students have to be prepared to talk about their area of interest and their skills, suggest some project ideas, and explain how a practicum would benefit the organization.
What types of practicum sites are available?
There is a broad spectrum of career options open to a graduate of the UNE Online Health Informatics program; similarly, where one conducts their practicum can be just as diverse.
The UNE Online website is a great career inspiration resource, as is the blog post Top 5 Health Informatics Jobs on the Rise. Additionally, there is a wealth of resources on http://whatishealthinformatics.com/, a UNE Online website dedicated solely to the field of Health Informatics.
What does the Health Informatics job market look like?
For more workplace and practicum site examples, consider Portland, Maine, where our UNE Online offices are located. The majority of health informatics jobs in Portland are concentrated in the healthcare sector. While they represent a smaller portion of the health informatics employment market, tech firms and healthcare-focused non-profits are an emerging opportunity in the greater Portland health informatics landscape. More information on the emerging health informatics landscape in Portland, Maine can be found in our white paper, Health Informatics Jobs in Portland, Maine.
For more information
If you were to have any questions about the practicum experience or about the program, please don’t hesitate to reach out to an Enrollment Counselor at (855) 751-4445 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.