What is Nursing Informatics and What Jobs Can I Get?

Nurses know that more data and better information leads to better health outcomes for their patients, and in today’s health care landscape, we have more sources of information than ever before as medical records and patient data are digitized. As this quantity of data increases, so does the need for qualified informaticists with the ability to interpret the numbers and help health care providers make better decisions. So, if you’re a nurse who’s looking to integrate your passion for patient care with a talent for data and analytics, look no further than a career in nursing informatics.

What exactly is “nursing informatics?” Despite the role being indispensable to nearly every major health care system, informatics remains an “invisible health hero” to most people outside of the industry.

The Health Care Information and Management System Society (HIMSS) defines nursing informatics as “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. Nursing Informatics supports nurses, consumers, patients, the inter-professional 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.”

A nurse informaticist acts as a liaison between the technical and clinical aspects of a project or a problem to improve processes, decision making, and health outcomes as well as reduce errors, costs, and care delays. For example, a nurse informaticist may be asked to examine data to identify possible sources of patient readmissions (ie. lack of support at home, difficulty in understanding written care instructions, or a hazardous job) and then work with a hospital’s IT department to develop technological processes that flag those factors to health care providers helping them deal with possible issues before they result in additional trips to the hospital.

Nurse informaticists most often work in hospitals or other health care facilities but are increasingly being employed by consulting firms, universities, corporations, and the government. Job titles often reflect the blending of health care with information technology and career paths could include:
•             Clinical Systems Analyst

  • Database Specialist
  • Electronic Heath Records (EHR) Informatics Liaison
  • Clinical Informatics Nurse
  • Clinical Informatics or Applications Specialist
  • Pharmacy or Nutrition Informaticist
  • Chief Medical Information Officer
  • Health Data Scientist or Researcher
  • Professor of Informatics
  • Health Information Technology (IT) Project Manager

To break into this fast-growing career, you’ll need to start as a registered nurse. And because of the specializations of the field, informaticist positions usually require higher levels of education. The HIMSS 2017 Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey reported that 57 percent of respondents currently working in the field have a post-graduate degree and 41 percent reported that they planned to pursue additional informatics education and training within the next year.

Nursing informatics is a rewarding and complex job but you can expect a higher than average salary in return. The HIMSS 2017 Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey asked respondents to identify their base salary as of December 1, 2016. Twenty-five percent of respondents’ salary ranged from $86,000 to $100,000 while 24 percent ranged from $61,000 to $85,000. Nearly half of respondents indicated a salary of over $100,000. There were increases from the 2014 survey for each salary range over $100,000.

The most successful candidates will need strong project management, analytical, and problem solving skills as well as a talent for critical thinking and creativity. Think you have what it takes for a career in informatics?  Check out Excelsior’s MS program in Nursing Informatics today.