Informatics Nurse: Education and Career Information
As time marches forward, modern technology is becoming an increasingly vital force in virtually every industry, business sector, and marketplace. And, the healthcare field is certainly no exception. So, if you’re considering a career as an informatics nurse, the timing has never been better.
In order to stay abreast of the latest technological advancements, increasing numbers of medical facilities and healthcare organizations are recognizing the importance of employing one or more specialists in nursing informatics. Quoting a 2016 survey by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), the independent nursing education resource – All Nursing Schools – found that a full 95 percent of healthcare industry professionals polled “view health IT as a strategically critical tool to help healthcare organizations be successful.” More than half of survey respondents went on to indicate that nursing informatics can play a critical role in primary care efficiency, clinical integration, quality metrics, overall care coordination, and other efforts that are directly focused on the improvement of patient care standards.
Nursing Informatics Defined
HIMSS describes the relatively diverse field of nursing informatics as “a specialty that integrates nursing science with multiple information management and analytical sciences.” The overarching purpose of his specialty is to recognize, define, categorize, communicate, and generally manage important data in clinical nursing practice. In short, informatics nursing, as a profession, lies at the intersection of the nursing, computer, and information sciences.
What does an Informatics Nurse do?
As an informatics nurse, you will draw upon a range of healthcare information management and data analysis skills to support your fellow nurses and the rest of your comprehensive medical team. Your work will also benefit patients, healthcare consumers, and other stakeholders in the medical decision-making process.
In its general job description for the informatics nurse position, All Nursing Schools lists systems preparation/training, customized systems development, and overall quality control as the principal focus areas for nursing informatics specialists.
After finding work in the field of nursing informatics, you’ll often act as the liaison between nurses and technology people. Your ability to act as a translator between the medical language of healthcare providers and the high-tech jargon of IT professionals will be a key factor in your overall on-the-job performance. Other specific tasks commonly performed by informatics nurses include:
•Providing technical support to IT system users
•Choosing appropriate IT modalities
•Optimizing IT systems and performing regular IT system maintenance
•Consulting with nurses to improve upon hardware and software configurations
•Scrutinize information systems data in order to maximize nursing care efficiency and mitigate errors
•Distribute nursing informatics information among both healthcare professionals and the public at large
The important thing to keep in mind when pursuing a career in nursing informatics is that, although it is considerably more technical than most other nursing careers, the main goal of the field remains solidly centered around the delivery and enhancement of quality patient care. By improving the operation of vital information systems and the management of essential medical data, you can significantly reduce medical errors and ensure greater patient security/confidentiality.
How much does an Informatics Nurse Earn?
The standard salary of a nursing informatics specialist varies slightly depending on whom you ask. The trusted online salary reporting organization PayScale reports an income range for informatics nurses that begins at $66,812 and tops out at $107,082. This means that the profession supports a median salary of $82,846 per year. All Nursing Schools places the median annual salary a bit higher at $85,800 and goes on to state that, with additional advanced degrees and postgraduate professional certification, the earning potential of an informatics nurse can rise even higher.
According the results of the HIMSS Salary Calculator & Compensation Survey, the median salary of an informatics nurse can change significantly depending on where you live. Thanks to the inclusion of high-tech meccas such as Seattle and San Francisco, the Pacific region boasts the highest paying nursing informatics positions in America, while the southwestern and south central United States report the lowest earning potential in the field.
No matter where you live, however, pay rates for the average informatics nurse is clearly on the rise. Citing statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the global nursing community Nurse Journal expects compensation for informatics nurses to increase by 26 percent by 2020.
Like many areas of nursing, nursing informatics is growing because people are living longer and longer, thus increasing the demand for a broad spectrum of healthcare services. The field of nursing informatics also benefits from the ongoing, exponential, and seemingly limitless growth of the technology sector.
What Types of Skills are Necessary to become Successful in Nursing Informatics?
All Nursing Schools singles out effective communication as the single most important skill to foster in preparation of a career in the nursing informatics field. This means that you must excel as both a clear and logical speaker and a careful and active listener. Other traits of an exceptional informatics nurse include:
•Analytical thinking and problem-solving capabilities
•Outstanding judgment and decision-making capabilities
•A tremendous love for and tendency toward organization
•The ability to establish and maintain strong interpersonal relationships
•The ability to learn on the job while simultaneously teaching others
•The ability to think in an original fashion and generate many diverse ideas
What are the Education Requirements of an Informatics Nurse?
Although computer science training is absolutely an essential component for those who want to enter the nursing informatics field, the main entry point to this career is a registered nurse (RN) license. In order to register as an RN, you must earn an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in nursing from an approved nursing school. However, because most healthcare informatics jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree, a Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) is strongly recommended. This degree typically takes four years to complete.
If you want to specialize in nursing informatics at a more elite academic level, going on to earn a Master of Science in nursing (MSN) is the next logical step. This degree is not required for most entry-level informatics positions, but can be helpful for administrative or management posts. It typically takes two or three years to complete.
After you’ve completed your degree program, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for any US state in which you intend to work. Professional informatics nurses can go on to earn two different specialized certification credentials through the HIMSS. If you have a bachelor’s degree and less than six years of experience in healthcare IT, you can take an exam to earn the Certified Associate in Healthcare Information Management Systems (CAHIMS) credential. If you have a bachelor’s degree and six years of experience or less, you can take an exam to earn the Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS).
What are the Internship Requirements of an Informatics Nurse?
Although internships are not required to become an informatics nurse, professionals in the field recommend securing hands-on training as an official intern or a volunteer at a respected healthcare institution. HIMSS informatics nurse, Cheryl Parker, argues that an internship and/or volunteer service will not only give you experience, but you identify the specific areas of informatics role that interest you most.