New Graduate Level Certificate Program Available for Health Professionals

11/18/02    Portland, Ore.

Oregon Health & Science University courses aim to help health professionals keep up with fast-changing field

Pam Bomar has been a department administrator for radiation oncology at one of the larger Portland-area hospitals for more than a decade. She loves her job, but some days finds herself in work situations where she needs to know more about insurance, social and management issues to better help patients. So Bomar signed herself up last spring for what is the Portland area's first fully accredited, graduate-level health care management certificate program.

The health care management certificate program is offered through Oregon Health & Science University's OGI School of Science & Engineering, which offers a highly respected master's degree program through its Department of Management in Science and Technology. The new health care management certificate program is designed for professionals like Bomar who are working in caregiving, reimbursement or management roles in health care organizations.

"The health care picture both in Oregon and nationally is changing very quickly," said Bomar, who works for OHSU. "I am the point person for insurance and social issues with our patients in radiation oncology. With this added health care management knowledge, I hope to be at the forefront of future changes as they take place both within radiation oncology and the hospital itself."

Fellow student Peter Hazel agrees. "I view the health care management curriculum as being particularly applicable to anyone in a management position at a healthcare organization," said Hazel, the business manager for perioperative services at OHSU, who manages the purchasing and budgetary functions within the department. "Gaining an understanding of health care history, health care finance, and health care information technology issues will be critical to addressing the difficult challenges we are all about to face in the next decade."

The eight-week winter 2003 health care management certificate course will meet Tuesdays from 4 to 9 p.m. beginning Jan. 7, 2003, in Room 122 of OHSU's School of Nursing Marquam Hill campus. The course is titled, "Managing Financial Accounting for Health Care Professionals" and will be taught by finance and statistics professor Jack Raiton, Ph.D., a senior fellow in the OGI School of Science & Engineering, and Aaron Crane, chief financial officer for OHSU Hospitals and Clinics.

Admission to the program requires a bachelor's or nursing degree and at least two years professional work experience in the health care field. Working professionals may take individual health care management courses without applying for admission to the certificate program. For more information about the health care management certificate or to enroll online, visit or contact Victoria Tyler at or 503 748-1335. Students take six courses to earn a health care management certificate. Four core courses must be taken through OHSU; two elective courses may be taken through OHSU or other local universities.

"Other Portland-area health care educational master's-level offerings (Portland State University, University of Portland, Linfield College and OHSU) focus more on medically oriented information and patient care," said Paul Newman, Ph.D., an adjunct faculty member at the OGI School of Science & Engineering who designed the health care management certificate program. "We do not want to replicate or compete with any of these excellent programs. Rather, we're trying to fill an educational niche midway between a full master's in health care administration and individual courses in health care for training or personal enrichment. Our focus is entirely about building managerial skills.

"When I was out talking to senior executives and managers at Providence Health System, Legacy Health System and OHSU Health System, they kept saying, 'I wish I had more people working for me who could put together a business plan'," he says. "We want to help hospitals and clinics deliver health care more effectively and conserve valuable resources by teaching managers to be able to quickly analyze and formulate strategy in a fast-changing environment."

The first health care certificate course, held in spring 2002 prior to the Oregon University System's late-October approval of the certificate program, was "The Organization, Financing, and Delivery of Healthcare in the United States." The course was taught by Tom Flora, D.Ed.

"Many people in health care rise to managerial positions with little or no formal training outside of the particular service area they work in," said Flora. "Few have background in the variety of areas a manager must master. The idea of the certificate program is to provide knowledge and experiences that broaden managerial skills in a format that allows the student to continue in their current work setting."

Invited speakers to the first course included Robert Pallari, president and CEO of Legacy Health System; John Santa, M.D., director of Oregon Office of Health Policy and Research; Christine Cassel, M.D., dean of the OHSU School of Medicine; and Robert Shook, former president of the Northwest Institute of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

"I enjoyed the course very much," said Hazel. "We began by studying the history of health care delivery in the United States from the time physicians and surgeons began to provide services in this country. Then we delved into the development of the first health care finance programs and the subsequent creation of the Medicare system.

"What I found most interesting was the focus on the peripheral aspects of health care and how they may play a larger role in the system in the future," said Hazel, "such as alternative care, the role of the Institute of Medicine and the role of the Leap Frog Group to name a few.

"My goal will be to parlay my 10 years of healthcare management experience with my master's of business administration and certificate of health care management into a position that draws on all the knowledge gained from each of these," says Hazel. "No matter how I decide to grow professionally, I will at the very least walk away from these courses with a certificate and the profound understanding of the health care delivery system that I otherwise would probably never gain from another source."

The OGI School of Science & Engineering (formerly the Oregon Graduate Institute of Science & Technology) became one of four schools of the Oregon Health & Science University in 2001. The OGI School has more than 100 full-time and adjunct faculty and more than 300 master's and doctoral students who are seeking degrees in five academic departments. In addition, there are more than 300 students taking credit courses but are not seeking degrees at this time. Each year, the School's Center for Professional Development enrolls more than 1,000 working professionals who take not-for-credit classes.