Friday, September 24, 2010

Welcoming Unprecedented Numbers to the OHSU Informatics Educational Program

The beginning of the academic year is always an exciting time, and this year is exceptionally exciting, due to the unprecedented enrollment in our program. While numbers do not tell the entire story, they clearly show a field in ascension. While much of the growth is fueled by our University-Based Training (UBT) Grant from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), there is growth in all areas of our program.

This week we welcomed an total of 95 new students to the OHSU biomedical informatics graduate program. This matriculating class includes 4 PhD, 25 Master's, and 66 Graduate Certificate students. Of the 25 Master's students, 19 are in the clinical informatics track and 6 are in the bioinformatics and computational biology track. Of the 19 in the clinical informatics track, 10 are on-campus and 9 are distance-learning students. Of the 10 on-campus master's students, 8 are funded by our new ONC UBT grant. All of the Graduate Certificate students are distance-learning students, with 36 funded by the UBT grant.

These new students bring our total student body to approximately 350 students who are actively enrolled in the program. This includes 15 PhD, 83 Master's, and approximately 250 Graduate Certificate students. The 8 Master's and 36 Graduate Certificate students starting the UBT program join 12 other Graduate Certificate students who started in the summer quarter. This brings our total UBT enrollment to 56 students. Applications are now being accepted for those who wish to apply for Graduate Certificate UBT funding starting in the winter quarter. We are well on our way to educating 148 students over three years in the UBT grant.

All of these students will aspire to join our alumni, which consists of 272 people who have received 281 degrees, certificates, and fellowships (as of June, 2010). Our program has awarded 5 PhD, 63 Master of Science, and 74 Master of Biomedical Informatics degrees. We have also awarded 120 Graduate Certificates. Many of these alumni work in a variety of health care, industry, academic, and other settings.

I suppose I am biased, but I am incredibly optimistic for the future of biomedical informatics education. This field is truly establishing an identity as leading the charge to improve health, healthcare, biomedical research, and public health through better use of information. This involves not only electronic health records, but also other information systems in areas such as genomics, telemedicine, knowledge management, and clinical and translational research. Because of this, I am confident that our current students will find many rewarding career opportunities in all of these areas. I am also certain that informatics education will continue to be appealing long after the ONC funding ends, as students will be attracted to careers in this growing field in the long run.


For those who better visualize numbers in a more tabular form, here is a summary (sorry Blogspot does not allow multiple levels of indenting):

Matriculating class, Fall, 2010 - 95
-PhD -4
-Master's - 25
--6 Bioinformatics Track
--19 Clinical Informatics Track
---10 on-campus (8 UBT)
---9 distance learning
-Graduate Certificate - 66
--(36 UBT)

Total enrollment - about 350
-PhD - 15
-Master's - 83
--60 distance learning
--23 on-campus
-Graduate Certificate - about 250

Alumni (as of June, 2010)
-People - 272
-Fellowships only - 19
-Degrees - 262
--PhD - 5 (2-3 more just about done)
--Master's - 137
---Master of Science - 63
---Master of Biomedical Informatics - 74
--Graduate Certificate - 120

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