Your Personal Brand: Education and Experience in Pharmacy Informatics

Elizabeth Breeden, DPh, MS, CPHIT, CPEHR
Published Online: Monday, December 16, 2013
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Pharmacy informatics specialists are in high demand.
Career opportunities in pharmacy continue to evolve and they have increased significantly in recent years. These advances serve to widen the scope of career options and make it easier to achieve personal and professional success in this space. One intriguing and exciting new entry to the growing list is pharmacy informatics.

Pharmacy informatics is defined as the use and integration of data, information, knowledge, technology, and automation in the medication use process for the purpose of improving health outcomes.1 This specialty is included within the larger fields of clinical and health informatics.2

Pharmacy informatics is currently enjoying exponential growth, in large part due to the adoption and utilization of electronic health records in clinical settings across the United States. Career options are unlimited for pharmacists with this expertise and include such areas as health-system pharmacy, hospital corporations, academia, community, managed care, regulatory and government, vendor, legal, consulting, entrepreneurial, clinical research, and the pharmaceutical industry, to name a few.

Pharmacists who have education and experience in this sector will remain in high demand. This demand for pharmacy informaticians is greater than the supply can accommodate. Even better news is that we are enjoying an unprecedented opportunity as health care professionals to enhance personal branding with graduate level education and experiences in this arena. The increased demand prompted development of advanced educational offerings for pharmacists, student pharmacists, technicians, residents, and fellows. This training serves to enhance one’s development of competencies and skills in pharmacy informatics.

Innovative educational offerings in health care informatics include master’s and certificate programs, post-graduate residency, and fellowship training. Many of these programs offer flexibility in schedule and length of time for completion to meet the needs of working professionals. There is immediate return-on-investment and increased opportunity for professional advancement with updates to one’s curriculum vitae with this information and the anticipated completion or graduation date for the program. The programs often collaborate with businesses, hospitals, member organizations, and others with whom students may be paired to complete research efforts in the capstone project.

Student pharmacists also benefit from advanced educational offerings in pharmacy informatics in the form of core and elective curricular offerings, introductory and advanced pharmacy practice experiences, summer internships, and dual degree or degree-certificate programs. Benefits are realized from these experiences in that it assists a student in determining if this specialty practice is one that they would pursue as a career choice. It also reiterates the fact that pharmacy informatics is foundational in some form or fashion to most every pharmacy career choice that a student pharmacist pursues.

Introductory and advanced pharmacy practice experiences provide opportunities for initial exposure to this area and the ability to further develop competencies as a student and while still in school. Additional benefits are realized as the student pharmacist may complete the dual degree or degree-certificate program in a condensed amount of time and at a reduced financial cost than if both programs were completed separately. Colleges of pharmacy are providing these experiences as a path for students to strengthen their credentials and further distinguish themselves as leaders and innovators in this specialty area.

This is indeed a watershed moment for the pharmacy profession. Career opportunities in pharmacy informatics are more significant than ever before. Maximize those opportunities to secure further education and experience in this space and you will enhance your brand today.

Elizabeth Breeden, DPh, MS, CPHIT, CPEHR, is an assistant professor of pharmacy practice, director of graduate studies in health care informatics, and PGY2 Pharmacy Informatics program director for the Lipscomb University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Nashville, Tennessee. The Lipscomb University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences provides advanced curricular and educational offerings in health care and pharmacy informatics for student pharmacists, pharmacy residents, and other graduate students. Her most recent position was in the health-system software development industry, where she was responsible for the development of core application software in pharmacy, nursing, and computerized physician order entry. In this role, Dr. Breeden served as a principal lead in understanding the industry, defining product strategy, managing the software development life cycle, and meeting regulatory requirements for clinical products. Her research, teaching, and service activities are focused on the optimal use of health care information technology to improve patient outcomes.

References:
  1. American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. ASHP statement on the pharmacist’s role in informatics. Am J Health-Syst Pharm. 2007;64(2):200-203.
  2. AMIA Glossary of Acronyms and Terms Commonly Used in Informatics. American Medical Informatics Association website. www.amia.org/glossary. Accessed November 5, 2013. 


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