Career Profile: Nursing Informatics

Job Title(s): Nursing Informatics Specialist or Health Informatics Specialist

What is a Nursing Informatics Specialist?

A nursing informatics specialist is part nurse, part IT professional, part project manager and part change process improvement consultant.

What does a Nursing Informatics Specialist do?

Nursing informatics specialists lead and direct the planning, implementation and administration of information technology systems used in clinical settings (hospitals, clinics and other environments where patients are being treated).  These specialists work closely with the IT department, nurse managers, nurses and others to gather information and insight that s/he will use to design, develop, implement and evaluate appropriate clinical information systems (Clinical information systems are software, databases and/or computer applications used to manage patient, treatment, personnel, inventory and other information needed to deliver effective and efficient patient care).

Nursing Informatics specialists act as project leads on all IT projects that impact clinical departments.  They manage time lines, budgets and vendors, and work with nurse managers and other leaders to train system users.  Nurse informatics specialists also collaborate with managers to ease staff through the transition to new systems or processes, and to identify opportunities for work process improvement.

Nursing informatics specialists are expected to draw upon their own clinical expertise and knowledge of information systems to ensure that all clinical information systems not only work for the patients and staff, but also comply with state and federal regulations.

Who will you work for?

Nursing informatics specialists work in hospitals, medical centers, health care management organizations (HMOs, SCOs), home health care agencies, state medical agencies, nursing colleges, professional staffing firms and consulting firms.

How much does it pay?

Entry level positions pay $40,000 – $60,000 (0-1 year experience, Bachelor’s degree)

Mid-level: $65,000 – $85,000 (2-5 years, Master’s degree)

Management: $80,000 – $120,000 (5-7 years, Master’s degree)

Executive: $120,000+ (10+ years, Master’s degree or PhD)

How do I break in?

There are a few entryways into this career path.

Internships: As with every position we profile, I can’t stress the importance of internships enough.  If you’re a Bachelor’s or Master’s candidate in information technology (IT), computer science or engineering, consider interning at a health care facility or with a health care management organization.

Dual Majors: If you’re a tech-savvy nursing student, consider taking a few IT courses or cross registering in another college within your university.

Education & Experience: At a minimum, a nursing informatics specialist must have a BS in nursing, an allied health profession or health information management and a license from the state Board of Registered Nursing in the state in which you intend to work.  For entry level positions, usually nursing informatics coordinator positions, you’ll need at least 1-2 years of clinical experience (experience treating patients).

For mid-level positions such as Nursing Informatics Specialist or Manager, you’ll need a Master’s degree in nursing, health care information systems, health care management or administration and/or information technology.  At this level employers require an average of 3-5 years of clinical experience.

For higher level positions such as Director or Vice President of Nursing Informatics, employers will require a Master’s degree, and in some cases, a PhD, and an average of 5-7 years of clinical experience.

Most employers will also want to see that you have health care operations, general management, project management and software implementation and administration experience, especially with popular software programs.

Who might love this job?

Anyone who wants to put their IT skills to use helping patients get better care.   And, anyone who is self directed with excellent organizational, analytical, writing, interpersonal and project related skills.

What about this job doesn’t suck?

The nursing informatics role allows a nurse to impact more than his/her department, more than the patients s/he treats directly; nurse informatics specialists can improve the entire hospital, even an entire health care system.

The position allows anyone considering going into nursing, or anyone who was wondering how to leverage their nursing experience without becoming a doctor, to have a greater impact than a single nurse might, without the long and on-call shifts and with considerably less stress.

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More info

Nursing Informatics Certifications & Degree-granting Programs

Health Information and Management Systems Society

American Nursing Informatics Association (ANIA)

Nursing Informatics Online Community

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