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Nursing Informatics Degree Programs

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Nursing informatics is the integration of clinical nursing and health care information technology (IT). Nurses working in informatics bridge the gap between clinical care and technology.

To become a nursing informatics professional, you typically must be a registered nurse (RN). RNs who earn certificates in nursing informatics could qualify for informatics nursing positions. To be considered for informatics nurse specialists positions, you will need to earn a master's or doctoral degree.

Nursing Informatics Degree Programs

To enter the field of nursing informatics, you must be an RN who has completed an accredited registered nursing degree program. You should consider nursing informatics schools only if you have an aptitude for and interest in technology, as technology will generally be the heart of your new career if you pursue this path.

Certificate Programs

Certificates in nursing informatics vary in structure, with programs typically requiring the completion of nine to 12 credits, which can often be completed online. While courses vary, programs typically include instruction in the following topics:

  • Nursing Informatics Basics
  • Clinical Information Systems
  • Consumer Health Informatics
  • Nursing Informatics Applications

Master's Degree Programs

Individuals can also earn a Master's of Science (MSN) in Nursing Informatics or in Nursing with an Informatics Specialty. Programs can usually be completed in two years of full-time study, but the wide availability of online programs makes part-time study popular among working nurses.

Graduate-level nursing informatics degrees should include the following topics:

  • Nursing Informatics Concepts
  • Principles of Information Systems
  • Nursing Research
  • Health Professional Statistics
  • Clinical and Nursing Information Systems Assessment and Analysis
  • Population-based Approaches to Health Care

Certification and Licensure

By achieving certification in informatics nursing, you can demonstrate extensive training and expertise in the field. Many higher-level nursing informatics positions, such as informatic nurse specialists, require certification. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) outlines the following as requirements to sit for the informatics nursing certification exam:

  • Be a licensed RN
  • Hold a bachelor's degree or higher in nursing or related field
  • Have two years of experience as a full-time RN
  • Have completed 30 hours of continuing education in informatics nursing within the past three years

In addition, you must meet practice hour requirements of up to 2,000 hours. The specific hours required depends on whether you have completed graduate-level coursework.

Career Opportunities

According to the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, informatics has been a specialty in the nursing field since the 1970s. The recent surge in the field is attributed to the industry-wide transition to electronic medical records, bolstered by President Obama's mandate that all health care records be on electronic files by the year 2014.

Professions in nursing informatics include:

  • Informatics Nurse Specialist -- Uses their clinical and technical expertise to develop and oversee health information technology applications in hospitals and other large medical centers. According to O*NET, the national median 2012 salary was $79,680.
  • Nursing IT Manager -- Manages IT functions involving nurses. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical and health service managers earned a national median salary of $88,580 in May 2012.
  • Health Care Information Systems Manager -- Manages health care IT in large medical facilities. The May 2012 national median salary was $120,950 for computer and information systems managers, according to the BLS.
  • Nursing IT Trainer/Educator -- Teaches nurses how to use health care IT systems in hospitals and other larger medical centers. In 2012, the national median salary for nursing instructors was $64,850, states the BLS.

By pursuing a career in nursing informatics, you could be at the forefront of the changes that may soon restructure the medical field.

Sources:

American Nurses Credentialing Center: Informatics Nursing Certification Eligibility Criteria
Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages: Computer and Information Systems Managers
Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages: Medical and Health Service Managers
Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages: Nursing Instructors and Teachers
Duke University: School of Nursing: Informatics Specialty
Indiana University: School of Nursing: Nursing Informatics Professional Certificate Program
Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association: The Evolution of Definitions for Nursing Informatics
NYU: College of Nursing: Master of Science Program in Nursing Informatics
O*Net Online: Informatics Nurse Specialists
Penn State Online: Undergraduate Certificate in Nursing Informatics
University of Maryland: School of Nursing: Careers in Nursing Informatics
University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey: School of Nursing: Nursing Informatics MSN Program


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