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Write Code. Save Lives.

"The great thing about working on OpenMRS is having what you do be used in the 'real world' to solve problems in health care. It's a really rewarding experience." - Ada Yeung

"Being a part of the OpenMRS community gives me an awesome opportunity to work with people all over the world. Though we may come from different backgrounds or work for different groups, we're all colleagues and friends through our work in building and using OpenMRS." - Lauren Stanisic

OpenMRS is participating for the first time as a mentoring organization in the Outreach Program for Women (OPW) during Summer 2013. We've participated for 7 years in various mentorship programs for rising contributors to free and open source software, and we're extremely excited our projects and mentorship opportunities this year to encourage more women to participate in free software projects. Coding for OpenMRS is a great way to practice your coding skills and, at the same time, help benefit people in developing countries who are on the front lines of the battle against HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria, and other public health challenges.

The Outreach Program for Women is organized globally by GNOME. You should read the official program page at for complete details.

Program Timeline

The official OPW timeline follows the timeline for our participation in Google Summer of Code. In summary:

  • March 27: Application period opens. Applicants need to get in touch with at least one project and make a contribution to it.
  • May 1: Participant application deadline, 7:00 PM UTC.
  • May 27: Accepted participants announced on OPW web site.
  • Through June 16: Community bonding period.
    • Get to know your fellow interns and mentors.
    • Do the things listed above in "Next Steps" below.
  • June 17: Work begins!
    • You should have a project plan in place by this date.
    • Important: Share/publish/upload/commit your work early and often!
  • June 20: $500 will be sent to participants who have begun their internships by this date.
  • July 30: $2250 will be sent to participants in good standing with their mentors by this date.
  • September 16: Plan to finish your project by this date, then use the final week to review your project with your mentor(s) for any last minute tweaks.
  • September 23: "Pencils down." No more "official" work after this date.
  • September 27: $2250 will be sent to participants who have successfully completed their internships by this date.

2013 Interns and Projects

Our mentors are volunteers from the OpenMRS community who are committed to helping new contributors use their talents to make meaningful and lasting contributions to our project. Most importantly, they're here to share their love of participating in free and open source software projects and to show you the ropes! Check out the projects for the next few months through both OPW and Google Summer of Code:

Next Steps for Accepted Interns

After accepted interns are announced, here's what should happen:

  1. If you can, attend the next scheduled Developers Forum on 30 May to briefly introduce yourself and meet other interns. Talk to your mentor about other ways to stay involved with the community.
  2. Contact your mentor immediately. Make a plan to communicate with them regularly - at minimum, once each week. Determine the best way to communicate (e-mail, IRC, IM, VoIP, telephone, etc.).
  3. Double-check your subscription to our mailing lists to keep track of what's going on in our development community and spend lots of time in our IRC channel with other community members & interns.
  4. Set up a blog for your work on open source projects, including OPW. Send the URL to Michael Downey. If you don't have a blog yet, you can create one for free at or Blogger.comYou will be required to write a blog post every week about your planning work and project progress during OPW.
  5. Browse the current OpenMRS materials (web pages, code, discussions, etc.) that are specific to your project.
  6. Review the requirements for your project together with your mentor.
  7. Agree on final requirements with your mentor, and post a formal written proposal including project schedule (timeline) on which you both agree.
  8. Discuss with your mentors about other ways to stay involved during the community bonding period.

Thinking about applying?

We're happy you're interested in joining the OpenMRS community for Outreach Program for Women in Summer 2013. Here are some tips that we've prepared to help your application process be easier and more successful. These are all things you should begin today to start getting involved.

TL;DR (;_didn't_read): Become an active contributor in our community right away. The sooner you do this, the more familiar we'll be with your name and your work.


  1. Create an OpenMRS ID and a personal space on your wiki and tell us about yourself. Here's a great personal wiki page from a MediaWiki student you might want to use as a guide.
  2. Join our implementers (users) and/or developers mailing list to get to know other people in our community.
  3. Join our IRC channel and introduce yourself – meet some other community members and tell us about yourself and why OpenMRS is interesting to you. Spend lots of time in IRC getting to know us.
  4. To start, install OpenMRS (just like a user would) and learn a bit about how it works. If you have problems, write the developers mailing list and we'll help you work through them.
  5. Set up your development environment and fix some simple bugs listed on our Introductory Tickets list. Read Getting Started as a Developer for details on how to do this. You will need to have committed OpenMRS code to submit a successful application.
  6. Try to join either our Developers Forum every Thursday to learn about the latest activities & work happening in our community, or join an OpenMRS University call every Wednesday to learn more about OpenMRS and how it's used. You can participate by telephone, Skype, and online via Adobe Connect.
  7. Interact with our community. Continue to ask smart questions (what?) on our mailing lists or hang out on IRC to ask and answer questions.

OPW application process and checklist

The OPW organizing team has a specific process for applying, and you should go to to read it carefully.

  • Join us in IRC before you apply. We're looking for applicants who have interacted with the community, asked some insightful questions, and made even small contributions. Don't be afraid to ask questions. We're very friendly and here to help!
  • Identify and complete a "first task" with the advice of your mentor. This demonstrates that you are self-motivated, makes you familiar to our contributors, and gives you a taste participating in a free software project. Keep track of any issue numbers that you've work on, and include them in your application.
  • Use the title of the project idea for which you are applying as the title of your application. If you are submitting an application to work on the "Add whirlygigs to OpenMRS" project, then make the title of your application "Add whirlygigs to OpenMRS".
  • Submit a thoughtful application. Simply regurgitating documentation from the wiki will not impress us. Rather, show that you've thought about the project and provide some ideas on how you would approach the solution. You can ask other people in the community for ideas in advance. The best applications not only refer to one of the listed projects, but also demonstrate you have thought about the project by providing a description of how you think you might approach the project, including a rough timeline of the steps involved. Work with mentors for help and advice.


What we expect of interns:

  • Become familiar with OpenMRS and your project before the start date.
  • Complete a short "progress report" each week to help stay on schedule.
  • "Commit early. Commit often." Whether you are writing code or doing a non-coding project, publish your work in progress often. This is an important value in our community. Read why.
  • Join our OpenMRS Interns mailing list. (We'll invite accepted participants to this list after they are announced).
  • You are now part of our community! We want you to feel like part of the team, so we hope you will:
    • Have technical discussions on IRC or on the appropriate mailing list.
    • Ask questions (the smart way) if you get stuck.
    • Participate in our weekly community meetings Developers Forum via phone or online.
    • Give one or more project presentations during those weekly meetings so we can see the cool stuff you're making.

What interns should expect of OpenMRS during the summer:

  • You will have fun!
  • You will learn how to work within a free and open source software project – one that's helping people save lives around the world.
  • You will have dedicated time (up to 4-5 hours each week, if needed) with an experienced OpenMRS mentor, and will have a backup mentor for questions or problems.
  • If you ask a question the smart way, our community will do its best to help you.
  • The OpenMRS and OPW program leaders will be available if any problems arise between interns and mentors.

What we expect of mentors:

  • Help your intern be successful. Commit to spending a minimum of 4-5 hours each week with your intern answering questions, giving advice, working together, and evaluating his or her progress.
  • Complete a short "progress report" each week to help stay on schedule and catch potential problems early.
  • Ask questions about the program or your intern's progress if you have them.
  • Reach out to the OPW project leaders if you have questions or concerns.
  • Have fun and work hard! Participating in OPW is an exciting new way to get more women involved in free and open source software projects, and you're helping to shape the future.

Helpful Community Resources

  • If possible, join our Developers Forum every Thursday. You can participate by telephone, our online meeting room, or even just on IRC.
  • We use JIRA as a tool for issue tracking and project management.
  • Tips for using e-mail:
    • If you have a highly specific question, contact your mentor.
    • Technical discussions, ideas, and requests for feedback should be sent to the entire community on the appropriate mailing list.
    • The Interns mailing list is for accepted interns to discuss administrative issues. This list should not be used for technical discussions. Accepted interns will be automatically subscribed to this list.
  • IRC discussions in the #OpenMRS channel on Freenode are always fun! Useful for shorter discussions or for large group discussions.
  • VoIP calls or telephone — sometimes a short discussion can get ideas across much more efficiently.
  • Google Docs — an excellent tool for sharing and collaborating in real time on documents or spreadsheets.
  • Use the OpenMRS wiki often:
    • Be sure to make a user profile page.
    • Every project should have a OpenMRS wiki page where you document your project, progress, technical details, show mock ups, etc.
  • Scheduling tools:

Project Presentations

  • During the summer, each participant will be required to give short presentations during our weekly Developers Forum to explain and demonstrate their project during the program. You can use our screen sharing tools to demo your project.
  • More information about the presentations will be posted here as the program start date approaches.


  • If you are interested in participating in the Outreach Program for Women this year and have further questions that aren't answered here, please contact Michael Downey or Robert O'Connor.