Introduction to Nursing Informatics
As the face of healthcare is evolving, so are the job prospects for RNs. Society typically views nursing as the bedside nurse – taking blood pressure, administering medications, starting IVs. While this view of nursing is not inaccurate, there are many different avenues for the RN. For the RN who desires optimizing patient outcomes and also working with computers, becoming a nursing informatics RN may be the route to take.
Nursing Informatics Overview
- What You Will Do: Nursing Informatics RNs blend nursing science with information and computer science to manage and communicate data in the healthcare setting. Tasks may include system development and implementation, data analysis, workflow optimization, and training healthcare staff on informatics systems.
- Where You Will Work: These professionals can work in a range of healthcare settings, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, healthcare IT companies, universities, and public health departments. They may also find opportunities in consulting and policy-making roles.
- Employment Projections: The demand for Nursing Informatics RNs is projected to grow as healthcare continues to become more technology-driven. The introduction and refinement of electronic health records, digital diagnostic systems, and telemedicine are among the trends driving this growth.
- How Much Will You Earn: Salaries for Nursing Informatics RNs can vary greatly depending on factors such as location, experience, and education. However, due to the specialized nature of their work, they often earn more than the median wage for registered nurses, which was around $73,300 annually as of 2021.
- How Long Does it Take to Become a Nursing Informatics RN: After earning an RN degree (2-4 years) and passing the NCLEX-RN exam, an aspiring Nursing Informatics RN will typically need further education in informatics, such as a postgraduate certificate or Master’s degree, which can take an additional 1-3 years. Some also gain clinical experience in a healthcare setting that utilizes health informatics.
- Requirements to Become a Nursing Informatics RN: Firstly, one must earn an RN degree and pass the NCLEX-RN exam. After this, further education in nursing informatics, often at the postgraduate level, is required. Some may also opt to obtain a certification, such as the Informatics Nursing Certification (RN-BC) from the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
Steps to Become a Nursing Informatics RN
As our healthcare landscape becomes increasingly digital, the field of nursing informatics has emerged as a vital specialty within nursing. As an intersection of nursing, computer science, and information management, nursing informatics plays a key role in improving patient outcomes and operational efficiency. If you’re drawn to the integration of healthcare and technology, a career in nursing informatics could be a rewarding path. Here are the steps typically involved in becoming a Nursing Informatics RN:
- Earn Your RN Degree: Start by obtaining an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited program.
- Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam: Upon graduation, you must take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to obtain licensure.
- Gain Clinical Experience: It’s often beneficial to gain some experience working in a clinical setting that utilizes health informatics. This will help you understand the practical applications of informatics in a healthcare setting.
- Further Your Education: Pursue additional education in nursing informatics. This could be a postgraduate certificate or a Master’s degree in Nursing Informatics.
- Obtain Certification: While not always mandatory, getting certified can enhance your credibility. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers the Informatics Nursing Certification (RN-BC).
What is a Nursing Informatics (NI) RN?
According to Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), nursing informatics is “…the specialty that integrates nursing science with multiple information management and analytical sciences to identify, define, manage, and communicate data, information, knowledge, and wisdom in nursing practice. NI supports nurses, consumers, patients, the interprofessional healthcare team, and other stakeholders in their decision-making in all roles and settings to achieve desired outcomes.” Basically, the NI RN uses technology in the healthcare setting to make work easier for employees, while also using evidence-based practice to achieve excellent patient outcomes. Becoming a NI RN is ideal for the RN who also has skills dealing with information technology (IT) and who wants to change the face of healthcare in their facility.
What Does a Nursing Informatics RN Do on a Daily Basis?
HIMSS notes that the NI RN has a variety of responsibilities. Initially, these nurses got their start in IT with the implementation of electronic health records (EHRs) – they worked with the IT department of a facility develop, implement and train facility staff in the usage of the EHR. NI RN still have this responsibility, but their place in IT has greatly expanded.
The NI RN may be directly involved in ordering all testing and then ordering all types of technology for their facility. HIMSS also notes that NI RN “…is an integral part of healthcare delivery and a differentiating factor in the selection, implementation, and evaluation of health IT that supports safe, high quality, patient-centric care.” Basically, the NI RN is involved in all aspects of technology of their facility, from the EHR, to electronic equipment used at the bedside, to developing programs that will provide the best outcomes for their patients.
How Do I Become a Nursing Informatics RN?
According to the American Nurses Association’s Nursing Informatics: Scope and Standards of Practice, there are two types of NI RNs. The informatics nurse specialist (INS) is an RN who holds a graduate degree specific to the field of nursing informatics. An informatics nurse (IN) is an RN who has knowledge and training in nursing informatics, but who does not hold a graduate degree specific to nursing informatics.
The first step to becoming a NI RN is obtaining a bachelor’s degree. This is typically minimum requirement to become a NI RN. The job requirements will depend on the job responsibilities and facility policies. However, obtaining a BSN degree may be a stepping stone into the field. Some facilities may require a graduate degree; for example, University of Southern Florida has a graduate degree program that will allow the RN to obtain a master’s of health informatics degree through an online program.
Having a nursing degree is optimal for the field of nursing informatics; while this is not required in all facilities, most prefer to hire RNs because they already have knowledge in medicine.
To advance to a master’s degree or doctoral in nursing, a student must complete an accredited nursing program and obtain a BSN. Successful completion of the NCLEX-RN is needed for licensure. The length of time it takes to earn an MSN depends on the nurse’s starting point:
- Nursing students enrolled in a BSN program will take about 4 years
- RN to BSN takes about two years
- BSN to MSN takes about two years
- BSN to DNP takes three to four years
- MSN to DNP takes one to two years
Where Do Nursing Informatics RN Typically Work?
Nursing Informatics RNs can work in a diverse range of healthcare environments due to the universal need for data management and technology integration in the modern healthcare landscape. These environments include:
- Hospitals: These large institutions require significant data management and often have dedicated informatics teams.
- Outpatient Clinics: Here, nursing informatics professionals may assist with implementing and maintaining electronic health record systems and other technologies to streamline patient care.
- Healthcare IT Companies: These companies develop and sell healthcare technology products and services and often hire nursing informatics professionals for their insight into the practical needs of healthcare providers.
- Universities: Academic institutions may hire Nursing Informatics RNs for research or teaching positions related to healthcare technology.
- Public Health Departments: At the local or state level, these entities may employ Nursing Informatics RNs to manage public health data and inform policy decisions.
Nursing Informatics RN Education
Earning an RN degree is the foundational step in becoming a Nursing Informatics RN. This can be achieved through an associate’s or bachelor’s degree program in nursing, which typically takes 2-4 years. After earning their RN degree and passing the NCLEX-RN examination to gain licensure, aspiring nursing informatics professionals generally seek further education specifically in informatics. This could be a postgraduate certificate or a Master’s degree in nursing informatics, which can take an additional 1-3 years.
What is a Typical Nursing Informatics RN Curriculum?
The curriculum for a nursing informatics program generally combines elements of nursing science, computer science, and information management. Though curricula can vary widely between different programs, common topics often include:
- Data Management and Health Information Technology: Courses cover topics such as database design, data analytics, and the use of various healthcare technology systems, including electronic health records and telehealth platforms.
- Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety: These courses often explore how informatics can be used to enhance patient outcomes and operational efficiency.
- Project Management: As they may be involved in implementing new technology systems, nursing informatics professionals often need a solid foundation in project management principles.
- Legal and Ethical Issues in Healthcare Informatics: Students learn about issues such as data privacy and security, ethical considerations in data use, and relevant laws and regulations.
Along with these, there’s typically a capstone or practicum component that offers hands-on experience in a real-world healthcare setting. It’s always advisable to refer to the specific curriculum of the program you’re interested in, as course offerings can vary.
What is the Job Outlook for the Nursing Informatics RN?
The job outlook for Nursing Informatics RNs is bright. As healthcare continues to evolve and integrate more technology, the demand for professionals skilled in both nursing and information management is likely to grow. Whether it’s implementing electronic health record systems, improving operational efficiency through data analysis, or contributing to telehealth strategies, the role of a Nursing Informatics RN is becoming increasingly essential in our digital age.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected growth for registered nurses was 7% from 2019 to 2029, which is faster than the average for all occupations. This favorable job outlook is also expected to apply to the specialized field of nursing informatics.
However, these are estimates and actual job growth may vary depending on a variety of factors, including technological advancements, healthcare policies, and regional needs. For the most accurate and current information regarding job outlook for Nursing Informatics RNs and registered nurses in your specific state, refer to this overview of projected demand for nursing professions.
While these trends offer an optimistic picture for those interested in nursing informatics, it’s important to consider your own interests, skills, and career goals when making career decisions. The best job is not only one with good prospects but also one that fulfills and motivates you.
How Much Can I Expect to Earn as a Nursing Informatics RN?
Nursing Informatics RNs can expect to earn a substantial income due to their specialized skillset and the important role they play in healthcare operations. As with many professions, salaries can vary widely based on factors such as geographical location, level of education, years of experience, and the specific institution of employment. As of 2021, the median wage for registered nurses was around $73,300 annually according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, due to their unique skills and the growing demand for their expertise, Nursing Informatics RNs can often expect to earn higher than the median wage for registered nurses.
For more specific, current, and state-by-state data on registered nursing salaries, including those for Nursing Informatics RNs, check out this 2023 salary report for registered nurses. This resource can provide valuable insights into what you might expect to earn in your particular circumstances.
n the job descriptions for an NI RN in the desired facility of employment, then work towards other requirements of the job, such as learning various computer programs, obtaining any necessary certifications, and possible obtain a graduate degree specific to nursing informatics.
Nursing Informatics Resources and Organizations
- American Nurses Informatics Association (ANIA): ANIA is a professional organization that aims to advance nursing informatics through education, research, and practice. They provide resources such as webinars, a job board, a peer-reviewed journal, and an annual conference.
- Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS): HIMSS is a global advisor and thought leader supporting the transformation of the health ecosystem through information and technology. They offer a vast array of resources and networking opportunities, including conferences, training and certification programs, and publications.
- American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA): AMIA aims to lead the way in transforming health care through trusted science, education, and the practice of informatics. AMIA’s members are at the intersection of healthcare, technology, and science, and they provide resources like publications, conferences, and educational programs.
- Informatics Nursing Certification (RN-BC) from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC): The ANCC provides the Informatics Nursing Certification (RN-BC), a valuable credential for nurses in the informatics field. They also offer resources and tools for exam preparation.
- About the Author
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Krystina is an RN with a varied background. She has worked on a telemetry unit, an allergy/immunotherapy clinic and is currently working in diabetes education, pursuing her Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) certification. She has traveled the long road to her bachelor’s degree – she began her nursing career as an LPN, graduating from a local university. She pursued first her ADN, then BSN from Excelsior College.