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Open Access Research article

Medical informatics in an undergraduate curriculum: a qualitative study

David L Buckeridge12* and Vivek Goel3

Author Affiliations

1 Community Medicine Residency Program, Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto, Canada

2 Stanford Medical Informatics, Stanford University, School of Medicine Medical School Office Building, Room X-215 251, Campus Drive, Stanford, CA 94305-5479 USA

3 Department of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto Simcoe Hall, 2nd Floor, 27 King's College Circle, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 1A1 Canada

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BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2002, 2:6  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-2-6

Published: 3 September 2002

Abstract

Background

There is strong support for educating physicians in medical informatics, and the benefits of such education have been clearly identified. Despite this, North American medical schools do not routinely provide education in medical informatics.

Methods

We conducted a qualitative study to identify issues facing the introduction of medical informatics into an undergraduate medical curriculum. Nine key informants at the University of Toronto medical school were interviewed, and their responses were transcribed and analyzed to identify consistent themes.

Results

The field of medical informatics was not clearly understood by participants. There was, however, strong support for medical informatics education, and the benefits of such education were consistently identified. In the curriculum we examined, medical informatics education was delivered informally and inconsistently through mainly optional activities. Issues facing the introduction of medical informatics education included: an unclear understanding of the discipline; faculty and administrative detractors and, the dense nature of the existing undergraduate medical curriculum.

Conclusions

The identified issues may present serious obstacles to the introduction of medical informatics education into an undergraduate medicine curriculum, and we present some possible strategies for addressing these issues.