Thursday, July 4, 2013

OHSU Informatics Graduation 2013: UBT Winding Down, Other Growth Steady, and Future Opportunities Abound

One of my favorite activities each year at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) is graduation. It is always a joy to march in the faculty procession and see our graduates who attend receive their degrees and certificates. Since we first started having graduates in 1998, I have only missed one commencement ceremony. Below is a picture of the happy group that attended this year's ceremony.
With this year's graduates, our biomedical informatics graduate program has now awarded 537 degrees and certificates to 509 people. We have 181 people who are still enrolled in our various programs. A total of 1558 people have been enrolled in our program at one time or another dating back to its launch in 1996. The figure below shows the distribution in the program tracks - bioinformatics and computational biology (BCB), clinical informatics (CI), and health information management (HIM) - for each degree or certificate.
This graduation also marks the end of studies for almost all students funded by the University-Based Training (UBT) program, the initiative of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) to vastly expand the health IT workforce. Funded under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, this program began in April, 2010 and in essence served as a scholarship program to pay tuition for students selected for funding.

The figure below shows the flowchart for applicants through graduates of the OHSU UBT program. While we will fall slightly short of our goal to graduate 148 students (135 Graduate Certificate and 13 Master's), we have launched many new informatics careers. While we accepted more people than our goal (176), the attrition rate turned out to be higher than we anticipated (24.4%, although about one-third continued as non-UBT-funded students). In addition, a number of those to which we were not able to award funding still enrolled in the program (65). In the meantime, a substantial number of people who were not candidates for UBT funding or otherwise did not apply still enrolled and/or graduated during the time period of the UBT grant (272 enrolled, 136 graduated).
The UBT funding will formally end on September 30, 2013. After that time, we will have three additional months to allow the remaining UBT-funded students to complete the program. Given how much of professional effort has revolved around two ONC initiatives, the UBT program and the Health IT Curriculum Development Project, it is amazing to think of my life devoid of them.

The good news is that there is not only plenty of continued demand for informatics education, but new opportunities are emerging. Interest and enrollment in our program has not abated. As for the opportunities, one will be training programs for the new clinical informatics subspecialty for physicians. In addition, there will likely be additional opportunities when new certifications emerge from the Advanced Interprofessional Informatics Certification Task Force of the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) as well as others from groups such as the Commission on the Accreditation of Health Informatics and Information Management (CAHIIM). There are in addition opportunities for developing informatics education for medical students, enabled by a recent grant awarded to OHSU by the American Medical Association (AMA).

No comments:

Post a Comment