Nursing informatics (NI) is a growing field that helps add insight into analytical and nursing science. In today’s world of big data and information, it’s crucial to offer a robust, clear explanation in nursing practices.
If you’re considering a career in the healthcare industry, this field may be a good option for you.
What is Nursing Informatics?
As a specialist in informatics, you’ll be responsible for a few things:
All three areas listed above are integrated together to improve nursing practices by identifying, defining, managing and communicating data, information and knowledge in the nursing field.
Information technology, processes and structures are all utilized by a nursing informatics specialist who will use this data to support others in the field, such as patients and nurses.
What You’ll Do as a Nursing Informatics Specialist
In NI, you’ll have to deal with a lot of data. So rather than being on the floor and helping patients hands-on, you’ll be responsible for crunching numbers, much like in computer information systems.
You’ll use the data available to you to improve patient outcomes and boost performance.
However, you’ll also go beyond helping patients and may be responsible for:
Reducing hospital costs
Increasing overall efficiency
Additionally, since communication is crucial to patient outcomes, these professionals will find ways to make internal processes quicker. For example, nurse notetaking and charting are often tedious and slow. The person in charge of NI will provide ways to communicate this data in a more refined, efficient manner.
In the end, these professionals help nurses and healthcare facilities make better decisions.
Multiple positions can be held by a nursing informatics specialist, including:
Director of clinical informatics
Clinical informatics coordinator
Informatics nursing specialist
However, you’ll need to have education and experience to enter this nursing specialty.
How Long are Nursing Informatics Programs?
Entering the field of NI requires a wide range of skills, but the primary requirement is to have a bachelor’s degree in the nursing field, or a BSN. The more education you have, the better. Informatics nurse specialist schools can help you better understand the credentials and education you need to enter into the career.
With that said, the following skills and qualifications will help increase your chances of landing a nursing informatics role:
An in-depth understanding of clinical settings
Experience with analyzing and strategizing data
Project management skills
Suppose you may want to enter into an executive role in the future, such as becoming the director of clinical informatics. In that case, you’ll want to pursue additional certifications and possibly a master’s degree. Of course, you can move up in your position over the years and land one of these positions, too.
Higher education that goes beyond a bachelor’s degree simply helps you stand out from the competition.
Informatics Nurse Specialist Schools
Many schools are focusing on nursing informatics, and these schools often require you to go through your master’s degree. Traditionally, a person will complete their BSN degree and then go for their master’s degree in nursing informatics.
Entering into one of these programs demands around 18 months to two years of full-time enrollment, where you’ll learn how to change decision-making and patient outcomes for the better.
Nursing and data management are combined into these programs, where you’ll learn how to:
Enhance patient outcomes through data
Improve healthcare experience
Analyze and interpret data
You’ll also be required to have a thorough understanding of informatics system analysis and design. Data science and analytics are a major part of the learning experience, too. For many nurses, this field is a cross between computer science and nursing, where you’ll rely heavily on data to improve patient outcomes.
Many specialist schools will offer part-time options for those that are already in a career and want to transition to NI.
Courses that you take while at a traditional college or university will often include classes on:
Value-based nursing and quality outcomes
Leadership and management
Data science and analytics
Database management systems
Numerous other related classes.
Nursing informatics programs can vary from school to school, but more schools are beginning to offer this specialty to students.
Nursing Informatics Salary and Jobs
Nursing informatics is growing in demand as more healthcare providers aim to boost the efficiency of both patient care and facility operations. PayScale lists this position as having the following:
$79,487 average base salary
Bonuses of between $300 and $10,000 per year
Nurses with 10+ years in the field seem to be paid the most, with the average salary at this experience level reaching $91,000. Entry-level pay is the lowest, with many specialists entering the field earning $70,000 during their first year.
The highest-paid specialists in this field have a certification and/or a graduate degree.
If you have a Ph.D. or similar degree, over 61% of these professionals will have a salary of over $100,000. Some professionals, even those with master’s degrees or ADN/LPN credentials, earn over $150,000 per year.
Certifications in informatics led to over 50% of holders earning over $100,000 per year.
HIMSS lists numerous information about the field and position in their 2020 survey. What the study found is that most NI specialists will enter a role in one of the following positions:
Nursing Informatics Specialist
Director of Clinical Informatics
Manager of Clinical Informatics
Chief Nursing Informatics Officer
Clinical Applications Specialist
Responsibilities will vary between positions, but most will include: system implementation, system utilization and optimization, development, quality initiatives and reporting, project management, change and control management and informatics education.
The leading workplaces, according to the same survey, are:
Hospitals and/or health systems
Nearly 70% of professionals will end up in a role in a hospital or health system. In addition, more than 50% of respondents state that they’re highly satisfied with their positions, and less than 10% of workers are not satisfied.
If you can learn IT priorities and organizational structure, you’ll have an easier time entering these positions. IT is the largest barrier to success.
The United States remains a leader in nurse informatics, and it’s a position that is likely to continue growing in demand in the future.
Benefits to Expect
Nearly 70% or more of NI specialists report having the following benefits when working in the field:
Paid time off
Medical and dental insurance
It’s also common to receive life insurance and tuition reimbursement. Employers are trying to fill the gap in qualified nursing informatics specialists by offering to cover some or all of their tuition.
If you’re considering a position in the healthcare industry, becoming a nursing informatics specialist may be a good choice for you.