Nurse Types / Informatics Nurse
Have you ever been interested in working with computers and technology, and wondered how you could merge that interest with nursing? As the healthcare industry becomes increasingly reliant on technology, the need for qualified healthcare professionals such as informatics nurses continues to grow.
In this article, we’ll help prepare you to start your nursing informatics career and will cover the following topics:
- What is an informatics nurse?
- What do informatics nurses do?
- Where do informatics nurses work?
- What are the specific types of informatics nurses?
- How do you become an informatics nurse in 3 steps?
- What are additional requirements for informatics nurses?
- What are the salary and career outlooks for informatics nurses?
What is an informatics nurse?
An informatics nurse is a registered nurse (RN) who uses their clinical knowledge to help support the use of technology in patient care.
They work with electronic health records (EHRs), computerized physician order entry systems, and other health information technology (IT).
Informatics nurses also train staff on using these systems and troubleshoot any potential problems.
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Qualities of a successful informatics nurse
Informatics nurses bridge the gap between clinicians’ needs and technology’s capabilities. To be successful in this specialty, informatics nurses should have:
- Passion for using technology to improve patient care
- Strong understanding of clinical workflows
- Excellent communication and collaboration skills
- Ability to think critically and solve problems
- Ability to learn new technology quickly
- Ability to manage multiple competing priorities
What do informatics nurses do?
Informatics nurses are responsible for a wide range of duties. They serve as a link between the clinical and technical aspects of healthcare.
Additionally, informatics nurses use their knowledge of patient care, nursing process, and information technology to improve patient outcomes. Informatics nurses also collect data to support evidence-based practice and quality improvement initiatives.
A day in the life of a nurse informaticist
As an informatics nurse, you’ll oversee the health information systems in a hospital or other healthcare setting. You’ll work with physicians, nurses, and other medical staff to ensure that the electronic health records and other health systems function as expected. In addition, you might be responsible for training new staff on how to use the EHR system.
Your day might start with consulting the medical staff for recommendations on clinical updates. Later, you might spend time training new nurses on how to use the system. After that, you may need to meet with the IT department to discuss a new type of medical device that will interface with the EHR.
Later in the day, you may update the systems, adding new features or fixing errors. Finally, you might end your day in a meeting with a quality improvement team to discuss how the EHR can help with a patient safety issue.
Common problems managed by informatics professionals
Informatics nurses work with many other specialties and departments to use the capabilities of health information systems. Because of the numerous aspects of healthcare that are taken into account with clinical informatics, there are many different problems that informatics nurses might manage, including:
- Healthcare technology system design flaws
- Workflow inefficiencies
- Security breaches of patient health information
- Communication issues between various healthcare providers
- Inadequate training on how to use EHRs
- Difficulties integrating new technologies into existing systems
The informatics nurse’s role as a liaison between the clinical and IT worlds puts them in a position to help identify and solve these common problems.
Where do informatics nurses work?
Informatics nurses work in many settings, including hospitals, clinics, physician offices, insurance companies, and nursing homes. They may also work for government agencies or private companies developing or selling health care software or systems.
What are some specific types of informatics nurses?
While the typical informatics nurse is a hospital-based generalist, there are some more specialized types of informatics nurses.
- EHR analysts focus solely on implementing and maintaining electronic health records. This informatics nurse may develop new features for the EHR or troubleshoot broken functionality.
- Data analysts use database programming languages like SQL to extract information from the EHR. The data analyst might create reports used by nurses and providers to improve the quality of patient care.
- Clinical project managers manage the implementation of different clinical initiatives. Clinical project managers may work with other informatics nurses, vendors, and department managers to improve clinical processes.
Closely related job titles
Informatics nurses fall under the umbrella of nursing administration. Other nursing administration fields that may perform duties similar to informatics nurses include:
- Quality improvement nurses
- Infection control nurses
- Case managers
- Nurse educators
- Clinical documentation specialist
- Public health nursing
How do you become an informatics nurse in 3 steps?
Step 1: Become a registered nurse
The first and most critical step to becoming an informatics nurse is to become a registered nurse. While some informatics positions don’t require an RN credential, certified informatics nurses must hold an active RN license.
To become a registered nurse, you’ll need to earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).
Earn a BSN degree
According to a recent American Association of Colleges of Nursing survey, nurses with a bachelor’s degree are more competitive in the job market than their associate degree counterparts.
Your educational background and experience will help determine the right BSN program for you.
Pass the NCLEX-RN exam
Step 2: Accumulate experience
Since nursing informatics specialists rely on extensive clinical nursing experience and decision-making, it can be difficult for new graduate nurses to get their foot in the door in this specialty. Most nurses have several years of nursing experience before entering this field.
Helpful skills and experience
Being a nurse informaticist is not an entry-level position. So, a great start is to have a strong foundation in nursing. Having experience in various nursing specialties to better understand the workflow variations in different clinical areas will be beneficial.
It’s also helpful to have experience working with electronic health records and other health information technology. One of the best ways to get exposure to health IT is to volunteer as a trainer for new technologies and devices in your clinical area.
Changing specialty to informatics nursing
If you’re looking to change specialties to nursing informatics, it’s helpful to have a strong knowledge of your current specialty and an idea of how informatics might apply.
For example, if you’re a med-surg nurse, you may already be familiar with problems like patient falls and catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs). You might consider working with an informatics nurse to create a project to reduce CAUTIs on your unit.
Another option might be to reach out to informatics nurses in your hospital to shadow them and learn more about their job. Being visible and showing an interest in the specialty is one of the best ways to pave the way to a career in informatics.
Step 3: Obtain certifications
Certifications can really help you establish experience in the specialty you want. The principal certification for informatics nurses is the Informatics Nursing Certification (RN-BC) offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). The informatics certification requires the following for BSN nurses:
- 2 years of full-time experience as an RN
- 30 hours of informatics continuing education (CE) in the past 3 years
- 2,000 hours of informatics nursing experience in the last 3 years
The RN-BC certification requires informatics experience. So, it’s not realistic to pursue it before getting an informatics nurse job. However, other certifications can help you land that first job, including:
- Certified Associate in Healthcare Information and Management Systems
- Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality
- Certified Associate in Project Management
What are additional requirements for informatics nurses?
To be an informatics nurse, you’ll need to be comfortable with a wide range of technologies, including computers, software applications, and medical devices. You’ll also need strong problem-solving skills and the ability to think critically.
As with any nursing specialty, excellent communication skills are essential. Informatics nurses must communicate effectively with physicians, pharmacists, and other healthcare team members. They also need to be able to educate others on the use of new technologies and workflows.
Finally, you must have a strong foundation in nursing theory and principles. Without a robust understanding of clinical roles and workflows, it can be difficult to effectively design and implement new technologies for clinicians.
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Informatics nurse salary FAQs
The career outlook for informatics nurses is excellent. The demand for qualified informatics nurses continues to grow as healthcare organizations increasingly adopt new technologies. Health informatics positions will see a 7% increase through 2028, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
The salary for informatics nurses varies depending on experience, education, and location. According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for an RN with an informatics specialty is about $101,000 per year. Nurses with a master’s degree and a certification in nursing informatics can earn even more.
Like any nursing specialty, informatics nursing can be challenging. While you may not be taking care of patients directly, you’ll be responsible for decisions that impact your entire healthcare system. This level of responsibility can be a lot of pressure, especially when juggling the competing needs of physicians, nurses, and management.
Despite its challenges, a career in informatics can be very gratifying. According to a 2020 survey by HIMSS, about 75% of informatics nurses report high levels of job satisfaction, as they can use their skills and knowledge to make a difference in patients’ lives.
Once you’ve secured your first informatics nurse job, you can advance your career by pursuing continuing education, getting certified, and networking.
Continuing education is vital for all nurses, but it is especially crucial for informatics nurses. As new technologies emerge, you’ll need to stay up-to-date on the latest changes. One way to do this is by taking informatics-specific CE courses.
In addition to continuing your education, you can also advance your informatics career by earning certifications. Aside from the certifications mentioned earlier, HIMSS offers the Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS). To achieve this certification, nurses must have 5 years of experience working in informatics.
Networking is another important way for nurses to advance their careers. You can network with informatics nurses by joining professional organizations like HIMSS or attending conferences and events. Connecting with other informatics nurses can help you stay up-to-date on the latest changes in the field and learn about new job opportunities.
If you’re interested in a career in informatics nursing, take a look at our nursing career resources to help you plan your next move. With the right education and training, you can become an in-demand informatics nurse and make a difference in patients’ lives.
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