Studying Medical Informatics at the University of Amsterdam
Our health-care system can no longer function without computers that process, combine and interpret medical data. Think, for instance, of intensive care surveillance, electronic management of X-rays, electronic medical files and appointment systems at the outpatient clinic. New uses for information systems are found every day. These systems are not developed by physicians alone; they work closely together with information specialists. In order to develop applications for medical purposes, knowledge of medicine and health care is required.
For this reason the University of Amsterdam decided to develop a bachelor and a master's programme, called Medical Informatics (MI). Medical Informatics at the Academic Medical Centre - University of Amsterdam (AMC-UvA) is unique in the Netherlands. This study, evenly composed of medical subjects and informatics, provides a solid theoretical basis. MI students who have been trained at the AMC-UvA, stand out because of their profound knowledge of the medical field, which they have come to know and analyse from inside. In their analyses, MI students make use of techniques and methods that are handed to them from the information theory. Their analytical and problem-solving ability is combined with their profound insight into the most important developments in the field of information technology. It is therefore not surprising that MI students from Amsterdam are able to find a job within three months after their graduation.
- Support of individual physicians
The medical informatician is capable of supporting individual physicians in the application of information technology for patients administration, diagnostics, and selection of proper treatment methods.
- Hospital organization
The medical informatician may support a hospital in the development of systems for the storage, processing and reporting of the large quantities of information acquired annually by this organization.
- Health care
Various authorities collect population-related medical data, which serve as a basis for establishing policies. In addition, other institutions, such as the Health Care and Pharmaceutical Industry Information Supply Foundation, also have a need for databases on specific medical problems. The medical informatician can contribute to the systematization of epidemiological data.
- Medical education
The medical informatician can contribute to the development of Computer-Aided Instruction, such as simulation programs replacing laboratory animals in practicals and patients.
- Medical research
The medical informatician is a specialist, who can support the medical researcher in the application of information technology, such as measuring and test instruments and the computer as a means of reporting results. The medical informatician should have a quick grasp of the researcher's problems and be capable giving advice regarding hardware and software.
Outline of the study programme
Bachelor's programme - Introduction to the course
It is required that you speak Dutch fluently if you want to apply for the bachelor in Medical Informatics at the UvA, since all lectures are given in Dutch. The basis of medical information sciences lies in the daily practice of medicine or health care. First of all, the study provides basic knowledge of the anatomy and functions of the human body, clinical pictures, treatment methods and physicians' working methods. In addition, the MI student is taught how to handle equipment and how to apply programs and methods for storage, analysis and presentation of medical data by using information systems. During the study, basic information subjects are taught as well as the speciality subjects artificial intelligence, software engineering and image processing. The financial, ethical, legal and management aspects in health care are also dealt with. With the thus acquired knowledge, the MI graduate is able to contribute to medical-scientific research, diagnostics, and the treatment and prevention of disease. He or she may also be able to play a role in the organisation of a health-care institution.
An outline of the study programme
Methods of acquiring and processing knowledge in a form enabling purpose-oriented conclusions to be drawn, constitute the heart of the course. It also includes an intimate knowledge of methods and ways of thinking common in decision analysis and (bio)statistics, as well as knowledge of and insight into the methods of efficient, information technology-based information processing, analysis and storage.
The alumni are equipped to work as experts in the rapidly growing field of medical information technology and sciences. They are familiar with the medical language and way of thinking, and sufficiently versed in information sciences, to create links that were not achievable before.
Methods of teaching
An important aspect of the study of Medical Informatics is its small-scale education. In the last few years, there have on average been forty first-year students. This facilitates mutual contacts among students and is also conducive to the personal contacts with teachers. Several methods of teaching are employed to achieve the course objectives.
However, thanks to the comparatively small size of the year class ("year cohort"), lectures are also very interactive, whats makes it very easy for students to approach members of the staff.
This method of teaching, requires the student to conduct practical work. Usually a distinction is made between practicals which primarily serve to acquire skills and practicals which serve to illustrate the subject matter. Medical Informatics include a large number of practicals, which serve to acquire programming skills. The design and implementation of programs play major parts during these assignments.
The approach adopted for workshops is the method of Problem-Based Learning. Briefly, this implies that tutor-supervised meetings attended by approx. 10 students will be held. There are workshop sessions each week. Each assignment contains a central problem (theme). During the preliminary review of an assignment, the level of problem-related knowledge shared by the workshop members is established. In addition to the workshops, there will also be practicals.
With computer-assisted instruction, the transfer of the study material to the student is effected with the help of computers.
Duration of the course and examinations
The Master’s programme lasts a total of two years (120 European Credits), leading to a Master's degree (M.Sc.).
Students who are not directly elegible to start with the Master's programme, can follow a conversion programme (called Pre-Master program) that supports students in obtaining the necessary knowledge at home, visiting the AMC-UvA only for testing. This programme is divided into ten topics, a programming test and academic skills evaluation with a maximum of 26 ECTS. Students are exempt from topics for which they have proof (in the form of diplomas, etc.) that they have previously completed courses which covered the topic in sufficient detail and extent. The Examination Board decides on possible exemptions. The program offers the candidates the necessary literature, such as articles and book chapters, online. More information: Application and admission
Are you interested in medicine and health care and are you also fascinated by technique and informatics? If you are, you are cut out for the study of Medical Informatics. It is not absolutely necessary for you to have experience with computers; you will learn how to use different types of computer hardware during the study. You certainly do not need to be a computer freak, because the study involves a lot more than merely working with computers. Students who have some understanding of technical matters will be very able to follow this study. The capacity to think in an exact and methodical way is important. The professional perspective for Medical Information Sciences graduates is very favourable.
Information on the MI study program may be obtained through:
Faculty of Medicine AMC-UvA
School of Medical Informatics
1105 AZ Amsterdam
Phone: +31 (0)20 566 4779 (study advisors)