Training Multidisciplinary Biomedical Informatics Students: Three Years of Experience
Objective: The European INFOBIOMED Network of Excellence1recognized that a successful education program in biomedical informatics should include not only traditional teaching activities in the basic sciences but also the development of skills for working in multidisciplinary teams. Design: A carefully developed 3-year training program for biomedical informatics students addressed these educational aspects through the following four activities: (1) an internet course database containing an overview of all Medical Informatics and BioInformatics courses, (2) a BioMedical Informatics Summer School, (3) a mobility program based on a 'brokerage service' which published demands and offers, including funding for research exchange projects, and (4) training challenges aimed at the development of multi-disciplinary skills. Measurements: This paper focuses on experiences gained in the development of novel educational activities addressing work in multidisciplinary teams. The training challenges described here were evaluated by asking participants to fill out forms with Likert scale based questions. For the mobility program a needs assessment was carried out. Results: The mobility program supported 20 exchanges which fostered new BMI research, resulted in a number of peer-reviewed publications and demonstrated the feasibility of this multidisciplinary BMI approach within the European Union. Students unanimously indicated that the training challenge experience had contributed to their understanding and appreciation of multidisciplinary teamwork. Conclusion: The training activities undertaken in INFOBIOMED have contributed to a multi-disciplinary BMI approach. It is our hope that this work might provide an impetus for training efforts in Europe, and yield a new generation of biomedical informaticians.