Nursing informatics are specialists within the nursing profession that combine their nursing skills with their knowledge of computer science. They serve a variety of functions within healthcare organizations, from automating nursing care to building new computer systems. They work with data, collecting, organizing, and interpreting it in order to make patient care more efficient and higher quality. They work in a range of settings, such as insurance companies, hospitals, and consulting firms. They may write programs that will be used by nurses. They may train nurses and other healthcare workers in the proper use of computer systems. They may interview workers and identify their technological needs. Or they may work for specific vendors, demonstrating products to targeted consumers.
Nursing informatics need to be technologically inclined. They need to have well-developed critical thinking and problem-solving skills. They should have well-developed communication skills, and the ability to observe accurately and make decisions accordingly. They must be willing to work with a team, as well as supervise others. Due to the intense nature of the work, nursing informatics should be emotionally stable and have a sympathetic disposition.
In 2002, nursing informatics earned a median annual salary of $48,090. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10 percent, who earned less than $33,970, and the highest 10 percent, who earned more than $69,670.
Training and Education
Nursing informatics must first become registered nurses (RNs) by earning their nursing license. In order to obtain a nursing license, which is required by all 50 States and the District of Columbia, students must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass a national licensing examination. Candidates have three different options for educational paths leading to certification as a registered nurse. The first option is obtaining a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing (BSN). BSN programs are offered through colleges and universities and take 4 years to complete,. The second option is an associate degree in nursing (ADN), offered through junior and community colleges, which takes 2 to 3 years to complete. The third option is a 3-year diploma program administered by hospitals.
All three types of programs qualify students to be hired as a registered nurse, but BSNs are becoming more of a requirement for nursing informatics. Many nursing informatics receive additional graduate-level training in computer science, either within a nursing program or through strictly computer-based programs. Nursing informatics can become certified by the American Nursing Informatics Association. Requirements for certification include specific coursework, experience in the field, and continuing education. Click here for schools offering Nursing Informations Certification Programs and to contact their admissions departments for more information.
In 2002, registered nurses, including nursing informatics, held approximately 2.3 million jobs, making the occupation the largest in the healthcare field.
Between 2002 and 2012, the number of nursing informatics is expected to increase faster than the average. Demand will stem from the increased reliance on technology in medical facilities. More new RN jobs are expected to be created than any other occupation, mostly because of the need to replace aging registered nurses as they leave the profession. Factors such as the growing elderly population, general growth of healthcare, rising median age of registered nurses, increased emphasis on preventative treatment, and technological advances will keep registered nurses, including nursing informatics, in high demand.