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Nursing Informatics: What Is It and Why Should You Consider This Career Path?

In a world that’s becoming increasingly more digitized, it’s no surprise that one of the fastest-growing professions in the healthcare system is nursing informatics. But what exactly is Nursing Informatics and why is this particular field of nursing worthy of attention? 

In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about Nursing Informatics from the educational path you need to pursue in order to get on this career track, the qualities you need to succeed as well as what the job entails on a daily basis. 

At Nightingale College, we believe that Nursing Informaticians will play a vital role in shaping the future of healthcare. That’s why it’s imperative that we have highly qualified professionals to bridge the gap between nursing and digital technologies and help us stay ahead of the game. 

what is nurse informatics

What Is Nursing Informatics?

Nursing informatics is a specialty that blends together three different disciplines: nursing science, computer science, and information science. Its goal is to manage, communicate, and make accessible large amounts of data and integrate digital knowledge and skills into traditional nursing practice. 

Thus, nursing informatics is a very complex field that requires knowledge from multiple areas of study. Its main purpose is to ensure the maintenance and development of medical data systems that are necessary for the practice of nursing as well as for improving patient outcomes. Fundamentally, nursing informatics is a means to boost the efficiency of healthcare workers and the quality of patient care, as well as cut costs

In order to extensively improve the quality of patient care, Nursing Informatics Specialists integrate their clinical nursing skills with advanced technical skills, a feat that is important now more than ever, as the usage of technology in healthcare practices is becoming increasingly ubiquitous. 

The field of nursing informatics is not new, however, it has been getting more traction particularly during the last decade. Some of the vital technologies that have evolved due to advancements in this field are Computerized provider order entry (CPOE) systems and Electronic medical records (EMRs). 

CPOEs are specifically designed to reduce a hospital’s paper-based ordering systems. They allow medical institutions to write their medication orders electronically, to maintain online records and they also offer security alerts triggered when unsafe orders are placed. Therefore, CPOE systems can greatly increase efficiency and improve patient safety and patient care. 

EMRs are the digital equivalent of patient paper records that one can find at a physician’s office or other medical facilities. They normally include all the information about a patient’s medical and treatment history, from test results, progress notes, nursing notes, and medication records. EMRs are essential in helping healthcare institutions provide accurate, timely, and efficient care. 

These are just two examples of how nursing informatics has already impacted healthcare. And nowadays, especially with hospitals using CPOEs and EMRs to a greater extent, they need well-prepared specialists – nursing informaticists – with extensive knowledge of both IT and nursing to manage and consistently improve these systems. 

nursing informatics salaries

What Are the Educational Requirements for a Career in Nursing Informatics? 

In order to start a career in nursing informatics, you have to be a Registered Nurse. Having a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing (BSN) at a minimum is a requirement for entering this field, therefore, if you are already a working professional with an ADN diploma, you should consider pursuing a BSN by enrolling in an RN-to-BSN program. This kind of program can be completed in as few as 12 months and is a great stepping stone towards becoming a Nursing Informatics Specialist. 

Find out more information about how long it takes to get your BSN degree, the first requirement you must fulfill to become a Nurse Informatics Specialist. 

If you are thinking of making a career shift towards nursing informatics and wish to pursue an advanced degree but are reluctant to do so because of concerns tied to the Coronavirus pandemic, the best solution for you is to enroll in an online program. 

Because of the pandemic, lots of nursing schools have shifted their focus to online education. At Nightingale College not only do we offer online programs, but we have for the past five years, which has allowed us to continuously improve our curriculum and teaching methods to grant our learners the best quality nursing education possible. 

Enroll in our hybrid BSN program and start your journey towards a career in nursing informatics.  

Advanced education, such as obtaining a Master’s Degree or a Doctoral Degree is not always required but is oftentimes highly recommended. 

Some of the courses you can expect to study as part of your nursing informatics curriculum include statistics for evidence-based practice, database management, clinical information systems, information security, and privacy and informatics theory. 

According to a 2020 HIMSS study, in the field of nursing informatics, continuous nursing development is seen as a priority. Hence, around 37% of nursing informatics specialists have a Master’s degree or a Ph.D. in informatics, a 6% increase compared to 2017. Also, the number of people who have received a certificate in nursing informatics rose to 25% in 2020, while the number of specialists who hold any kind of certification is up to 58%. 

Nursing informatics is, undeniably, a competitive field. So, advancing your education is the best way to ensure your spot in this career. 

nursing informatics education

Increase your chances of becoming a Nursing informaticist by enrolling in an online RN-to-BSN program. 

What Skills & Competencies Do You Need in Order to Become a Nurse Informaticist?

Nursing informatics and traditional nursing, while they do share some common ground, are also very different. But in general, you will make a great Nurse Informaticist if you have strong analytical and critical thinking skills, if you’re passionate about working with technology and if you don’t lose your ground when obstacles come your way. 

Some of the skills you need in order to succeed in the field include, but are not limited to:

  • Interpersonal skills: Working with technology doesn’t mean you no longer have to interact with people. Quite the contrary, nursing informatics professionals serve as the bridge between two worlds, nursing, and technology. Therefore, strong interpersonal skills, like teamwork, empathy, conflict resolution, are essential. 
  • Problem Solving: Working in nursing informatics generally comes with a wide array of problems that need to be solved on a daily basis. These can range from clinical challenges, like improving the way patient data is shared between providers or improving certain processes. Complications can also ensue because you’ll have to work closely with specialists from different disciplines with different levels of expertise. Nonetheless, knowing how to find solutions (and having the patience to do so) to any obstacles that might be thrown your way will help you tremendously. 
  • Knowledge of technology: This is a given in the field of health informatics. Because nurse informatics acts as the liaison between the clinical professionals and the technical members of the team, a high degree of expertise in matters of technology is essential. Skills like knowing computer programming, while not a requirement for most positions, will give you a competitive edge and enlarge your professional options. 
  • Clinical experience: Transitioning to a position in nursing informatics requires as much clinical experience as it does technical. Having personal experience in clinical environments gives nurses a better understanding of how technology actually affects patient care and helps them be better in their new position.

What Is the Job Description for a Nursing Informaticists?

First off, before delving into the job descriptions, we need to address a dilemma. You might come across different titles for jobs related to nursing informatics. Although they can still differ a little bit depending on the employer, in general, these roles fall under the same job description. 

These are the most popular titles for nurses that work in health informatics: 

  • Nurse Informaticist
  • Clinical Informaticist
  • Nursing Informatics Specialist
  • Nursing Informatics Clinician
  • Clinical Informatics Coordinator
  • Clinical Analyst
  • Clinical Nurse Informatics Specialist
  • IT Clinical Nurse
  • Perioperative Informatics Nurse

Nursing Informaticists are mainly focused on the link between patient data and computer systems. They also act as the bridge between clinical nurses and the IT members of the staff. 

What Do Nurse Informaticists Actually Do?

Through the usage of data, Informatics Nurses analyze trends, keep an eye out for potentially dangerous medical errors, and implement user-friendly, patient-centric innovations that help nurses be more efficient at their job. The field of informatics ensures that technology is a consistent part of the daily work of nurses, and in an increasingly digitized society, it’s imperative for healthcare to keep up with the times. 

NIs are responsible for quality control and systems development. They are also in charge of conducting relevant training for the clinical staff when new technologies are introduced. Other common tasks that occur every day are management of different programs, analyzing clinical statistics, or writing policies. 

According to the HIMSS survey conducted in 2020, the top job responsibilities for nursing informaticists are as follows:

44% of Nurse Informaticists see systems implementation as one of the top priorities in terms of job responsibilities. Tasks related to the utilization and optimization of these systems are also very high on the list of duties, with a little over 41% of nursing informatics specialists engaging in this task consistently. 

Nurse Informaticists are also in charge of developing systems that can advance the quality of care, only around 34% of the professionals are working in this area. 

This job comes with a great deal of responsibility in terms of leadership. So, about a third of the nurse informatics that participated in the HIMMS study said they have to manage at least one person, while around 20% declared they are in charge of managing between one and five employees. 

why become a nurse informatician

Where Can You Work as a Nurse Informaticist?

Nursing Informaticists can find employment in a variety of settings, from hospitals and other healthcare facilities to consulting firms, universities, and corporations. 

However, over two-thirds (68%) of the professionals employed in the fieldwork for a hospital or multi-facility health systems. It’s also worth mentioning that more than half work at Magnet hospitals. 

A significant percentage of Nurse Informaticists work for the government or military or in academic settings. 

Nurse Informaticists Salary

Per the HIMMS survey, the majority of nurse informaticists (63%) earn a salary that ranges from $61,000 to $115,000. That is significantly higher compared to the median salary of a traditional Registered Nurse, which according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is around $73,300 annually. 

In order to be able to see how your earning potential as a Nurse Informaticist fares in comparison to other nursing jobs, find out more how much Registered Nurses make in every state

At the same time, over 10% of the professionals working in this field bring home more than $150,000. 

Not only are nurse informaticists some of the top earners, but the job satisfaction levels for people engaged in this career is also very high. Over 77% of RNs employed in informatics jobs have reported being highly satisfied with their informatics career choice

Why is Nursing Informatics Important for the Development of Healthcare? 

Aside from the financial benefits, another important motivation for Registered Nurses to pursue a career in informatics is the meaningfulness of this career. Essentially, what Nurse Informaticists do is improve the quality of healthcare which translates into better, safer, faster outcomes for patients. 

But how exactly does nursing informatics improve the quality of healthcare?

In order for nurses to be able to care for their patients, they need information. Information about medical histories, medication, results in different tests, notes from physicians. It’s this demand for information that allows the nursing workforce to meet the demands of their job

Nurse Informaticist plays a fundamental role in developing, maintaining, and improving the technology that allows for improved communication which leads to safer patient processes. They optimize documentation efficiency and usability, reduce workflow waste, identify safety risks, and constantly innovate, in collaboration with technicians to reduce the ground for human error. 

As a result, electronic medical records and computerized provider ordering have proved pivotal in reducing medical errors, patient care delays, and healthcare costs.

One example that highlights the importance of nursing informatics comes in the context of the current pandemic. Technology is used by healthcare institutions not only to fight the virus but also to improve patient outcomes and assure the safety of front-line workers. Keeping patient records has significantly moved from paper to digital systems, making it safer and faster for nurses and doctors to assess, assist, and treat patients. 

Moreover, Informatics Nurses act as educators, serving as the link between direct care nurses and technological change. They prepare, educate, and train them in the ways that technology is reshaping the healthcare ecosystem. 

The Future is Calling. Are You Ready to Become a Nurse Informaticist? 

As a nurse informaticist, you will be an important player in the healthcare industry. Speaking fluently both the language of the nursing field and of the technology field you will be the common link that unites these two worlds. And that role is increasingly important. In a society that’s becoming progressively digital, the healthcare industry can do nothing but keep up. 

Are you ready to step into the informatics arena? Enroll in Nightingale College’s online RN-to-BSN program!

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