Background: In March 2007, with financial support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, AMIA launched an 18 month process to define the core content of the subspecialty of clinical informatics and the training requirements for proposed clinical informatics fellowships. Upon approval of these documents by the AMIA Board in November 2008, AMIA contacted several medical specialty boards to assess their interest in, and willingness to sponsor, an application to the American Board of Medical Specialty (ABMS) to create an approved certification process for the clinical informatics subspecialty. In July 2009, the American Board of Preventive Medicine (ABPM) agreed to sponsor the application for a new subspecialty examination, and, in March 2010, ABPM submitted a formal application to ABMS to create the subspecialty certification. After an extensive review by the ABMS specialty boards and the ABMS Committee on Certification (COCERT), the proposal was approved by the ABMS Board in a vote on September 21, 2011.
Question: Where can I learn more information about the requirements for physicians becoming certified in the clinical informatics medical subspecialty?
Answer: The American Board of Preventive Medicine (ABPM), a Member Board of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), was the first sponsor of the application for subspecialty certification in Clinical Informatics and should be contacted for all questions about the examination. Visit: www.theabpm.org
Pathologists should contact the American Board of Pathology at www.abpath.org about the Clinical Informatics examination.
Question: Where can I find more information about developing a fellowship program for the purpose of training physicians for the subspecialty of clinical informatics?
Answer: In February, 2014, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) released its Program Requirements for Graduate Medical Education in Clinical Informatics. Although a resident from any specialty may apply for these fellowships, the clinical informatics fellowship must be overseen by an ACGME-accredited residency program from one of the following specialties: Anesthesiology, Diagnostic Radiology, Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Medical Genetics, Pathology, Pediatrics, or Preventive Medicine). The full description of the ACGME Program Requirements for graduate medical education in clinical informatics can be found by searching the ACGME site at www.acgme.org. The ACGME’s Residency Review Committee for Pediatrics accredited the first clinical informatics fellowship, the Stanford Medicine Clinical Informatics Fellowship. It is offered through The Division of Systems Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine.
The AMIA Academic Forum has established a Community of Clinical Informatics Program Directors (CCIPD) for regular communications between academic leaders who are submitting applications to the ACGME for accreditation of their own institutions’ clinical informatics fellowships. To connect with these program directors, consider having your institution become a member program: www.amia.org/programs/academic-forum
Question: How do I prepare for the clinical informatics subspecialty when the ABPM begins taking applications to sit for the examination?
Answer: AMIA developed a Clinical Informatics Board Review Course that is offered both live and online for those who are interested in sitting for the CI board exam offered by the American Board of Preventive Medicine, www.theabpm.org website should be consulted for current information on the board exam.
The AMIA course director is William (Bill) Hersh, MD, FACP, FACMI, who works with AMIA staff and course faculty to develop content for the course. In addition to the live and online courses a simulated board exam is offered. The AMIA Simulated Board Exam will include sample questions in clinical informatics content areas likely to be covered on the examination. For live and online course information, see: www.amia.org/clinical-informatics-board-review-course/registration
Question: What options exist for certification of professionals who are not eligible for the clinical informatics medical subspecialty (non-physicians, or physicians who do not practice, have not been certified by one of the member boards of the ABMS, or have not maintained their certification)?
Answer: AMIA is working to create an Advanced Health Informatics Certification (AHIC). Visit the AHIC web page for the most up to date information. Additionally, AMIA provides regular updates about informatics certification efforts during sessions at its annual conferences.
Question: I have specialty boards from ABMS in a field other than preventive medicine. Am I still eligible to take the CI subspecialty examination and from whom will I receive the certification?
Answer: All ABMS member boards have agreed to allow their diplomates to take the clinical informatics subspecialty examination if they are otherwise eligible. Most people will apply to the ABPM and receive their certification from that Board. Pathologists apply through their own board. All candidates will take the same examination.
Question: What will be the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) requirements for individuals who are successfully certified in the CI subspecialty?
Answer: The ABPM manages MOC requirements for the subspecialty. Specific MOC requirements by year of certification are available here: www.theabpm.org/maintain-certification/moc-requirements-by-certification-end-date/
AMIA is actively engaged in providing MOC-II credits to board-certified clinical informaticians through live and online activities. Diplomates board-certified through the ABPM must complete one MOC-IV activity through AMIA during each 10-year recertification cycle.
Question: If I am already working as a clinical informatician and want to take the board examination in order to be formally certified, do I need to take a formal fellowship?
Answer: Until the end of 2022, an eligible candidate may sit for the board exam in clinical informatics through the Practice Pathway. Beginning in 2023, the board exam will be available only for those physicians who have completed a 24-month ACGME-accredited fellowship in clinical informatics. Eligibility requirements are available here: http://theabpm.org/become-certified/subspecialties/clinical-informatics
Question: If I am already working as a clinical informatician (and am potentially eligible for the subspecialty examination based on my current work) but I never had formal training in informatics, are there more extensive options available for me to pursue for a broad exposure to the topic, even before I take an AMIA board review course?
Answer: Most people in this situation will not be interested in returning to graduate school for a full time degree program, so they typically pursue a series of courses, often online, which may lead to a formal certificate. AMIA's 10X10 courses are one useful option, as are the various community college and university-based training programs that were created under the auspices of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). Self-study with online courses and key textbooks are additional options. AMIA has also worked with the American College of Physician Executives to produce an excellent overview of HIT and informatics through a series of online video lectures and supporting materials. See the ACPE web site for details and also AMIA's listing of programs and courses at www.amia.org/education/programs-and-courses.
Question: What is the relationship between AMIA, ABPM, and ACGME?
Answer: The CI subspecialty certification process is the sole responsibility of the ABPM and cosponsoring boards. AMIA has offered assistance and expertise but has no direct responsibility for the exam or for defining the certification criteria. AMIA will generally refer all questions regarding the exam and eligibility to the ABPM. Similarly, the ACGME is a separate corporate entity from ABPM and its sole responsibility is the accreditation of training programs. The evaluation of training programs will be guided by the competencies evaluated in the ABPM’s CI board examination, but there is no formal link. Generally, however, the ABMS expects that by 2023 applicants for subspecialty certification will have completed a fellowship program that has been evaluated and certified by the ACGME.