The field of nursing and technology cross paths often. The role of a nurse informatics specialist (or “informatics nurse”) merges the art of caring for people and computer science. A nurse informatics specialist manages and communicates data, information and knowledge in the nursing practice.1 This career may attract certain personality types since a specific set of skills and characteristics can be necessary to excel in such a unique field.
Skills and Characteristics
There are some qualities, in particular, that facilitate work as an informatics nurse, including:
- Technologically Proficient - Electronic documentation of patient records and new advancements in information technology (IT) have become invaluable assets to workflow in healthcare settings. It is the responsibility of informatics nurses to effectively synchronize and exchange clinical and technical information with the goal of supporting and coordinating patient care in an efficient workflow.1
- Communicative - Superior communications skills can be important for informatics nurses, as they help others interpret the technology utilized in the health care environment. These nurses design and deliver training regarding technology, so clear and concise instruction is key.1, 2
- Organized – Since patient documentation is so vital, an informatics nurse should be organized in order to analyze and record data in a logical and coherent way. Flow charts are a commonly-used tool in this profession to help assemble information about a patient’s needs, improve information accuracy, and enhance the quality of patient care.1
While these skills may be essential in the informatics nursing field, there are other requirements that an individual must meet to help prepare for performing their duties as a nurse informatics specialist.
Obtaining a degree in nursing from an accredited program is the first step to becoming a registered nurse (RN). An associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a diploma will suffice in some cases, though a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is required by some employers. A bachelor’s program generally requires four years to complete and offers additional education in physical and social sciences, communication, leadership and critical thinking.3
A master’s degree or additional education in nursing informatics may be needed. In a 2017 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) survey, it was reported that over 57% of informatics nurse respondents had a post-graduate degree.4
Licenses and Certifications
After receiving a nursing degree, a prospective nurse must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) given by the National Council Licensure Examination. While every state uses the NCLEX as a standard, policies regarding additional licensing requirements may vary from state to state.3
After obtaining an RN license, applicants can then become certified as a nurse informatics specialist. RNs looking to do so must pass the Informatics Nurse Certification Examination provided by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). This exam assesses individual knowledge and comprehension of informatics and requires that the following criteria be met before testing:5
- A current, active RN license within a U.S. state, territory or the professional, legally recognized equivalent in another country
- A bachelor's degree or higher in nursing or a bachelor's degree in a relevant field
- At least two years of full-time experience working as a registered nurse
- A minimum of 30 completed hours of continuing education in informatics in the last three years
- Meet one of the following practice hour requirements:
- At least 2,000 hours of informatics nursing within the last three years
- A minimum of 1,000 hours in informatics nursing plus at least 12 graduate-level semester hours of academic credit in informatics courses
- Completion of a graduate program in informatics nursing with a minimum 200 practicum hours of informatics nursing under faculty supervision5
Computer systems analysts, which informatics nursing careers can fall under, is projected to grow 21% by 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS forecasts that additional job growth is projected in health care fields, in particular, with increase in use and implementation of electronic health records, e-prescribing, and in other areas of health care IT.6
What to Expect on a Day-to-Day Basis
On a daily basis, informatics nurses can be expected to design, develop, test, implement and evaluate new informatics solutions, data structures and decision-marking support systems to support patients, health care professionals, IT management and technology interactions. The informatics nurse may also analyze and interpret patient, nursing or systems data to improve nursing services. Informatics nurses commonly use computer applications such as learning management systems, database reporting software, and medical records software such as GE Healthcare Centricity EMR.7
Nurse informatics specialists serve to bridge the gap between health care professionals and ever-evolving health care technology. Though it may not be the most traditional of nursing jobs, it can be just as important and rewarding as any other career in nursing.
Pursue Your Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing
The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program at Colorado Technical University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (http://www.ccneaccreditation.org). The goals of CTU’s RN-to-BSN program are to teach students to care for the complex needs of patients across a variety of settings and help students prepare to become leaders in the profession of nursing. Learn more about CTU’s bachelor’s degree in nursing.