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Residency or Masters Degree?

Fxguy1

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Nov 4, 2010
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    Hello everyone,
    Since graduating with my PharmD in 2007, I've gone back to school and taken quite a few computer programming classes. I've almost got enough to complete an Associate Degree in Computer Programming and Database Management. So I've decided to take my clinical experience and combine it with my technical expertise in a career in informatics.
    My question is which path should I take? Should I try to get a residency and then do a second year residency in informatics, or should I go back and do an online Masters or Certificate program? Which would be better?
    Who has the best informatics program out there? I'm clueless to applying to a Masters Program. I know what needs to be done to apply and evaluate residency programs, but not sure for masters programs.
    What jobs are out there? I can't afford to take a pay cut due to student loans, so whatever job I get needs to pay as much as for a PharmD.

    Thanks for the advice!
    Tim
     

    FarscapeGirl

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      I imagine if you get a Master's in informatics, you may be able to get a job for a company that designs pharmacy software. But I'm just guessing. Why don't you look at job postings for those sorts of jobs? You might even want to contact someone and ask what they're job entails.

      Master's programs aren't too hard to get into, usually (getting into grad school had a lot fewer requirements than pharmacy school for me). You might be able to delay some of your student loans if you do go back to school.

      I'd look into if you could just do the second-year residency in informatics, since you've worked a few years. Personally, I'm not the biggest fan of residencies, but that's me, with the half pay and working long hours. Although this probably has a lot to do with the fact I already did six years of grad school where I worked long hours for low pay... ;-)

      Having these two interests gives you an advantage and an opportunity to have a unique job (during grad school, I saw that the biologists who were also skilled with math or computers were usually in great demand...). Good luck!
       

      bacillus1

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    • May 27, 2008
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        My mom knows a person who's a pharmacist at a company that makes software for PBMs. She didn't get any special training and was previously a mail order pharmacist, I believe. My mom tried to explain to me once what this person does, and I think she basically looks at the software that the programmers write and makes sure that all the clinical stuff in the software is correct. Those companies don't have the greatest job security though (pretty representative of the IT industry). This person got the job through people she knew. I don't know how feasible it is to find such a job without connections, as I would imagine this type of role for a pharmacist is pretty rare.
         
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        Fxguy1

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        Nov 4, 2010
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          Bacillus1 - For job security I'm looking more at being in a hospital environment. I've seen several positions for someone who basically has the clinical knowledge needed to determine which vendors to go with, how to assemble a system from several different parts, etc.. More of an implementation and maintenance role.

          FarscapeGirl - I've looked into trying to do a second year informatics only residency and unfortunately ASHP will not clear me for one because two of my three years experience thusfar have been in retail. I think ASHP is hurting the informatics specialty by making it a second year residency. Who wants to do a year of general residency just so they can go work in informatics? Right now I am thinking that a Masters degree would make me a candidate for more jobs than just a residency. With a Masters I could work as a Chief Information Officer, or in management. One thing I havent done is look at job postings from vendors to see what types of jobs they have.
           

          Its Z

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          May 15, 2010
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            Ok, let me retype a cliff note version.

            Little bit of history.

            Pharmacy Automation:
            About 20-30 years ago, tech savy pharmacists decided it would be a good idea to hook up a computer to a medication cabinet which brought about the Pyxis concept. Then these companies hired tech savy pharm techs and some pharmacists to enhance the product.

            Healthcare Information System:
            Familiar names include HBOC, Meditech, Cerner, Horizon Med Manager, Eclipsys etc. These are comprehensive operating system hospitals use for anything and everything pertaining to healthcare including billing, accounting, lab, dietary, and pharmacy etc.

            Along the way, PA were able to marry HIS through interfaces and what not.

            What am I trying to say:
            IT pharmacist probably has the least defined training and career path. The majority of IT pharmacists and techs became who they are through default.

            Director: "Hey Bill...will you come with me to the automation meeting with Pyxis folks and nursing?"

            Bill: "Sure..."

            That's how it happens more often than not. Bill then goes through some HIS and Pyxis training..and becomes the default "IT pharmacist" who grows with the role.

            Every hospital I worked beginning as an intern through today, I was involved with automation implementation. I even unloaded Pyxis cabinets off a truck as a DOP.. that was fun.

            So... being at the right place at the right time is critical.

            The big push today is CPOE and BMV. But I have yet to see a pharmacist being hired to do just IT.. it's typically already employed pharmacist who becomes the IT person is what I've seen typically.
             

            FarscapeGirl

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              If you want to do management, I'd really say go for the Master's. It'd be nice to get into a separate area besides healthcare and see what else you can learn. I picked up certain skills in science that give me an advantage in pharmacy. I presume the same would be for IT degrees.

              Do you have any desire to do inpatient pharmacy or more clinical pharmacy? That might be a reason to do the residency. But then doing a whole 1st year residency and then going more into management might just be a waste of a year. If you don't use that side of pharmacy, it'd be hard to pick it back up down the line.
               

              bigdogc

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                I dont post too much these days, but this caught my attention. im in a similar position. last year of pharmacy school and interested in informatics.

                i would look at unaccredited residency programs just for experience. its like a PGY2 but you dont have to a PGY1 residency. i read rxinformatics.com weekly. i would read that and maybe email some of the bloggers with more specific questions.
                 
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