Informatics Nurse Specialist

Business Consultant, Clinical Informatics, Clinical Applications Specialist, Clinical Coordinator   More Names
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Combine nursing knowledge and experience with computer and information science skills to better manage, analyze, and communicate data, information, and knowledge in order to improve nursing practice. Collect, organize, and interpret patient, nursing and other medical data to help make patient care more efficient and of better quality. Provide decision support for use by managers and practitioners in a broad range of healthcare and related settings.

The field of nurse informatics is defined by the International Medical Informatics Association as the "science and practice (that) integrates nursing, its information and knowledge, with management of information and communication technologies to promote the health of people, families, and communities worldwide." Within this career field, nurse informatics specialists may range in training, tasks, and responsibilities from basic to advanced levels.

At a basic, entry-level level, nurse informatics specialists may instruct nurses and other medical staff in how improve patient data and information management systems. They also assist in the design, development, and use of computerized nursing, medical, and related healthcare information enhancements. Entry-level nurse informatics specialists often are experienced registered nurses who are specialized in an area, such as acute or critical care, and who have also acquired a knowledge and skill in the area of information management. Examples of currently emerging and/or expanding occupational areas for entry-level nurse informatics specialists include in Electronic Health Records (EHR) and Health Information Exchanges (HIE).

At an advanced level, nurse informatics specialists - who may be known as nurse informaticians - advice and consult with higher-level managers and practitioners in nursing and medical administration, insurance planning and evaluation, medical research, and public health. They work to advance health care as developers of communication and information technologies, educators, researchers, chief nursing officers, chief information officers, software engineers, implementation consultants, policy developers, and business owners. In addition to bachelor's or graduate degrees in nursing, advanced nurse informatics specialists also may hold one or more degrees in computer science or information technology. No matter what level an individual nurse informatics specialist may work, all in this career field provide information and analysis that is used for decision-making analysis and support by managers and practitioners in clinical healthcare and related settings, such as medical hospitals, insurance companies, research institutions, and public health agencies. This decision support function bridges the range of complexity at which a nurse informatics specialist works from basic to highly-advanced.

Nurse informatics specialists are employed in a broad range of healthcare industry settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, insurance companies, public health agencies, medical consulting firms, schools of nursing, and others. For employers, they compile and organize various kinds of data and other information needed by nurses, medical, and other decision-making staff. They interview nurses and other medical workers to identify technological needs. Some also may work for nursing information technology vendors, showing new products and services to industry clients. In addition, advanced-level nurse information specialists can be found working as college and university teaching faculty and at medical research institutions.

Wherever they work, nurse informatics specialists support the practice of all nursing specialties, from basic to advanced levels. They use their knowledge of computer and information science to develop, implement, and evaluate health information technology applications, tools, and processes to assist nurses with the management of data for taking care of patients or supporting their practice of nursing. They also work to develop and implement data management policies and practices that ensure the privacy, confidentiality, and security of patient information.

Nursing informatics specialists integrate nursing science, computer science, and information science to manage and communicate data, information, and knowledge in nursing practice. They translate and interpret nursing practice information to computer systems and database engineers, analysts, and administrators.

They analyze computer and information science technologies to determine ways to apply these to nursing practice, education, administration, and research. They also search for new ways of introducing, evaluating, or modifying information technology to nursing. They stay current with research literature and participate at professional meetings in both informatics and nursing.

In summary, nurse informatics specialists require not just information system and computer skills in addition to nursing experience and expertise, but also an understanding of complex informatics and taxonomy systems. Especially at an advanced level, they need to understand the "big picture" of how an organization works, and how all the parts of the system relate to provide support. They need to be liaisons and interpreters among different user groups, including patients, nursing and medical teams, information technology staff, and vendors - each of whom may use different terms or speak different "professional" languages.

The overarching goal of the nursing informatics specialist is to improve the health of populations, communities, families, and individuals by maximizing effective and efficient information management and communication. This includes the use of nursing and other medical information and technology in the direct provision of care, in improving administrative systems, in managing and delivering continuing education in support of lifelong learning, and in advancing nursing research.

Nurse informatics specialists are experienced registered nurses with bachelor's or graduate degrees who also have acquired level computer and information science knowledge, and can apply these skills in practical and integrated ways to benefit practicing nurses and other medical staff. As highly-specialized nursing practitioners, they are at the higher end of the overall nursing career pathway. The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) includes on its website an informative health informatics webinar entitled "Designing a Comprehensive Career Ladder for the Future Health IT Workforce." This webinar can be accessed at AMIA - Designing Comprehensive Career Ladder - Webinar.

The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) is the professional scientific association that represents medical, nursing, and related informatics professionals. The AMIA states that it "aims to lead the way in transforming health care through trusted science, education, and the practice of informatics." The AMIA works to connect a broad community of professionals and students interested in informatics, and serve as a bridge for knowledge and collaboration across a continuum, from basic and applied research to the consumer and public health arenas. More about this association is available on its website at AMIA.

Credentials Needed: To practice as a nurse informatics specialist, an individual must be a registered nurse who has an active RN license in a state or territory of the United States or its equivalent from another country. While there is no further state licensing or registration requirement to practice as a nurse informatics specialist, the majority of employers look for a voluntary industry-based certification as an indication of professional attainment and competency.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers a voluntary specialty Informatics Nursing Certification that is highly-valued by employers as a benchmark of competency for this occupation. The ANCC is the credentialing subsidiary of the American Nurses Association (ANA) which is the largest professional organization representing the interests of the nation's registered nurses.

To qualify to take the exam to earn the ANCC Informatics Nursing Certification, an RN must have at least a minimum of a bachelor's degree in nursing or a related field, experience in both nursing and informatics nursing, and at have completed graduate level courses in informatics nursing.

In particular, an individual must meet the following requirements: (1) hold a current RN state license and have practiced at least two years as a registered nurse; (2) have a bachelor's or higher degree in nursing or other relevant field; (3) have at least 30 hours of continuing education in informatics within the past three years; and (4) meet one of following alternative minimum practice requirements. They can either have practiced at least 2,000 hours in informatics nursing within the past three years; or have practiced at least 1,000 hours in informatics nursing and have completed a minimum of 12 hours of graduate level informatics nursing courses; or have completed a graduate level nursing informatics program with a minimum of 200 hours of faculty supervised practice work.

To check what your state may require regarding licensing or other credentials for RNs, use the "Education & Training - Find Programs" link for this career or the following alternative link to state licensing information: About Nursing Schools, Programs, and Degrees.

Some Key Things to Remember: Nursing informatics specialists integrate nursing science, computer science, and information science to better manage and communicate data and information that improves nursing practice. They are experienced registered nurses with bachelor's or graduate degrees who also have acquired high-level computer and information science knowledge. They apply these skills in practical and integrated ways to benefit practicing nurses and other medical staff.

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Job Growth and Wages
Percent Job Growth:  
21% - Much faster than average
Typical Wages (National):  
Annual: $67,460 - $111,040    Hourly: $32 - $53
Physical/Medical/Health Requirements

Speech clarity.

Ability to manually enter data into computer systems and databases.

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Legal Requirements

Career Snapshot

Typical Education:

Bachelor's Degree (High School + 4 or more Years)
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Percent Job Growth:

21% - Much faster than average
Find Jobs

Typical Wages:

Annual: $67,460 - $111,040

Hourly: $32 - $53