DMICE Steps Up to Offer Virtual Teaching for Medical and Graduate Students

One of the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic is its impact on medical and graduate education in academic medical centers. Medical students are sidelined from clinical experiences due to the need to protect their health as well as conserve personal protective equipment (PPE) for physicians, nurses, and others taking care of patients. Graduate students are likewise not able to pursue their laboratory research due to the need to preserve PPE and reagents that might be used in clinical care, and also to avoid social gathering that might spread Covid-19.

Both groups therefore need educational activities to maintain their academic progress, preferably of a virtual nature. Fortunately, the Department of Medical Informatics & Clinical Epidemiology (DMICE) has educational content as well as a long history of its virtual delivery to somewhat fill the gap for medical and graduate students.

One course offering is the long-standing Introduction to Biomedical & Health Informatics, taught as BMI 510/610 by DMICE Chair, Dr. William Hersh. This one-quarter academic course has 10 units of materials that consist of online voice over Powerpoint lectures and online discussion forums. The graduate version of the course is offered over 10 weeks of the academic quarter and includes a term paper and final exam. It is being offered to all OHSU graduate students from any program this term.

The course has also been organized into a 4-week block format for medical students. Students are required only to complete the weekly multiple-choice assessments and not a term paper or final exam. The course has been offered not only to OHSU medical students but also to any medical student from any US allopathic or osteopathic medical school. External students register for the course through their own institutions, who send us lists of students to enroll in the course, as described on the course Web page.

The medical student course has been offered in weekly waves. The first course started with 17 OHSU medical students. The second two offerings include 62 medical students from 11 different medical schools: Dartmouth College (2), Northwestern University (1), University of Iowa (6), University of North Dakota (2), University of Rochester (15), City University of New York School of Medicine (2), Emory University (12), University of Miami (3), Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (9), Quinnipac University (1), and Stony Brook University School of Medicine (9). We anticipate additional waves of students from additional medical schools over the next few weeks.

Other DMICE faculty are also offering other courses for basic science graduate students who increasingly need programming and data science skills to augment their laboratory work (of which they are currently shut out). The first of these is an adaptation of the DMICE graduate pre-requisite course, Introduction to Programming in Python, which is taught by Dr. Lisa Karstens. The course is being offered as a three-credit seminar course and has eight students enrolled.

The second additional course is Ready for R, an adaptation of the R Bootcamp course of Dr. Ted Laderas, which has seven students enrolled. Dr. Laderas is also offering his regular NEUS643 – Statistics for Neuroscientists this term.

Another DMICE course with non-DMICE enrollment this term is BMI 553 – Readings in Bioinformatics. The focus this term is Systems Immunology, and the course is being taught by Dr. James Jacobs. In addition to DMICE students are two non-DMICE students.