Nursing informatics is a sub field of health informatics that involves the application of information technology to the duties and skills of nurses. It incorporates the principles of nursing, information science, and computer technology to improve the quality of the nursing practice. The field assists with the assimilation of data, information, and knowledge to provide support to patients, nurses, and other healthcare providers. The incorporation of information technology into the nursing field allows the appropriate flow of information gathered by nurses, improves access to patient information, and improves nursing abilities to monitor and assess the quality of care.
Duties of Nurse Informaticists
Nurse informaticists receive specialized training to assist in the management, interpretation, and communication of important medical information in the computer systems of various types of medical facilities, such as hospitals, clinics, and private doctor’s offices. Nurse informaticists commonly work in the information systems departments of medical facilities. They typically evaluate the computer systems, processes, applications, and tools used by nurses to manage healthcare information. Additionally, they may meet with members of a medical team to provide suggestions on how to improve the processes of computer programs to enhance the care for patients. Nurse informaticists also act as liaisons between nurses and technical staff. Some nurse informaticists complete administrative duties and others provide education to nurses on how to correctly input medical data into a computer system and how to use new technology. Nurse informaticists typically have little to no direct contact with patients.
Required Education for Nurse Informaticists
Nurse informaticists must be registered nurses with a solid understanding of information technology. They are required to complete an approved nursing education program and many select institutions that offer specializations in nursing informatics. After completion of an undergraduate program, individuals must become licensed by receiving a passing score on the NCLEX-RN examination. In general, nurse informaticists have gained substantial clinical experience as a staff nurse before pursuing informatics positions. Many gain certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
There are a variety of education programs for nurses seeking training in nursing informatics. Many schools offer a Master of Science in Nursing with concentration in nursing informatics. Some offer a master’s degree in nursing administration with focus on nursing informatics. Continuing education for nurse informaticists is available through various outlets, including institutions that host informatics conferences. These conferences are commonly held on weekends and focus on various topics related to nursing informatics such as computer technology, human factors, information management, systems analysis and design, system testing, and trends and issues in the nursing informatics field.
The job titles, roles, and work settings vary greatly for nurse informaticists and there are a variety of responsibilities a nurse in this position can take on. Nurse informaticists may be referred to as informatics nurses, clinical nurse analysts, clinical informatics specialists, implementation specialists, or nursing systems analysts. Examples of responsibilities include education, product design and development, project management, system testing, implementation of systems, research, and evaluation. The work settings for these individuals can be any healthcare organization including large hospitals, outpatient clinics, rehabilitation centers, home care agencies, nursing schools, or consulting organizations. Nurse informaticists are needed in a wide range of facilities that process medical information.
Career Outlook and Salary for Nurse Informaticists
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall job outlook for registered nurses is projects to increase by 26 percent by the year 2020. Due to the constant expansion of healthcare information technology, the demand for nurse informaticists will continue to rise. More positions for nurse informaticists will stem from medical facilities’ constantly incorporating new technology. Payscale.com states the national average salary for nursing informatics specialists is between $50,610 and $93,829. Actual yearly salaries for nurse informaticists will depend on location, employer, education level, certifications, and experience.
Nursing Informatics Resources
Even though to date there has been minimal research completed specifically for nursing informatics, a body of nursing informatics literature is available in articles and books. Additionally, nurse informaticists can look beyond nursing informatics and study clinical or healthcare informatics. Clinical informatics is a more broad term and incorporates all clinical areas, like pharmacy, respiratory therapy, and radiology. There are also local, regional, and national informatics groups that support education and networking.