Jackson, MS — In close collaboration with the Mississippi Department of Health, the Jackson State University School of Public Health recently announced the launch of the Public Health Informatics and Technology Workforce Development Program.
Girmay Berhie, Ph.D., a professor in the CEPH-accredited School of Public Health, received a $10 million cooperative grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology.
Berhie anticipates the program will provide students with hands-on, theoretical and practical training necessary for sustaining industry impact and remaining adept in a rapidly transforming digital environment.
“JSU is trailblazing a pathway of hope and becoming a catalyst for digital transformation,” said Berhie. “With this program, we equip students with the fundamental skills, industry knowledge, and values ranging from our Informatics graduate certificate program to undergraduate degrees with a concentration in bioinformatics, data science, nursing informatics (Alcorn), business analytics public health informatics and technology & health informatics (undergraduate) in an effort to address educational gaps.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs in healthcare informatics will grow by 22 percent by 2022 – twice as fast as employment overall. However, a recent study by the Yale Global Health Justice Partnership reveals that “many health workforce disciplines report that 30-70 percent lack adequate training and background to fully use and engage with digital technology and information.
JSU alumnus Dr. Justin Turner is the chief medical officer for the Mississippi State Department of Health. During the program kickoff he spoke to the future with enthusiasm as his undergraduate alma mater and professional career presents an opportunity to create sustainable impact in the lives of countless students.
“I am truly one proud alum…” said Turner. “I am excited about the program because not only does it raise up our future leaders, but it also establishes a pipeline – to community college, high schools, provides internship opportunities and seeks other ways for all of us to work better together in order to maintain relationships.”
Loria Brown Gordon, Ph.D., who serves as one of the primary directors overseeing the program, attests to the potential of this project highlighting the curriculum strategy to address areas of informatics and technology with a nuanced understanding of how each subject matter layers differently based on industry demand.
“PHIT Program is an additional opportunity for JSU to be a leader in producing skilled African Americans to fill positions in informatics and technology. Ultimately, we anticipate having a model and increasing our capacity to address informatics from a multidisciplinary perspective,” said Brown Gordon.
“PHIT is a win-win approach to address informatics and technology opportunity gaps in public health, healthcare, and business industries. It aligns with the University’s mission to teach students and professionals to utilize informatics and analytics to make decisions that will assist with addressing societal problems – emphasizing those that are overt in African American communities.”
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