Nursing Informatics Specialist
Nurses Are Needed in the Exploding Industry of Health Informatics
- The US Department of Labor estimates a 49% job growth in health information and informatics
- Healthcare Informatics was named one of the top careers in U.S. News & World Report
- The AMIA estimates 70,000 informatics professionals are needed
What is Nursing Informatics?
The American Nurses Association (ANA) defines nursing informatics as "a specialty that integrates nursing science, computer science, and information science to manage and communicate data, information, knowledge and wisdom in nursing practice. Nursing Informatics supports patients, nurses and other providers in their decision-making in all roles and settings. This support is accomplished through the use of information technology and information structures, which organize data, information and knowledge for processing by computers." >> Read Intro to Nursing Informatics by HIMSS (pdf)
Informatics Nurses and Nursing Informatics Specialists can find career opportunities in many settings, such as hospitals and other healthcare providers, insurance companies, and consulting firms. Nursing informatics specialists serve as high-tech traffic cops for all the information swirling around their facilities. This calls for a well-rounded, well-organized person with a big-picture understanding of how the different departments in a facility interact and a solid grasp of the way things get done.
It is not a job for the easily frustrated.
The primary challenge of nursing informatics is to be a facilitator between technical staff and clinicians. It means being conversant in the languages of both technology and medicine. It also involves educating non-technical staff on the use and merits of computerization. Nursing informatics professionals will not only be responsible for logging data into computers, but will also need to implement changing procedures and policies for new programs and testing scenarios. Nurses also need to be able to process changes and teach new applications to trainees. These professionals ensure that report findings are easy to understand, they provide technical writing support to others and they document technical specifications and solutions that meet published requirements. Although some Informatics Nurses may continue to have some patient interaction, most will have little to none on this career path.
Nursing Informatics Specialist Education
Nursing Education in 2007
While the opportunities are plentiful, nursing informatics is not an entry-level career. RNs who find work in this specialty typically have several years of experience and professional education in both information systems and nursing.
A Master's degree or certificate in Nursing Informatics, Health Informatics or related fields will improve salary and job potential. A Master's degree in Informatics is generally required for advanced nursing informatics positions. Informatics Nurses must have strong verbal and communication skills, analytical skills, as well as clinical knowledge and technical proficiency.
From the 2007 HIMSS/McKesson Survey, over half (52%) of the respondents had some kind of post-graduate degree (see Nursing Education table). Importance of formal training/education specifically in nursing informatics has also grown. In 2007, 34% of respondents had a degree or certificate in informatics, up from 21% in 2004.
Nursing Informatics Certification
To qualify to sit for the nursing informatics certification exam, candidates must meet the following requirements:
For those who want to continue improving their income and advancement potential, the ANCC provides an Informatics Nursing Certification. Currently active and licensed RNs who qualify can sit for the Informatics Nursing Certification Exam. In the 2007 HIMSS/McKesson survey, more respondents (23%) had this certification than any other type. >> Informatics Exam Content Outline (pdf)
- Hold a current, active RN license within a state or territory of the United States or the professional, legally recognized equivalent in another country.
- Hold a bachelor's or higher degree in nursing or a bachelor's degree in a relevant field.
- Have practiced the equivalent of 2 years full-time as a registered nurse.
- Have completed 30 hours of continuing education in informatics within the last 3 years.
- Meet one of the following practice hour requirements:
Have practiced a minimum of 2,000 hours in informatics nursing within the last 3 years.
Have practiced a minimum of 1,000 hours in informatics nursing in the last 3 years and completed a minimum of 12 semester hours of academic credit in informatics courses that are part of a graduate-level informatics nursing program*.
Have completed a graduate program in nursing informatics* containing a minimum of 200 hours of faculty-supervised practicum in informatics.
* Please note that graduate level education must be from a nursing informatics program, NOT health informatics. Since the Nursing Informatics Certification is NOT an advanced practice certification, the graduate-level program does not need to be a CCNE accredited program.
Nurses can enjoy informatics careers as managers/executives, administrators, educators, and consultants. Nursing informatics career opportunities are available in hospitals and other healthcare providers, public health organizations, research labs, medical software companies, insurance agencies, pharmaceutical companies, and educational institutions.
Nursing Informatics Salary Potential
Nursing informatics provides excellent salary potential. The nursing profession has had a specialization in nursing informatics for over a decade and is the largest health informatics specialization. The O*NET On-Line system reported 568,000 specialists were employed in 2014 and projected 191,600 job openings between 2014-2024. O"NET reported nursing informatics professionals earned a median salary of $85,800 in 2015.
Promising Future for Nursing Informatics
Nursing informatics is an excellent career choice for nurses who want to apply technology and information
science to their clinical base. The future of this industry is very promising. Respondents of the 2007 HIMSS/McKesson survey gave varied positive responses
for their vision of the future of nursing informatics.
- Nursing informatics will be integral in an organization's decision making process in purchasing and implementing clinically related technology
- Nursing informatics will continue to expand and flourish as healthcare technology grows, eventually affecting other departments such as IT and assuming more administrative roles
- Nursing informatics will improve the quality and safety of patient care while lowering cost
- Nursing informatics and EMR will positively influence each other