MS in Applied Clinical Informatics

The Department of Biomedical Informatics (DBMI) at Vanderbilt University invites outstanding applicants to apply for a two-year M.S. in Applied Clinical Informatics (MSACI) degree program. Our objective is to provide innovative clinical informatics education for working professionals in the health care field with graduates assuming leadership roles in the application and innovation of clinical informatics nationally.

The Discipline of Clinical Informatics

At many institutions, the role of clinical informatics (CI) leaders (known as clinical informaticians) has evolved from introducing electronic health records (EHRs) and practice transformation techniques to the effective evaluation and improvement of patient outcomes. Increasingly, local improvements must be integrated into accountable care organizations, clinically integrated networks, and other inter-organization collaborations that emphasize both quality improvement and cost reduction. These factors create a profound need for trained informatics professionals from a variety of clinical and nonclinical disciplines who share a deep theoretical and practical understanding of the care process, informatics concepts, and the changing social, organizational, and economic context in which health care is delivered. Vanderbilt DBMI’s new M.S. in Applied Clinical Informatics is designed to develop leaders who are prepared to advance the science and practice of clinical informatics.

Vanderbilt DBMI’s MSACI program degree program is an educational pathway for health professionals to develop a deep understanding and skills in the practice of clinical Informatics.The degree will satisfy educational certification requirements for physicians seeking subspecialty board recognition in Clinical Informatics (CI).Beginning in 2018, physicians will only qualify for the CI board exam after completing a fellowship program in clinical informatics that is certified by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). The Vanderbilt Clinical Informatics Fellowship program is currently undergoing review and is expected to fulfill this requirement with its first class expected to launch 2016. Learn more about CI board certification process at the American Board of Preventative Medicine (ABPM) website.

The MSACI program is also designed for clinicians who desire rigorous, practical informatics training outside of the CI fellowship (e.g., board-certified and non-boarded physicians, nurses, pharmacists) and experienced professionals from other health disciplines (e.g., information technology, public health, healthcare policy, business management, research informatics) who contribute and collaborate to promote safe, efficient, and effective health care.

Educational Experience at Vanderbilt DBMI

The MSACI's goal is to develop clinical informaticians who will be capable of developing and leading innovative applications of information technology and information systems that address clinical, research, and public health priorities. The program will provide a 36-credit hour curriculum in 21 months, with a coursework intensive first year followed by a second year devoted to a capstone project. The curriculum emphasizes a deep theoretical and practical understanding of the care process, informatics concepts, information technologies, computer science, and the changing social, organizational, and economic context in which health care is delivered. This understanding will be developed through coursework, over 240 hours of practicum experience that utilizes real HIT data and systems and healthcare contexts, and a mentored capstone project. The degree program will provide physicians with didactic and experiential training in alignment with ACGME guidelines for CI fellowships. The first class of students are expected to enroll in Fall 2016, and will be in a primarily digital format to accomodate distance learning for the working professional. In person time at Vanderbilt will occur is a block within each semester.


Expert faculty who comprise the largest biomedical informatics department in the U.S. will lead nine MSACI courses, which include the core content of the ABMS subspecialty certification:

Introduction to Clinical Informatics

Foundations of Health Information Technology

The Health System

Clinical Decision Support and Evidence- Based Patient Care

Clinical Information Systems and Applications

Workflow, User-Centered Design, and Implementation

Data to Knowledge (Clinical Data Standards)

Clinical Information System Lifecycle

Management and Organizational Change

Practicum Experience

A practicum experience will have the following characteristics: require a minimum of 240 hours effort to be completed during year 2 and can be satisfied in highly flexible ways, e.g., at VUMC, at home institution or other site (with MSACI program approval).  The trainee must be embedded (i.e., assigned to participate as a member) in an interdisciplinary team that is addressing a significant clinical informatics challenge. This includes attending regular team meetings and participating in analysis of issues, planning, and implementation of recommendations from the team. The interdisciplinary teams must include physicians, nurses, other health care professionals, administrators, and information technology/system personnel, as appropriate.

Capstone Project

A required capstone project running throughout the fellowship will provide students with knowledge and skills required to design and conduct applied research studies to evaluate the efficacy of informatics applications in the clinical environment. Based on personal career objectives and informatics challenges that they identify in practica, the capstone project will have the flexibility to be completed as a cohort, a sub-cohort group, or individually, depending on its design and the needs of our learners. The project will begin in the first year and continue in the second year. Each student will have a project mentor from among the DBMI faculty, as well as a practice mentor within his/her home department/organization

Questions or Comments

If you have any questions or comments, please email Claudia McCarn.