Tuesday, June 5, 2012

OHSU Graduation: As Always, a Time to Celebrate

This week was Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) graduation, marking a celebration of accomplishment for students from a wide array of disciplines. It was also a milestone for the OHSU biomedical informatics graduate program, marking our 15th year of the program having graduates. I have always enjoyed attending the graduation ceremony, basking in the success of our graduates as well as the program as a whole. I have missed the ceremony only in those 15 years. Below is a picture of some of the graduates and faculty after the ceremony.

We had our annual department banquet the evening before graduation. This is another event I never miss. We honor all graduates who show up for the event as well as the staff who make success possible for them. This year I flew in from Singapore just six hours before the banquet.

I hope our new alumni will also take advantage of and participate our Alumni Steering Committee, which we have stood up in an attempt to remain engaged with them. I hope we can offer our alumni enduring value long after they complete their studies, from continuing education to networking among their peers. I also hope the alumni will serve as ambassadors to inform others about the rewards of careers in the field and the value of studying at OHSU.

As of this graduation, we have now awarded a total of 455 degrees and certificates to 425 people. (The reason for more people than certificates and degrees is that some have received more than one.) The distribution includes:
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - 11
  • Master of Science (MS) in Biomedical Informatics - 71
  • Master of Science in Biomedical Informatics (MBI) - 107
  • Graduate Certificate in Biomedical Informatics - 266
Some accomplishments of our individual programs are also worth noting. One of our graduates from the MS program and also a National Library of Medicine Postdoc Fellow, Dr. Paula Scariati, won the School of Medicine Best Master's Thesis Award for her thesis entitled, Making choices about breast cancer screening: A decision aid for women between the ages of 38 & 48. Our Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) University-Based Training (UBT) Grant had its first six MBI graduates along with numerous Graduate Certificate Program graduates. Our health information management (HIM) track continues to thrive, with nine graduates now having successfully passed the Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) certification exam, six of whom are graduates of the UBT Graduate Certificate Program.

Who is an OHSU informatics alumnus? There is no single type of person who can be described. These graduates and students come from heterogeneous backgrounds. The enrollment in all of our programs combined is about 30% physicians, 34% other clinicians, and the remainder from a wide array of other backgrounds. About 6% of our students have an MBA, while 4% have an MPH. But we also have a number of other notable fields represented, including law, biosciences, library and information science, and computer science, to name a few.

Of course, our primary goal is not just to achieve numbers. Rather, we aspire (and believe we have succeeded) in providing an education to a wide diversity of people who will be successful in careers applying information and associated technologies to improve peoples' health. To that end, I am personally gratified that our program has touched so many lives and enabled individuals to launch successful careers in biomedical and health informatics.

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