Information-Based Careers for Lab Scientists

November 25, 2015
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There’s a decent chance that, if you’re reading this, you already have a job in the medical field—whether you’re a nurse, a doctor, or a laboratory pharmacist. However, have you considered more information or office-based positions that still require a good deal of specialization?

There’s a decent chance that, if you’re reading this, you already have a job in the medical field—whether you’re a nurse, a doctor, or a laboratory pharmacist. However, have you considered more information or office-based positions that still require a good deal of specialization?

There’s good reason why the medical field is still a solid path that offers a variety of career choices: the demand remains high. However, healthcare workers with more of a science-based background—say in chemistry or medical lab work—may be interested in more IT-based career options available to them.

If, for example, you started with a degree in medical lab science, you’re still likely to immerse yourself in objectives and projects similar to those undertaken in some of the labs you’re worked in. You’re likely to want to continue to make judgments about the validity of laboratory data, and you’ll probably remain interested in the process of collecting laboratory specimens or contributing to lab-based research in the pharmaceutical or medical research world.

You might be interested in heading in a more IT-based direction, while remaining in the healthcare and medical field. One possibility is a career in pharmaceutical informatics: for example, as a Pharmacy Information Officer. If you choose to focus on this type of informatics, your scientific field will focus on “medication-related data and knowledge within the continuum of healthcare systems—including its acquisition, storage, analysis, use, and dissemination.” In other words, Pharmacy Information Officers become fluent in reporting analytics in order to provide prescribers with valuable information and data related to pharmaceutical drugs being prescribed to patients.

Pharmaceutical information specialists also improve medication use “by making it easier for prescribers to reduce patient risk by providing layers of data related to prescribing habits, patient compliance, drug equivalents, and cost-savings potentials.” Therefore, although pharmacy information specialists often have the ability to practice as pharmacists, they will have taken further coursework that allows them to be able to analyze and compare large amounts of data, and then proceed to communicate facts about particular drugs or prescriptions to colleagues in the medical field—either other pharmacists, or doctors and nurses.

Another possibility is becoming a technical consultant professional. If you’re interested in this career, you’ll basically be working with medical laboratories to ensure that they are CLIA compliant. The Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) were established in 1988 and provide a baseline for the performance of lab equipment, as well as ensuring that scientists and doctors practicing in the lab are qualified and licensed appropriately. The need for a technical consultant comes about when a hospital or private practice wants to add an in-house lab to their facility. The above article includes a helpful diagram that illustrates the many tasks a laboratory technical consultant can assist with to ensure CLIA compliance.

Some other careers on the more administrative and IT side of the medical world include being an Operations Manager, a Clinical Applications Manager, and a Manager of Medication Safety and Information Technology. Healthcare IT is growing field, since it’s a specialization that’s grown out of the confluence between healthcare, data and information technology. Professionals in health informatics have the ability to not only store large amounts of medical data, but they’re also able to apply health informatics in order to improve patient outcomes and population health. Paper records are being replaced by electronic health records (EHRs), and health informatics professionals need to have the ability to understand the data as well as apply applicable information to patient records and treatments.

So, as you can see, there are a substantial number of possibilities for people with medical backgrounds who might be interested in a more office or IT-based career, as advances in technology are making it imperative that all the data connected to patient data and pharmaceutical information is accessible to healthcare professionals at a moment’s notice. Not only must that information be accessible, but it should also be easily synthesized and analyzed so that the data is useful to the medical professionals working with patients.

Luckily, new advancements in technology are constantly developing new and better ways for data to be organized and analyzed; now we simply need specialists in IT who can help facilitate the flow of information in the best, most efficient and useful way possible. If you’re up for the challenge, the demand for IT consultants, database managers, systems analysts, and the like, is high; it is up to professionals interested in the technical skills to answer the call.


Photo source: Flickr–Charis Tsevis