Nursing Informatics Degree Programs
The federal government's 2014 mandate requiring private and public health care organizations to adopt use of electronic health records (EHRs) has been one of the factors driving the increased need for nursing informatics specialists in health care. Other factors include the ongoing deployment of technology, including more real-time bedside devices and even wearable technology. In fact, a new study by the research firm Tractica reports that devices like Google Glass are now being used in hospital operating rooms.
Nurses are helping head this charge in hospitals and health care facilities, particularly as they may be some of the best situated to understand technology's ability to improve patient care. They may need to make choices about the types of devices and software to put to use, how to customize results for the extraction of meaningful data and how to educate nursing staff on the different types of new technology. Nursing informatics specialists complete a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree in Informatics to help them make evidence-based decisions. Many of these nursing informatics degrees can be completed either on a part-time or full-time basis.
Degree Programs in Nursing Informatics
Most degree programs in nursing informatics are available at the master's level. Training can be pursued at a variety of degree levels, with many of the options provided below:
- ADN (or RN) to MSN: Allows registered nurses (RNs) to complete a master's degree in Nursing Informatics while also taking the extra classes needed to supplant the content for a bachelor's degree.
- MSN: RNs who already have a bachelor's degree may find the most options available in the form of an MSN degree when it comes to nursing informatics education.
- Post-master's Certificate: Nurses who already have a MSN in another nursing discipline, or even a different health care field, may be able to take classes specifically in informatics, allowing them to complete a graduate-level certificate instead of an additional full master's degree.
- Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or PhD: These terminal programs help nurses to learn more about evidence-based practice, systems leadership and quality improvement.
And often, but not always, the nursing informatics portion of graduate-level degrees in informatics can even be taken online, providing additional flexibility to nurses still maintaining a full- or part-time career while progressing in their education.
Training in Nursing Informatics
Students in nursing informatics programs typically take a series of core nursing courses, and sometimes even leadership classes, before embarking on their specific coursework in nursing informatics. Once they do, they might take classes, such as:
- Cognitive Informatics in Health Care
- Data Analytics
- Health Care Database Systems
- Human-Technology Interaction in Health Care
- Systems Analysis and Design
- Project Management: Health Care Information Technology
As part of the nursing informatics degree, a practicum may also be required, allowing students to gain hands-on skills working in informatics. Alternatively, students might work on a research project or a management project instead. These specifications will vary from school to school, but students should look to enroll at nursing schools that are accredited either through the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) or the Accrediting Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
Career Outlook for Nursing Informatics
Nursing informatics specialists can work in health care settings, like hospitals or long-term care facilities, but also in other industries such as insurance, technology or even research. According to the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), some 70,000 informatics nurses are said to be needed to keep up with the demand. This should come not only as a result of the federal mandate to make use of EHRs in health care organizations, but also as health care providers look to streamline their budgets and to improve health care delivery.
Furthermore, a Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society shows that the average pay for nursing informatics professionals was $100,717 in 2014, an increase over $98,703 in 2011, $83,675 in 2007 and $69,500 in 2004. Additionally, those working in the Pacific region of the country had the highest salaries, at $117,629. Those working in consulting positions earned more on average, at $141,432, than those working in hospitals, at $96,754. No matter what branch of nursing informatics you decide to pursue, be sure to thoroughly research a variety of education options before enrolling.
- Doctor of Nursing Practice, University of Maryland School of Nursing. https://www.nursing.umaryland.edu/academics/doctoral/dnp/
- Federal Mandates for Healthcare: Digital Record-Keeping Will Be Required of Public and Private Healthcare Providers, University of South Florida. http://www.usfhealthonline.com/news/healthcare/electronic-medical-records-mandate/#.VTf4fxd4hRk
- HIMSS 2014 Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey, Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, http://files.himss.org/FileDownloads/2014-Nursing-Informatics-Workforce-Salary-Resource-Guide.pdf
- Nursing Informatics, Duke University School of Nursing. http://nursing.duke.edu/sites/default/files/academics/matplans/sample_mat_plan_-_nursing_informatics_-_fall_start_-_part_time.pdf
- Nursing Informatics, American Medical Informatics Association. https://www.amia.org/programs/working-groups/nursing-informatics
- Nursing Informatics, University of Maryland, School of Nursing. https://www.nursing.umaryland.edu/academics/grad/specialties/ni/
- Summary Report for Informatics Nurse Specialists, O*NET OnLine, http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/15-1121.01?redir=15-1051.01#WagesEmployment
- Wearable Devices for Enterprise and Industrial Markets, Tractica. https://www.tractica.com/research/wearable-devices-for-enterprise-and-industrial-markets/