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Nursing Informatics Education, Schools, and Career Overview

The federal government's 2014 mandate requiring private and public healthcare organizations to adopt use of electronic health records (EHRs) has been one of the factors driving the increased need for nursing informatics specialists in healthcare. Other factors include the ongoing deployment of technology, including more real-time bedside devices and even wearable technology.

Nurses are helping head this charge in hospitals and healthcare 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.

Degree Programs in Nursing Informatics

Most degree programs in nursing informatics are available at the master's level, although education can be pursued at a variety of degree levels, such as the following options:

  • ADN (or RN) to MSN programs: These allow registered nurses (RNs) to earn a master's degree in nursing informatics while also taking the extra classes needed to supplant the content for a bachelor's degree program.
  • MSN programs: RNs who already have a bachelor's degree may find that an Master of Science in Nursing program can provide the most options available for further education in when it comes to nursing informatics.
  • Post-master's Certificate: Nurses who already have a MSN in another nursing discipline, or even a different healthcare field, may be able to take classes specifically in informatics, allowing them to earn a graduate-level certificate instead of an additional full master's degree.
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or PhD programs: 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 degree programs 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.

Coursework 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 a nursing informatics degree program, 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 can 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 and Salary Information

Nursing informatics specialists can work in healthcare 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 healthcare organizations, but also as healthcare providers look to streamline their budgets and to improve healthcare delivery.

Sources:

  • 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

Nursing Informatics Schools