As tech takes on a larger role in healthcare, hospitals and other organizations are ramping up their investments in analytics, patient monitoring, workflow improvement, and more. These new technologies, many of which are designed to improve patient care, are also creating specialty jobs in nursing.
Nursing informatics is a growing field that integrates nursing science with information technology to improve communication and information systems for hospitals and large medical facilities. Nursing informatics specialists are also critical to the research, development and implementation of new policies and best practices for the nursing profession.
If you’re a tech-savvy student interested in the healthcare field, or an experienced nurse with a critical eye for improving patient care, then a career in nursing informatics could be the right fit for you.
What does a career in nursing informatics entail?
Nursing informatics specialists are involved in analyzing data and systems that have important applications to the nursing practice. According to the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), nurse informatics specialists help support a hospital’s healthcare leaders by providing them with the knowledge and resources needed to deliver top-notch, patient-centered care.
Some common practice areas for nursing informatics specialists include:
- Designing and testing new information solutions
- Analyzing a hospital’s information systems data to identify and reduce risk of medical errors
- Analyzing work flow needs for hospitals and other patient care facilities, and implementing new processes that will allow those facilities to improve patient care
- Writing healthcare policy that advances public health
- Educating other members of the profession on new research and knowledge to improve their practice.
Many nursing informatics specialists work as a nurse programmer or nurse communicator, acting as a “technology liaison” for the hospital staff, while still performing typical nursing duties.
Why should I consider a career in nursing informatics?
Nursing informatics plays an important role in improving patient care. In a recent Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) survey, 95 percent of respondents viewed health IT as a “strategically critical” tool for the success of any healthcare organization. As a healthcare IT professional, you are a highly valued member of a hospital’s staff.
In addition to playing a vital role in advancing the future of healthcare systems and technology, a career in nursing informatics also offers:
- Diverse career pathways: Nursing informatics specialists can hold a range of different roles across various industries. Some informatics specialists may work as educators or researchers, while others may be chief nursing officers or healthcare policy developers. The field of nursing informatics offers a variety of career path options for nurses who are interested in patient care, public health, pharmacology and global health.
- Career advancement: Nursing informatics also presents many opportunities for registered nurses to take on additional leadership responsibilities. Nurse informatics allows nurses to become more involved with strategic planning and the evaluation of new policies to improve patient care. Often, informatics specialists will pursue more advanced roles, such as nurse manager or Chief Nursing Informatics Officer.
- Job satisfaction: Nursing informatics is a highly rewarding field. Eighty percent of HIMSS survey respondents reported feeling “satisfied” or “highly satisfied” with their career in informatics. Many nurses who choose to pursue a career in informatics welcome the opportunity to ensure the highest level of patient care through a strategic, management-level role.
How much can I make as a nursing informatics specialist?
The average salary for a registered nurse is $70,000 per year, or $33.65 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average salary of a BSN will rank on the upper end of that estimate compared to a nurse with an associate’s degree only. Earning a master’s degree helps qualify you for advanced roles in healthcare administration, leadership and management. The BLS reports Medical Health Services Managers make $113,730 per year ($54.68 per hour) on average, and estimates workers employed in General Medical and Surgical Hospitals specifically earn an average of $122,460 yearly.
How much you make depends on the state you work in, your place of employment, and the relative demand for nursing informatics specialists in your area.
How do I become a nurse informatics specialist?
In order to become an informatics specialist, you must first obtain your registered nursing (RN) license. Most informatics specialists hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN), and some pursue their master’s in nursing (MSN) to gain entry to more advanced roles.
Other nurse informatics specialists might pursue an advanced degree in another field, such as information technology or computer science.
Herzing University offers several degree pathways to help students begin or advance their nursing careers. Students may choose from BSN, RN to BSN and MSN programs, or complete a dual credit program to earn graduate-level credits at the undergraduate level. Additionally, Herzing offers an MBA program in technology management and healthcare management.
Whether you’re a prospective nursing student, just beginning your nursing career, or a looking for your next career move, nursing informatics could be an ideal opportunity for you.