By: Brittney Wilson, RN, BSN, Clinical Informatics Nurse
Brittney Wilson, RN, BSN, also known as The Nerdy Nurse, is a Clinical Informatics Nurse practicing in Georgia. In her day job she gets to do what she loves every day: combine technology and healthcare to improve patient outcomes. She can best be described as a patient nurse and technology advocate who has a passion for using technology to innovate, improve and simplify lives, especially in healthcare. Brittney blogs about nursing issues, technology, healthcare, parenting and various lifestyle topics at TheNerdyNurse.com.
BestNursingDegree.com wants to help you find the right Nursing Informatics program for you. Request information from multiple schools to make sure you find the right school for you while increasing your chances for acceptance. Be sure to consider online programs as they provide a similar learning experience with added flexibility.
About Nursing Informatics
According to the American Medical Informatics Association, "Nursing Informatics is the science and practice (that) integrates nursing, its information and knowledge, with management of information and communication technologies to promote the health of people, families, and communities worldwide." But a single definition cannot even begin to describe the diversity that exists within the Nursing Informatics specialty. It's a new and challenging nursing career path that allows nurses the ability to work behind the scenes to positively impact patient care.
Nursing Informatics is a fast-paced, ever-changing and relatively new specialty in nursing. It combines technology and the unique skill-set and expertise of a nurse. This dynamic combination comes together in career path for nurses that is constantly changing but always in demand. Clinical Informatics nurses often act as a translator between technology professionals and healthcare staff who work on the floor and in the field. Clinical professionals and technically minded individuals don't always understand each other and Informatics nurses are needed to pull everything together. While many may think that Informatics is only a few years old, it has actually been around since the 1970's. However, this still makes it one of the newer specialties. In recent years, the introduction of HITECH Act and Affordable Care Act have increased the demand for nursing with a flair for technology and right the experience and education. Because of this, Nursing Informatics is currently a fast growing nursing specialty that has garnered a lot of attention.show all schools
Most Informatics nurses have an education level of BSN at minimum. In order to have a competitive edge and the specialist knowledge to make the transition into Nursing Informatics, an MSN program is highly recommended.
Salary expectations for nurse administrators will vary, but according to the HIMSS 2011 Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey, the median salary in 2011 was $98,702 per year. According to Suzanne Richins, MBA health care nursing faculty at American Sentinel University "The job market for a health care Informatics specialist is especially bright. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates a 49 percent job growth in health information and health informatics and health care informatics was named by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top careers in the U.S."
Areas of Expertise for Nursing Informatics
Informatics nurses understand two very different areas: information systems and technology and various types of nursing. Nurses in this field use their nursing education and years of experience to help other nurses better utilize technology systems. They are also gifted problem-solvers who can think on their toes and make things happen. Nurses in Informatics roles advocate for the needs of the nurses in new technology systems and work to ensure that technology is practical and functional. These nurses are needed in many areas of healthcare, from healthcare facilities to electronic medical records (EMR) software vendors.
The Nursing Informatics specialty touches all other nursing specialties and practice locations. This means that nurses without almost any background or specialty are valuable in an Informatics role. Because EMR systems touch every nursing specialty from Medical Surgical to OR nurses who know these workflows provide critical insight into the real-world scenarios that nurses use to document patient care. Whether it is an acute care facility or an ambulatory setting, chances are that Nursing Informatics is involved behind the scenes. They help build the documentation templates and organize the workflow that nurses and other clinical staff will use when interacting with the EMR system.
If a hospital is adopting a new technology that nurses will use then Informatics nurses should be involved from the beginning. They will act as the liaison between nurses on the floor and often as project managers for implementation.
Options Available for Nursing Informatics
The nursing informatics role is called many names in many different healthcare facilities. Some of the most common titles for Informatics nurses are as follows:
- Clinical Informatics Nurse
- Clinical Analysts
- Nurse Informaticists
- Clinical Application Coordinator
- Clinical Applications Engineer
- Nursing Informatics Engineer
- Clinical Software Analyst
- Clinical Informatics Specialist
- Informatics Coordinator
Just as the job titles vary so do the responsibilities of informatics nurses. In some healthcare organizations these professions are used as the primary support for the Clinical Informatics systems and EMR. In other organizations they are used to consult on the EMR and provide better workflow for the staff on the floor. They might also function as the primary information technology educators for the nurses in the facility.
Informatics nurses can also work directly for EMR software vendors and clinical nursing equipment manufactures to help produce and support the software and medical equipment that nurses will use. These nurses are valuable because they ensure that vendors design products that meet the needs of healthcare systems while advocating for the needs of the nurse and the patient.
Informatics nurses are vital in creating successful EMR systems. Because nurses and other staff use when documenting patient care, nurses need to be involved at every level of software development and implementation. Most major EMR vendors hire nurses to consult on the development of the systems, provide support, and in many cases build and code the software. They also may involve nurses in implementing the EMR system and working directly with the healthcare facilities to ensure that the system is operating appropriately and effectively.
Consulting is another popular area where Informatics nursing is valuable. Many experienced Informatics nurses work on a contract basis assisting healthcare organizations to implement software. This allows many Informatics nurses the ability to work in many different areas and travel the country supporting and implementing EMR systems.
Nursing Informatics Education Expectations
Curricula for a Master's in Nursing Informatics will vary from university to university, however you will likely find that the overall content of the courses is mostly the same. Some courses that you might be expected to take include the following:
- Statistics for the Health Professions
- Research in Nursing
- Nursing Issues & Trends Within the Health Care Delivery System
- Population Focused Care
- Consumers and Interactive Health Care
- Assessment and Analysis of Clinical and Nursing Information Systems
- Database Design and Decision Support on Clinical and Nursing Information Systems
- Implementation, Management and Evaluation of Clinical and Nursing Systems
- Critical Analysis of the Scientific Underpinnings of Advanced Nursing Practice
- Health Systems Analysis and Design
- Organizational & Systems Leadership
- Informatics and Quality of Care Improvement
- Strategic Resource Management in Health
- Nursing Administration Finance and Budgeting
- Evidence-Based Practice and Quality Improvement in Health Care
Many MSN in Nursing Informatics programs offer their coursework online. With this approach, even a busy nurse can find time to complete an Informatics degree. Many universities offer online curricula that have no set check-in or lecture times. Although many of these programs do require some sort of practicum prior to gradation, this can usually be arranged with a local facility or you can sometimes utilize your time spent at work as practicum hours.
Many find that deciding between taking online classes and a campus class program can be difficult. However, there are benefits to both options. A traditional campus classroom offers face-to-face time with your classmates and professor. Online programs allow students the ability to work on their own time, but still get the benefit of working in a group.
- Duke University (Durham, NC): Duke University School of Nursing offers a distance learning Masters of Science in Nursing degree in the Informatics specialty. In order to meet the growing demand of the healthcare industry, Duke University has expanded their healthcare and Nursing Informatics program. Their program includes synchronous and a synchronous methods and is a trend-setter in Informatics nursing programs. Their program emphasis is on Clinical Informatics and real-world application. This program is closely tied with their Health Iinformatics offering and incorporates interdisciplinary practice into the course study. One of the biggest draws of Duke University's Nursing Informatics program is that it offers at least one 100% scholarship per semester. There are also scholarships available that include a stipend for living expenses. Successful completion of the program will prepare nurses to sit for the American Nurses' Credentialing Center Nursing Informatics certification. This certification is growing in popularity and gives Informatics nurses added expertise for job searching.
- Pittsburgh University (Pittsburgh, PA): Another university that offers an informatics program is the University of Pittsburgh. They offer and MSN Nursing Informatics Nurse Specialty Role program that is available online as well as onsite. They accept students from most US states.
- Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN): Vanderbilt University School of Nursing offers a Master of Science in Nursing with a focus on Nursing Informatics. They have a variety of attendance options that allow nurses to continue to work full-time while pursuing higher education. Informatics students are only required on campus a total of 3 times during their study.