An Introduction to Clinical Informatics for Early Medical Learners Using Colorectal Cancer Screening

Alan Williams, Kasi Chu, Colby Uptegraft, Joshua Duncan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: Clinical informatics is an important component of the AMA-endorsed third pillar of undergraduate medical education, health systems science. Discrete educational opportunities for clinical informatics and health systems science among early learners are lacking in medical school curricula.

METHODS: We developed and evaluated a multistep, 2.5-hour activity during the gastroenterology module to introduce these topics to preclerkship medical students. A didactic session introducing clinical informatics and clinical decision support and reviewing health promotion and screening concepts was followed by small-group activities. Students worked through a series of exercises culminating in the generation of a clinical decision support tool based on the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) colorectal cancer screening recommendations.

RESULTS: Between 2022 and 2023, 326 first-year medical students participated in this workshop. Feedback was predictably mixed. In 2022, 88% of postclass survey respondents confirmed having a better clinical informatics understanding after the workshop. In 2023, students reported a statistically significant increase in their self-reported understanding of the role of clinical informatics, clinical decision support, and USPSTF colorectal cancer recommendations.

DISCUSSION: Clinical decision support is a viable pathway for introduction of clinical informatics, health systems science, and public health/prevention topics. Our educational approach offers an interactive introduction to this group of topics that can benefit future physicians. While colon cancer provides a robust option for the clinical situation, this activity could be modified to fit into many different clinical scenarios, allowing for interdisciplinary education during either undergraduate or graduate medical education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11379
JournalMedEdPORTAL : the journal of teaching and learning resources
StatePublished - 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • Humans
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Students
  • Curriculum
  • Medical Informatics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms/diagnosis


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