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HSR&D Center for Health Information and Communication (CHIC)

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Fellowship Medical Informatics

Medical informatics is the field that concerns itself with the cognitive, information processing, and communications tasks of medical practice, education, and research, including the information science and technology to support these tasks. An intrinsically interdisciplinary field, medical informatics has a highly applied focus, but also addresses a number of fundamental research problems as well as planning and policy issues.” (Greenes & Shortliffe. JAMA 263 (1990): 1114).

The VA Informatics Special Fellowship is a core training program of the VA HSR&D Center for Health Information and Communication at the Indianapolis VAMC, a close partner of the Regenstrief Institute, Inc. ( and Indiana University School of Medicine.

The goal of the Indianapolis VA Medical Informatics fellowship training program is to prepare graduates for careers in medical informatics, with particular research skills in the areas of redesigning and transforming healthcare delivery. VA’s Special Fellowship in Medical Informatics provide opportunities using VA’s internationally recognized medical informatics infrastructure and our research faculty and campus partners to provide outstanding training opportunities and to contribute to the improvement of clinical practice, scholarly pursuit of medical informatics, and Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) recruitment and retention of Medical Informaticians.

The Indianapolis VA Medical Informatics fellowship will train physicians who have completed their residencies as well as other post-doctoral scientists and health care professionals from a variety of disciplines, including behavioral, social, engineering, informatics or other scientists to (1) understand basic research methods; (2) understand medical informatics in great detail; (3) extract, analyze, and interpret information, both clinical and patient-centered, from electronic medical records and directly from patients; (4) develop, carry out, analyze, and report the results from a prospective research project; and (5) develop productive careers in academic medicine and/or serving the VA.

Each fellow will select a primary mentor, who along with the fellow, will create a Mentor Panel of content and methodologic experts from our Center, the Regenstrief Institute, Inc., IU School of Informatics or Indiana University School of Medicine, that will meet at least quarterly to assess the fellow's progress in attaining his or her research goals.

Program Overview: The fellowship provides two years of research and educational learning opportunities. Fellows spend their time in research and educational activities relevant to the VA. > Mentors of national stature provide guidance to fellows in rich learning environments.

Curriculum: The two-year curriculum includes an orientation to VA, a general research methodology, written and oral communication skills, and medical informatics. There are opportunities to pursue more intensive training in areas such as: clinical information systems, decision support, evidence based medicine, organizational behavior and change management, clinical bioinformatics, computer science, health services research, research methods, and project management through Indiana University and Purdue University. In addition, the curriculum includes such content areas as quality improvement methods, leadership skills, patient safety, and other areas of significant interest to VHA.

Fellows: Physician fellows shall spend at least 75 percent of their time in training related to the practice of applied informatics and no more than 25 percent in clinical care. Associated Health fellows may spend up to 25 percent of their time in clinical care, if appropriate to their background. Fellows are expected to develop and implement an informatics project and submit a manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal. As a result of their work, they should accomplish at least one of the following: lead interprofessional teams, present at a national meeting and/or actively participate in and contribute to standards development organization processes (e.g. HL7, ASTM).

Preceptors (mentors): Fellows are to develop individualized learning plans in collaboration with their preceptors (mentors). Mentors should provide assistance with project and research methodology and content, as well as guidance in personal and professional development. For these reasons, several mentors are often needed. These individuals are expected to meet regularly with the fellows to assess their progress, serve as role models, and provide constructive feedback and assistance in meeting the fellows’ goals. Mentors are expected to participate in formative and summative evaluation of fellows and the fellowship program.

Project: All fellows will participate in at least one informatics project to which they make a substantive, independent, and identifiable contribution. The topic of the project should be of direct relevance to VHA's mission, although VA medical facilities do not necessarily have to be the sole sites of the research.

Career Development Award: All fellows should develop a VA and/or NIH Research Career Development Award during their fellowship, working closely with their mentorship panel. See Gill, T.M., McDermott, M.M., Ibrahim, S.A., Petersen, L.A., Doebbeling, B.N. Getting Funded: Career Development Awards for Aspiring Generalist Investigators. J Gen Intern Med 19:472-478, 2004.

Annual Medical Informatics Special Fellowship Program Meeting: Program Directors shall select an appropriate opportunity for as many Program Directors and fellows as possible to meet and discuss fellowship program issues and to provide fellows an opportunity to present and discuss their work. Attendance at the NLM Informatics Fellows meeting is a desirable goal.

Seminars and Lectures: Fellows are encourages to attend weekly research seminars at the VA HSR&D Center of Excellence and the Regenstrief Institute. Faculty scientists present their research at the weekly seminars, which provides an outstanding forum for interdisciplinary learning and dialogue on the latest methods and topics related to medical informatics, health services research, implementation sciences, geriatrics, and other related disciplines. Fellows are expected to present their research findings at our VA Center works-in-progress seminar and/or the Regenstrief Institute seminar at least once each year during the fellowship training program.

All VA post-doctoral informatics fellows will be required to complete the “Health Outcomes, Services and Implementation Research” course during their fellowship and are strongly encouraged to complete the NLM Medical Informatics Curriculum at Regenstrief Institute, Inc.

NLM Medical Informatics Curriculum Provided at Regenstrief Institute. This is a Lecture and Seminar (50 lectures) led by Regenstrief Medical Informatics faculty. This consists of 11 hours of computer science in topics such as Data structures and algorithms, Databases, Operating systems, Networking protocols, Formal Languages, Interpreted, Compiled, Compiler Theory, Programming Languages, and Methods of Software Engineering. There are a series of 39 lectures in Medical Informtics including: Representation of Medical Information, Getting the data into the system (Issues of user interaction), Processing Medical Information, Bioinformatics, Legal, Social, and Ethical Issues, and Economics, Evaluation, Outcomes.

Master of Science in Clinical Research: Post-doctoral fellows with limited research experience or training have the opportunity to complete a Masters of Science in Clinical Research through the Clinical Investigator Training Enhancement (CITE) Program. The CITE program is a K-30 funded grant through the National Institute of Health and prepares health care professionals for a career in clinical research. Following completion of this program, graduates can embark on a career in clinical research with the skills necessary to successfully compete for grant funding, conduct and analyze research findings, and publish their work in scientific journals.

Eligibility and Application: Interested candidates should: 1) be a US citizen; 2) have completed an MD and residency training, other clinical training terminal degree (e.g., nursing, pharmacy, etc) or a PhD in computer science, medical informatics, decision science, economics or related fields, and 3) Demonstrate a special interest in medical informatics.

Interested candidates must submit a cover letter describing their research interests, fellowship goals and career goals, curriculum vitae and three letters of recommendation.  For contact and mailing infromation return to Fellowship Programs.