Extension of Clinical Informatics Subspecialty Grandfathering Period Provides New Options for Physician Certification

In November, the American Board of Preventive Medicine (ABPM) announced that the “grandfathering period” for physicians to become board-certified in the new subspecialty of clinical informatics would be extended for five additional years, from 2017 to 2022 (see also). This means that physicians can become board-certified in the subspecialty through either the practice pathway or via “non-traditional” fellowships that include both the OHSU National Library of Medicine (NLM) fellowship as well as our master’s degree program, the latter of which is available online.

OHSU has developed an ACGME-accredited clinical informatics fellowship and we believe this is the gold standard for training in clinical informatics. However, we also recognize that a two-year on-site fellowship is not possible for all who desire to achieve certification in the subspecialty, especially those who are mid-career and not easily able to relocate for a full-time fellowship.

The requirements for board eligibility include board certification in a primary specialty and qualification via the practice pathway or a non-traditional fellowship. The practice pathway requires one to have “practiced” clinical informatics for 25% or more time over three of the last five years. Education time counts as half of the time of practice time, i.e., 50% or more time over three years, which is comparable to the duration of a one-and-a-half-year full-time master’s degree.

All practice pathway time is additive, so a combination of practice and/or educational activities can reach the threshold. In addition, a recent master’s degree from an established program (the actual list is not known but includes long-standing programs, including ours at OHSU) has been enough to achieve board eligibility. Those eligible for the exam can then apply to ABPM to take the exam, which is offered annually each October.

About 40 graduates of the OHSU Biomedical Informatics Graduate Program have achieved eligibility in the subspecialty since its inception, and we look forward to working with those physicians who aim to achieve eligibility via our online education or clinical fellowship programs.