Pursuing Oracle Medical Informatics
Oracle Database Tips by Donald Burleson
I was told that being a OCP, a M.D. and
Medical Informaticist is quite a good career move. Which is why I was
interested in Oracle and its applications. Is this so? I have
completed my M.D. and will be doing my fellowship in Medical Informatics at
a major University in the fall. As I am sure you know, medical
informatics deals a lot with databases and such. I was doing a search on
medical informatics and databases and came across many Oracle sites with
links to other related sites regarding books, forums, etc and your site was
one among them....It was here that I read that many Oracle applications are
involved with medicine/research. [Oracle Discoverer, OLAP, Oracle Data
Mining]. My questions are:
1. Is it a good idea to get Oracle
certified as a DBA [OCP in 10G] ?..i.e. is there any advantage
especially with someone with my background?
2. If so, what books are recommended for
someone like me, who is new to Oracle and its applications pertaining to
3. What is the best way to prepare for the
OCP exams in DBA?
I will really appreciate your advice on the
Over the years I've know several high tech Physicians who
have learned programming and Oracle, and they all tell me that they entered the
field of Medical Informatics because it is more fun, and because it has less
stress and tedium than practicing general medicine.
For an good overview of medical informatics, read the
Lives with Oracle", by Dr. Carolyn Hamm.
Most physicians enter medical informatics after completing
their residency, and I hear that it's easy in most hospitals because they always
have a need for Medical Informatics MD's to certify their in-house medical
The successful Medical Informaticists that I have worked
with have these types of technical qualifications and certifications:
I've been told that some Medical Informatics programs at
universities may not provide enough knowledge for advanced data mining and
analytics, especially in chi-square and multivariate analysis. I recommend
lots and lots of advanced statistics; dust-off your freshman Calculus and
Statistics books, and be ready to supplement your Informatics program with
add-on skills. I suggest:
Advanced multivariate statistics - Make sure
that you get enough calculus and statistics to complete a standard
university course in multivariate statistics (a 300-level undergraduate
course with several calculus and statistics prerequisites).
Programming & development skill - You should
have at least one "competency" level programming skills in a procedural
language with enough experience to create an online interface that interacts
with Oracle data. I would recommend learning Oracle Apex (formerly
HTML-DB), or maybe PHP for Oracle.
Statistical analysis tools - You will need
experience with data analytics tools, most commonly SAS, SPSS, and
experience with advanced tools such as Clementine is a plus.
OLAP tools - In some medical research
environments, you have be called upon to render cross-tab displays.
Learning tools such as Cognos, Hyperion and Oracle Business Intelligence
Suite may be required in some cases.
Data Mining - You need to be familiar with the
algorithms and techniques for data mining, including Bayesian. See Dr.
Hamm's great book "Oracle
Data Mining", a must-read for any aspiring Medical Informaticist.
Also, you can engage working
Informaticists (by the hour) to advise you in your Oracle medical career.
Let's get to your more detailed questions.
Question: >> Is
it a good idea [for an M.D.] to get Oracle certified as a DBA?
Yes. In a field like Medical Informatics where
certifications and licensing is important, an OCP is indispensable and an OCM is
Get an OCP - Becoming an Oracle Certified
professional (OCP) lends credence to your skill in managing large volumes of
medical data, especially with all of the concerns today about privacy.
In Medical informatics, the letters M.D., OCP look very good to an employer.
Get an OCM - For a medical doctor, I would
suggest the Oracle Certified Masters (OCM), a challenging two-day Oracle
practicum test, where you prove that you can install, configure, manage and
tune an Oracle database. If you have the time (40-80 hours study time)
and money (about $3k, I think), it's a great companion to medical board
certification. Better still, the OCM is considered more of an
"expert" status certification, and Oracle publishes the names of
OCM holders on
their website. Also see:
is the best way to prepare for the OCP exams in DBA?
Remember, I'm prejudiced, but BC offers outstanding
one-on-one OCM training and mentoring from Steve Karam, an Oracle OCM and Oracle
ACE. Steve is an amazing mentor, and he has a high success rate in fast
knowledge transfer. You can get-together with fellow students in your
Informatics classes and engage his
preparation class, a private group training experience with the hand-on
experience that you will need in order to get your OCM.
Question: >> If
so, what books are recommended for someone like me, who is new to Oracle and its
applications pertaining to medicine?
Of course, get the book "Oracle
Data Mining", and take a look at the
Oracle Business Intelligence resources.
For Oracle books, I work as Series Editor for Rampant
TechPress and I like the "Easy
Oracle" book series that is perfect for beginners and professionals in
non-technical professional careers.
Question: Certain medical schools are now offering a
combined M.D/ MMI program [Masters in Medical Informatics]..if one was to
graduate from a program and apply directly to Oracle, what are his/her chances?
I cannot speak to salaries directly, but I've seen that MD
Informatics doctors have a private parking space, a private office and a
personal secretary. If I had to guess, it's a premium over regular
physicians, likely in the $150k-$300k range, depending on responsibilities.
Question: You mentioned knowledge of statistical
analysis tools like: SPS, SPSS & CLEMENTINE, where can I get "trained" for this?
and also OLAP tools?
Again, knowledge of statspacks helps because some Informaticists analyze large
datasets, but it depends on the type of Informatics you enter. Don't worry, I'll
be really surprised if you are not exposed to SPSS or SAS in your MD/MMI
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