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What Is Nursing Informatics?

Nursing Informatics is a specialized area of nursing and branch of the profession that is seeing much growth. This blog post’s purpose is to be an elementary introduction to this burgeoning specialty.

What is the Nursing Informatics Specialty?

According to the American Nursing Association, “Nursing informatics (NI) 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. This support is accomplished through the use of information structures, information processes, and information technology” (ANA, 2015)

What a Nursing Informatics Professional Does

Squarely focused on information, data, and communication, a nurse informatics career looks closely at how to use numbers to boost performance, both for patients and for an organization as a whole. This role’s goals are to “boost efficiency, cut costs, and boost patient care quality” (Nurse Journal, 2019). Nursing professionals within this specialty are positioned at the intersection of nursing science, computer science, and information science, where they are able to “better manage and communicate information, data and knowledge in the practice of nursing. Nursing informatics specialists facilitate data integration, information and knowledge so that they provide better support to patients, nurses and other health care providers” (Nurse Journal, 2019). One thing on which they spend a lot of their energy is documentation, because “high quality care is fully dependent upon strong communication among the wide variety of health care providers. As health care providers communicate via notes on a chart, a nurse informatics analyst wants to increase the speed and accuracy of the charting process. This means that health care workers have better access to patient notes, and can mean better decisions about care” (Nurse Journal, 2019).

Where Nurse Informatics Professionals Work

Typical employers for nursing informatics employees include facilities across the care continuum, from hospitals to medical practices, as well as a wide range of consulting firms, universities, and corporations. Job titles that match this professional competency include:

  • Clinical analyst

  • Informatics nurse specialist

  • Director – clinical informatics

  • Clinical informatics coordinator (Nurse Journal, 2019).

 

Nurse Informatics Job Opportunities & Salary Outlook

The demand for nursing informatics isn’t going to abate any time soon. Not only will the aging U.S. population require more caregivers, but we’ll need all the help we can get to control healthcare costs. That’ll require a growing number of nursing informatics analysts. Nurse Journal cites an American Medical Informatics Association finding that as many as 70,000 nursing informatics specialists or analysts may be needed in the next five years, with the surge in related to data gathering and analysis required by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) of 2009 and the Patient Protection and Accountable Care Act (PPACA) of 2008.

The Career Path for Nursing Informatics Professionals

A typical route to becoming a nursing informatics expert starts with being a registered nurse. After a BSN, many get a master’s degree, either as a master of science in nursing (MSN) or a master’s in information or computer science. Nurse Journal advises those considering this direction that the “career is demanding in terms of project management, critical thinking and creativity. It is important to be able to work with a vast variety of people. You also must have skills to resolve demands that conflict, which can happen as you develop information systems to meet everyone’s needs” (Nurse Journal, 2019).

References

ANA, “Nursing Informatics: Scope and Standards of Practice,” 2nd Edition, ANA 2015 as quoted at https://www.himss.org/what-nursing-informatics.

Nurse Journal, “Nursing Informatics Career & Salary,” (2019), Retrieved at https://nursejournal.org/nursing-informatics/nursing-informatics-career-outlook/.

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