To help address the growing need for a larger and more diverse workforce of healthcare data analysts, technologists and experts, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is creating “Project ENABLE,” the Extensible Network-Accessible Biomedical & Health Informatics Lifelong Learning Environment.
With a three-year, $1.6 million grant from United Health Foundation, UNC said the initiative would deliver high-quality biomedical and health informatics training — both online and in person — to people who currently lack access to training. It will focus on minority undergraduate students considering health informatics careers, as well as working professionals needing to advance their health informatics skills.
This workforce development effort will support the nation’s growing need for health informatics experts, as more health care services rely on electronic records and incorporate patient and population data into decision making. A recent report from the National Academy of Sciences shows that while underrepresented minority groups comprised 28.5 percent of the national population, they represent just 9.1 percent of college-educated Americans in science and engineering occupations. The new initiative will address both of these challenges.
The grant will support three specific programmatic activities within Project ENABLE:
• Creation of in-person summer boot camps for minority undergraduate students from local historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to expose students to health informatics principles and encourage them to explore advanced training and health informatics careers. The first boot camp is scheduled to begin this summer.
• Based upon the boot camps, UNC will develop informatics online course content that introduces health informatics to a cross-section of students and working professionals.
• Creation of a new online master’s degree to help working professionals develop expertise in health informatics, with a focus on data analytics, visualizations, statistics and database systems.