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OHSU awarded $5.8 million to expand health information technology education

PORTLAND, Ore. - Oregon Health & Science University has been awarded $5.8 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds to advance the widespread adoption and meaningful use of health information technology (HIT) by educating professionals to work in this rapidly growing field.

The funding is provided in two competitively awarded grants. One will directly support the education of about 150 additional students over three years in OHSU's biomedical informatics graduate program while establishing additional capacity that will meet the ongoing needs of an expanded work force. The other award will establish a national dissemination resource for health IT curricula at OHSU.

The stimulus funds, awarded by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, will enable OHSU to help educate the estimated 50,000 professionals needed to convert the entire country to electronic health records by the year 2014. The recovery act authorizes an estimated $40 billion to achieve this goal.

"We are delighted to be able to contribute to the national initiative to educate the health IT professional work force that will be required to lead the widespread adoption of electronic health records," says William Hersh, M.D., professor and chairman of OHSU's Department of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology. "This work force is a key requirement for achieving 'meaningful use' of health information technology that will help to improve the quality and safety of health care while lowering its costs."

Through this recovery act funding, OHSU will provide financial aid for nearly 140 new students to enroll in and complete the university's online Graduate Certificate Program in Biomedical Informatics. The funding also will allow at least 12 students to enroll in and complete OHSU's on-campus master's degree program. All financial aid under this grant is for students in graduate-level programs requiring a minimum of a bachelor's degree for admission.

Students receiving financial aid will be required to choose among six career paths:

  • Clinician/public health leader
  • Health information management and exchange specialist
  • Health information privacy and security specialist
  • Research and development scientist
  • Programmers and software engineer
  • Health IT sub-specialist

The eight-course graduate certificate program is entirely online and and can be completed in two to three academic quarters. Students who are funded through this program will receive support for their tuition expenses and must complete its requirements within one year.

The master's degree program requires about 1 years of full-time study. The funding will not only provide these students with tuition support, but includes a stipend and student health insurance.

"Biomedical informatics is a growing field with opportunities for people with a variety of backgrounds, especially in health care, computer science and information technology," added Hersh. "Although this funding is focused on training professionals to implement electronic health records, there are numerous other career opportunities in such areas as personal health records, telemedicine, clinical and translational research, and bioinformatics."

The National Training and Dissemination Center will support a total of five Curriculum Development Centers, one of which will be housed at OHSU. Together, the five centers will develop curricula for the five community college consortia being established to train community college students in HIT. These curricula will also be made available to institutions of higher education throughout the nation. The National Training and Dissemination Center will house the curricula on a dedicated Web site, train community college faculty in its use, and collect and disseminate feedback on its content.

The Curriculum Development Center at OHSU is a partnership between OHSU and four local community colleges Portland Community College, Mt. Hood Community College, Lane Community College and Umpqua Community College.OHSU and community college faculty will collaborate to tailor the curricula for community college students.

OHSU is an established national leader in health information technology education. Its existing educational programs are among the largest in the country, and it has led many innovations, such as the 10x10 ("ten by ten") program in partnership with the American Medical Informatics Association, which aims to train 10,000 health care professionals in biomedical informatics by the year 2010.

Students will be able to enroll in the new programs in this fall.. More information about student financial aid opportunities will be available on the OHSU Department of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology Web site in early May. In the meantime, for descriptions of the Graduate Certificate and Master's degree programs or to sign up to receive further information when it becomes available visit:


Contact: Jim Newman
Oregon Health & Science University

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