A curricula-based comparison of biomedical and health informatics programs in the USA

J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2011 Mar-Apr;18(2):195-202. doi: 10.1136/jamia.2010.004259. Epub 2011 Feb 2.


Objective: The field of Biomedical and Health Informatics (BMHI) continues to define itself, and there are many educational programs offering 'informatics' degrees with varied foci. The goal of this study was to develop a scheme for systematic comparison of programs across the entire BMHI spectrum and to identify commonalities among informatics curricula.

Design: Guided by several published competency sets, a grounded theory approach was used to develop a program/curricula categorization scheme based on the descriptions of 636 courses offered by 73 public health, nursing, health, medical, and bioinformatics programs in the USA. The scheme was then used to compare the programs in the aforementioned five informatics disciplines.

Results: The authors developed a Course-Based Informatics Program Categorization (CBIPC) scheme that can be used both to classify coursework for any BMHI educational program and to compare programs from the same or related disciplines. The application of CBIPC scheme to the analysis of public health, nursing, health, medical, and bioinformatics programs reveals distinct intradisciplinary curricular patterns and a common core of courses across the entire BMHI education domain. Limitations The study is based on descriptions of courses from the university's webpages. Thus, it is limited to sampling courses at one moment in time, and classification for the coding scheme is based primarily on course titles and course descriptions.

Conclusion: The CBIPC scheme combines empirical data about educational curricula from diverse informatics programs and several published competency sets. It also provides a foundation for discussion of BMHI education as a whole and can help define subdisciplinary competencies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Curriculum*
  • Humans
  • Medical Informatics / education*
  • Professional Competence
  • Program Evaluation / methods*
  • United States