Nursing Informatics Specialist Job Description & Career Outlook

nurse looking at information on tablet

Nursing informatics is a growing field that can make a significant difference in healthcare delivery and outcomes. Nursing informatics specialists combine their clinical nursing skills with technical knowledge to create systems that can greatly improve the quality of patient care.

The role of technology in healthcare settings is becoming increasingly vital. As more hospitals and healthcare systems use tools like electronic medical records (EMR) or computerized coding, they’ll need dedicated IT departments staffed by professionals who understand both medicine and tech at an advanced level. As a nurse informaticist, you can become a core member or leader of this IT team.

Nursing Informatics: Using Data to Improve Patient Care

Nursing informatics is a field dedicated to delivering high-quality patient care through efficient management of data and technical systems. Using data, an informatics nurse can analyze trends, monitor for any consistent errors, and implement new, more efficient systems. Informatics brings advanced technology to the daily work of nurses.

You might encounter many different titles for jobs within nursing informatics. While the specifics of these roles may vary by employer, they typically fit the same job description. Some common titles in nursing informatics include:

  • Nurse informaticist
  • Nursing informatics specialist
  • Nursing informatics clinician
  • Clinical informatics coordinator
  • Clinical analyst
  • Clinical nurse informatics specialist
  • IT clinical nurse
  • Perioperative informatics nurse

Nursing Informaticist Job Description

As a nursing informaticist, you’ll work with patient data and computer systems. Unlike healthcare informatics, which is focused more on administrative issues, nursing informatics is dedicated to patient care. Many nurse informaticists act as a point of communication between clinical nurses and IT staff. They can report feedback on new systems and technology directly from the staff who are using it each day.

Nurse informaticists can also be responsible for tasks such as quality control, systems development, and the training of clinical staff.

What nurse informaticists do on a daily basis

According to a 2017 survey conducted by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS)hospitals are the most common employer for nursing informaticists. At 40%, systems implementation was the most frequently reported job responsibility, and includes selecting and preparing new technology, as well as training and supporting the nursing staff on the how to use it.

Other common daily tasks might include:

  • Tracking the success of quality initiatives
  • Project management
  • Analyzing clinical statistics
  • Optimizing system performance
  • Writing policies

How nurse informaticists fit into a healthcare organization

As a professional who has skills in both nursing and technology, a nurse informaticist can serve as an important bridge between clinical staff and technical advancement. Since most people in these roles have strong clinical nursing backgrounds, they can make sure the tools and procedures being implemented will be user-friendly and practical for the rest of the staff. They’re also able to focus the training of new technology on how it will improve their ability to care for patients.

For example, you might prepare training for a team of medical-surgical nurses on the use of a new electronic medication dispensing system. After the training, you’ll then serve as their point of contact for any questions or concerns that come up as the system is put in place.

Skills of successful nursing informatics specialists

Nursing informatics is different from traditional nursing, and it might require you to have additional skills and personality traits. Some that can help you succeed include:

  • Problem-solving
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Clinical expertise
  • Management ability
  • Good organization
  • Knowledge of technology
  • Analytical thinking
  • Communication skills
  • Leadership experience
  • Innovative thinking
  • Teaching ability
  • Strong information retention

Education & Certification Requirements

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You’ll need to be a registered nurse (RN) to start a career in nursing informatics. From there, you might have the option to learn through on-the-job training, however formal education is increasingly required to work in the field. Degrees for RNs looking to get into nurse informatics can be earned at the bachelor’s, master’s, or even doctoral level.

If you’re currently an RN with an associate’s degree in nursing (AND), you might want to look into earning a bachelor’s in healthcare administration or informatics. If you already have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or are looking to advance your career further, you might want to consider earning a master’s in nursing informaticsor even a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.

No matter which option you choose, having a formal education can help you advance your career. However, as 57% of HIMSS respondents reported having at least a master’s degree, advanced education can help you stand out to potential employers in this increasingly competitive field.

Professional certifications

Among respondents to the HIMSS survey, 79% felt that having a professional certification enhanced their credibility and marketability, while a whopping 82% felt that having certification had a positive impact on their career. As the field grows, certification is becoming a greater requirement for many employers.

Certifications are offered by American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the HIMSS. The ANCC Informatics Nursing Certification (RN-BC) is the most commonly held credential among informatics nurses and is also most likely to be required by an employer. HIMSS offers 2 certifications: the entry-level Certified Associate in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CAHIMS) certification and the advanced-level Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS).

How Much Will I Get Paid?

Nursing informatics can be a highly paid field compared to other healthcare careers. While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t provide data for nurse informatics specifically, computer systems analysts—roles that have similar duties—are reported to earn an average income of $88,270 a year. What’s more, according to HIMSS respondents, 46% of people earned an annual salary of more than $100,000.

Career Paths: What Can I Do with a Nursing Informatics Degree?

The role of technology in healthcare is constantly expanding, and, with it, the scope of nursing informatics is expanding as well. But since it’s still a growing field, career paths aren’t as defined as they might be in more established careers. The path you take as an nursing informatics specialist depends on your employer, your experience, your education, and your preferences.

Though working directly within a hospital unit is the most common, you could transition to working with healthcare vendors, focusing on the sale of technology to healthcare facilities, or branch into nursing programming to create the programs that nurses use while delivering care.

Chief nursing informatics officer job description

If you’re looking for an advanced leadership and administration role in nursing informatics, your career path could lead you to a job as a Chief Nursing Informatics Officer (CNIO). In this role, you’ll develop and manage the communication practices, trainings, systems, and technologies that are vital to delivering high-quality patient care.

You need at least a master’s degree in nursing or informatics, though a DNP or PhD in Nursing are often preferred. You’ll need to hold an active and unrestricted RN license, as well as a professional certification from the ANCC.

Are Nurse Informaticists in Demand?

With the number of Americans over age 65 expected to double by 2060, nurses of all levels and specialties will continue to be in high demand as this population deals with age-related issues. The BLS projects that all jobs within healthcare will see a growth of 18% through 2026.

Ready to Get Started?

As a nursing informatics specialist, you’ll act as an integral part of the healthcare field, making sure the proper computers and systems are put in place to optimize care for your patients. If you have a love for technology and problem-solving and want to use your nursing skills in a new way, this rewarding career might just be for you.

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