Saturday, May 15, 2010

ONC-Funded Scholarship Program for OHSU Biomedical Informatics Graduate Program Open for Applications

Applications are now being accepted for scholarship funding from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) to study in the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) biomedical informatics graduate program. This funding comes from the ONC's University-Based Training Program, and is part of their Health IT Workforce Development Program that aims to rapidly expand the workforce through predominantly short-term educational opportunities. In the case of OHSU, this will involve tuition scholarships for 135 students in our Graduate Certificate program and 13 students in our Master of Biomedical Informatics (MBI) program over the next three years. The latter will also receive a stipend and student health insurance while enrolled in the program. Enrollment for both programs will begin in Fall 2009.

Despite this funding, very little else about OHSU's larger informatics programs will change. The ONC scholarships add funding for a large number of students as well as some additional academic requirements centered around six health IT job roles. Each of these job roles has requirements for additional courses that either already exist or will shortly be added to the curriculum. Students not funded by the ONC scholarships will still be able to study in the program as they always have. For more information, click on the "ad" to the right or go directly to

More details about the program are available on the OHSU Department of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology (DMICE) Web site. To qualify for funding, students must be US citizens or permanent residents; must not have been enrolled in an informatics educational program on December 17, 2009 or earlier; must commit to study in one of six ONC-designated job roles; and must commit to completing the Graduate Certificate program in one year or the MBI program full-time and on-campus over 1 1/2 years.

The OHSU Biomedical Informatics Graduate Program offers a variety of certificates and degrees in three tracks: clinical informatics (CI), bioinformatics and computational biology (BCB), and health information management (HIM). The CI and HIM tracks are focused on the healthcare and public health arenas, while the BCB track is focused on translational bioinformatics and personalized medicine. The ONC funding is limited to the CI and HIM tracks.

The certificate and degree programs are implemented on a building-block model, where courses at any level can be carried to programs at higher levels. The most basic program is the Graduate Certificate program, which is offered for the CI and HIM tracks. (The HIM Graduate Certificate is CAHIIM-accredited and allows graduates to sit for the examination for the RHIA credential.) OHSU offers two master's degree programs which differ only in the culminating project being a thesis (Master of Science) or a capstone or internship (MBI). The master's degree programs are offered for the CI and BCB tracks (although HIM Graduate Certificate graduates can easily move into the CI master's programs). OHSU's PhD program is offered for the CI and BCB tracks. All CI and HIM track programs up to and including the master's degree programs are available both on-campus and via distance learning. The BCB track and PhD program are only available on the OHSU campus.

The introductory course in the CI track (BMI 510 - Introduction to Biomedical and Health Informatics) was also adapted to be the original course in the AMIA 10x10 ("ten by ten") program, which aims to education 10,000 professionals in informatics by the year 2010. It has been the most subscribed course in the 10x10 program, and about 15% of graduates have gone on to further study in the OHSU Biomedical Informatics Graduate Program.

Why study biomedical informatics at OHSU? We have a long-standing program that is one of largest in active enrollment as well as alumni. Our 230+ alumni have taken a variety of jobs in healthcare organizations, academia, industry, government, and other settings. We also have a full-time faculty who are not only passionate about teaching but also accomplished researchers and thought leaders in the field. Finally, our program is a real graduate program and not a continuing education program.


  1. I've been really researching which program would be the best fit for me. I'm BSN RN, who has been working in healthcare informatics, EMR implementation, and healthcare IT consultation for the past 5 years. I'm ready to further my career and take the next step towards leadership positions. The one thing that concerns me with some of the informatics masters, is that they assume little knowledge in the industry already (is that a correct assumption?), or at least it seems so from their descriptions. I'm also unsure if I should pursue a masters of nursing or a masters of science or health. I'm interested to hearing your thoughts on this. Because I am a working professional with a family, I can't take the luxury of relocating and attending any school; I will most likely have to pursue a distance learning masters program.
    Thanks for taking the time to respond.
    -S Montgomery

  2. Sebastian,

    We have many people in our program who have already been working in the field. An educational program in informatics gives you a broad vision and knowledge of the field that you might not have if your experience only comes from specific applications in specific settings. There is great value to getting the big picture of the field and also focusing on areas where you may not have had exposure. All of this can also be done via distance learning as well.