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This article is a part of a series of Many Paths of Pharmacy, which has 48 other pharmacy career paths.
Summary – Pharmacists in Informatics
As healthcare evolves, technology evolves with it. With the revolution of Meaningful Use legislation, creating an electronic medication record was mandated by the USA government, thus experts were required to initiate the program.
Pharmacy being an integral part of the healthcare system was included in Meaningful Use, and in turn, we saw a boom in the niche industry. Informatics was around before the Meaningful Use policy, but very few institutions had an informatics pharmacist (IP) on staff. An IP is an intersection between pharmacy and health information technology (HIT).
Today, Well-trained Informatics Pharmacist is a “hot commodity” in the job market as they can provide infrastructure, quality improvement, and relevant data for organizations by implementing highly complex and transformative HIT systems.
Responsibilities of an Informatics Pharmacist
Informatics Pharmacists play an integral role in a pharmacy team, interacting with staff pharmacists, clinical pharmacists, pharmacy management, quality control department, information technology department, and various healthcare professionals. Responsibilities widely vary based on the job and institution but often include developing and maintaining an IT project.
IP jobs could be further categorized into job themes such as a generalist, clinical decision support, investigational drug management, and medication safety. This list by no means is the limit of IP, as informatics is a fast-developing field with plenty of new and undefined job roles. For more details on IP roles within the healthcare team, read ASHP’s statement on pharmacy informatics.
The common responsibilities of an informatics pharmacist include:
- Collaborate with other healthcare and information technology professionals to promote efficient and safe optimal use of medications and technology
- Contribute to the transformation of healthcare IT by analyzing, designing, implementing, maintain, and evaluating information and systems
- Improve (or establish) pharmacy-related metrics through technology implementation and improvement
- Be equipped with knowledge of pharmacy practice and informatics implementation to ensure safe clinical decision-making
- Perform and present data analysis
This Pharmacy Informatics Career Description is a part of The Ultimate Guide to Pharmacy Careers, part of our future book, POTENTIAL.
Informatics Pharmacist Job Requirements
Informatics Pharmacists need a keen understanding of healthcare, information and communication technology, and how technology is used within organizations. The necessary requirements to be an informatics pharmacist include the standard PharmD degree along with some supplemental education.
There are multiple paths that can lead to being equipped for the role of an Informatics Pharmacist. The most traditional route and widely accepted is obtaining a PharmD and then completing PGY1 & PGY2 in informatics. However, multiple pharmacists transition into informatics without a residency. This is ideal considering the lack of available informatics-specific residencies.
Here is one Pharmacist from our Career Jumpstart Pharmacist group reporting her success in getting into an IT role (without a residency too)!
Software skills are near a must for IPs. Coding isn’t an essential skill, but it makes a candidate more qualified for some jobs. Computer programming, SQL, software development, system analysis, and product architecture are ideal experiences for an IP. Because of this kind of work, time management and a self-driven attitude are required. Without these skills, it will be difficult managing the different projects and deadlines.
Of course, technology skills are required, but without communication skills, few people will wish to work with you. Effective communication will be needed to gain trust and stakeholdership from interprofessional teams who may disagree with pharmacy’s technology initiatives. An IP will not exist only in a pharmacy bubble, so this means multiple professions with different agendas have to come together for safe patient care. These agendas can lead to conflicting viewpoints and desires for technology. An effective IP gifted with conflict management will be able to please all parties during the development of new tech advances.
Salary of an Informatics Pharmacist
According to Glassdoor, Informatics pharmacists on average have a starting salary of $125,000.
In a clinical setting, there may be a small room for growth within the position. Management IP positions typically offer a higher salary, and in some rare cases, bonuses are applied for project goals. For corporate positions, there can be more opportunities for growth based on performance.
Pros and Cons of Being an Informatics Pharmacist
As an informatics pharmacist, there are pros that can make the career option appealing and there are some cons but up to your discretion. Clinical informatics pharmacist allows a space to be creative, independent, problem-solving and forming new ideas. This work can be great for those that enjoy the challenge of data analysis and project development. Often informatics pharmacists have remote work options, which in most cases is considered an excellent pro.
The team environment may be a draw or repellant depending on your personal preference. And ultimately, a team environment can make or break one’s job satisfaction.
On the other hand, a perceived con can be that you will rarely have any patient interaction. Although This could be a positive for many. Another con is conflict management as disagreements within a team are unavoidable.
One con that isn’t stated enough is the consistent flux of informatics pharmacists. One example is the COVID-19 pandemic as many informatics pharmacists found themselves unemployed. Informatics can be viewed by management as a non-essential role, and if leadership doesn’t believe in the investment of technology, one could expect job security to be low. Consider asking questions about leadership’s perspective on technology investment during interviews. No job is a guarantee, but the beauty of the informatics field is that any skills developed will likely be valuable to other institutions.
How to Stand Out as a Job Candidate in Informatics
Experience, experience, experience!
Certifications can be useful, but the experience is more valuable to employers. Gain any experience by volunteering on technology improvement projects, IT meetings, quality control & improvement within your organization. The more interactions you have with IT personnel, the better.
A residency is a safe and secure way to solidify an informatics career path, but not necessary. Take technology training, including coding, data languages, data analysis, even basic programs like Excel.
Prepared by Utoy Wong, PharmD Candidate
Edited by Alex Barker, PharmD
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Alex is the Founder of The Happy PharmD. He loves anime, his family, and video games, but not in that order.