An ill-defined problem : effective biomedical informatics curriculum?

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Health Informatics Society of Australia Ltd.


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Computer and Information Science / Security Research Centre (secAU)




Williams, P. H. (2010). An ill-defined problem - effective biomedical informatics curriculum?. Proceedings of 18th Annual Health Informatics Conference, HIC 2010. (pp. 101-107). Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Health Informatics Society of Australia Ltd. Available here


Objectives: Balancing all stakeholder requirements in tertiary education curriculum design is not a straightforward task. Further, in rapidly evolving disciplines such as computer science and informatics, the problem is more complex. This paper discusses the specific and generic requirements that should be included in biomedical informatics courses. Background: In areas where technology and methods of application advance at a rapid pace, the development of appropriate curriculum to meet the needs of students and other stakeholders is a challenge. A diversity of content is required, yet in sufficient depth and application to ensure its usefulness for subsequent employment. However, it is also the development of lifelong skills that industry and the community expect. Methods: This paper discusses the broad outcomes of a review of undergraduate medical informatics curriculum undertaken in 2009. It benchmarked courses offered worldwide against international informatics curriculum standards, to identify the essential components of a biomedical informatics curriculum from a multiple stakeholder perspective. It also investigated one particular course in more depth to assess generic skills development. Discussion: Whilst content is important, there are wider considerations for learning in today's applications of biomedical informatics. Graduates must be discipline competent and possess skills that make them useful to their employers and contributors to wider society. Proficiency in communication, people skills and conceptual thinking abilities are becoming increasingly as important. The paper discusses these multiple skills sets and their seamless integration to the curriculum.