Nursing Informatics: Helping Solve Nursing Problems
Every specialty in nursing practice brings its own set of problems and solutions. Some problems are specific to certain fields of practice, while others are common to nursing as a whole. No matter your specialty, if you’re a practicing nurse then you’ve probably run into the following three problems at some time or another in your career. If you’re studying to qualify for positions as a nurse, you’ve likely heard these problems discussed in the classroom.
1. Too Busy to Focus on Patient Care
“I’d love to spend more time actually providing direct patient care,” says Rob, an RN with 6 years experience in a Rhode Island geriatric clinic. “The problem is that a lot of my time is taken up with busywork—documenting patient’s care, accessing files and transferring records to other clinics.” Robert is voicing a frustration many nurses encounter: one 2006 study showed that documenting care can take up to nearly 30% of a nurse’s time.
2. Limited Access to Evidence-Based Knowledge
Emily is a Connecticut-based nurse educator who specializes in cancer treatment research. “It’s extremely common for me to have to wait several weeks before receiving the results from individual treatment plans,” she says. “If I had immediate access to the effects of certain drugs on patients, I’d be able to…incorporate the knowledge into my lesson plans, helping the new generation of nurses to get out there with a full deck of cards, so to speak.”
3. Incomplete Understanding of Patient Health History
Electronic health records are supposed to be adopted across the board by 2014, but many clinics are still far away from this goal. Aaron, the director of an emergency clinic in rural Alabama, states that it’s not uncommon for out-of-town patients to be treated without full understanding of their medical history, including what medications they’re allergic to. “It’s obviously not ideal,” he admits, “but in an emergency situation it’s simply impossible to wait for a fax or a phone call.”
As you can imagine, these problems affect every branch of nursing. They add to nurses’ workloads, increase the probability of mistakes, and have a direct impact on the quality of patient care.
Nursing Informatics to the Rescue
The multi-disciplinary field of nursing informatics offers a solution to these three problems. Nursing informatics is a marriage of nursing science, computer science and information science, with the overarching goal of improving patient care. It integrates data, information and knowledge to help nurses make well-informed decisions in all circumstances.
Although a key imperative of nursing informatics is the construction and maintenance of systems that support the sharing of information, the importance goes far beyond the use of technology. Technology is pointless if it is misused or not taken advantage of. In addition to developing a technological framework for nursing communities across the nation, nursing informatics highlights the ongoing education and training of nurses in order to use technology appropriately.
Betty Nelson, PhD, RN, a registered nurse with more than 30 years experience as a clinician, administrator and educator, and an adjunct professor in Health Sciences and Nursing at American Sentinel University pointed out that Health Information Technology (Informatics) means different things to nurses depending on their role.
- Clinician: you will most likely be documenting in an electronic record.
- Manager: you will most likely be responsible for your staff’s accurate and timely documentation in an electronic record.
- Academic Educator: you will most likely be facing curriculum redesign to help student nurses gain skills in basic computer literacy and are oriented to your clinical site’s electronic records.
- Post-Academic Educator: you will most likely be responsible for staff education EM/HR education programs and competencies.
- If your role relies on access to patient care data for analysis and trending, such as Quality Improvement Specialists, Case Managers, Risk Managers and Nurse Researchers, you do or will have a more efficient and functional data set available.
- Nurse Informaticist: you will most likely be in a job that has good demand.
Becoming an Informatics Nurse
Some of the important aptitudes an informatics nurse develops and uses include literacy, communication, research, and computer skills. If you are have little training in those areas, but are interested in helping to solve the problems mentioned above, don’t despair. These skills are highly teachable and adoptable. Many experienced nurses have returned to school to successfully master the skills needed to be confident when applying for jobs as an informatics nurse.
“I didn’t even know how to use email five years ago,” jokes Sandra, a project manager who recently received her degree in nursing informatics from an online program. “Now I work with a team of medical software developers to improve the way our hospital handles patient records. It’s nice to feel that I’m making a difference to health care in a ‘big picture’ kind of way.”
Nurse Informaticists can be employed in hospitals and health systems, insurance companies, health information technology companies and consulting firms. Because this is a rapidly expanding field with widespread benefits, there is huge potential to blaze your own trail and make a real contribution to health care. Why not take the first step today?
Do you aspire to fulfill an evolving healthcare role as a highly-qualified nursing professional? Apply to GCU!
- Doctor of Nursing Practice with an Emphasis in Educational Leadership
- M.S. in Nursing with an Emphasis in Leadership in Health Care Systems (Bridge)
- Doctor of Nursing Practice
Unitek College – About Us
Unitek College™ is a privately held vocational school dedicated to helping you gain the skills needed to advance your career or begin a brand new career.
- Northcentral University was founded in 1996 to provide working professionals around the world with unprecedented access to richly engaging, professionally relevant, and academically-rigorous education from a U.S. university.
- San Diego
- San Diego
100% Online & No Standardized Testing
- Master of Science in Nursing: Nursing Administration
- Master of Science in Nursing: Nurse Educator
- BS in Nursing (RN to BSN)
Established in 1897, Bradley University is a private, independent institution of higher learning in Peoria, Illinois. Inspired by our founder, notable philanthropist Lydia Moss Bradley, we pursue excellence in teaching, research, scholarship and service; and we celebrate leadership, integrity, diversity and collaborative learning.
- Online Doctor of Nursing Practice - Leadership Track (MSN to DNP)
- Online Master of Science in Nursing (BSN to MSN-FNP)
- Online Doctor of Nursing Practice - Family Nurse Practitioner Track (BSN to DNP)
Founded in 1887, Benedictine University is dedicated to the education of undergraduate and graduate students. Benedictine is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
Designed with the needs of working adult students in mind, South University, Online Programs is built on the similar curriculum offered at South University's campus locations. As a student at South University, Online Programs you will receive the same quality instruction, variety of learning options and level of service found at the campus locations.
- Nursing (RN to BSN)
- RN to Master of Science in Nursing with a specialization in Family Nurse Practitioner (RN-MSN)
- Post Graduate Certificate in Nursing with a specialization in Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner