In publishing the results of the 2011 HIMSS Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) revealed that 35 percent of respondents held an MSN, one percent held a PhD in nursing, 24 percent held a master’s degree in a field other than nursing, while three percent held a PhD in a field other than nursing. The survey also revealed that the percentage of nurse informaticists who held a master’s or doctoral degree increased from 52 percent in 2007 to 56 percent in 2011.
As evidence-based practice has resulted in protocols that improve patient outcomes and bring a greater level of consistency to the delivery of care, immediate accessibility to the information vital to point-of-care decision-making has become an imperative. It is nursing informaticists who help facilitate the very evidence-based protocols that improve safety and patient outcomes by integrating nursing practice with the effective management, organization, and communication of information.
Nursing Informatics Educational Requirements
Nursing informatics is being incorporated into clinical nursing preparation programs at all levels. There are a number of Bachelor of Science programs in health administration and health information systems that prepare students for an advanced education in informatics. It is through undergraduate programs that students obtain the basic body of knowledge for health informatics from courses that cover finance, accounting, legal and ethical parameters, health and disease factors, and human and information resources.
Programs offered at the graduate level dedicated exclusively to nursing informatics seek to develop competencies that support the many responsibilities of an informaticist:
- Communicating and coordinating care with all members of a healthcare team
- Coordinating discharge and transitions of care
- Analyzing clinical and financial data
- Enhancing continuity of care
- Improving communication between healthcare providers and patients
- Ensuring productivity goals are met
- Establishing cost-saving initiatives
- Writing requests for proposals and/or returns on investment
- Developing educational programs
- Writing policies
- Assisting in the design of a healthcare system’s intranet
- Collaborating with chief nurse officers and chief executive officers regarding a preferred clinical system
Colleges and universities are more often offering advanced degrees in nursing informatics, some of which include:
- M.S. in Nursing BSN Track – Informatics Specialization
- M.S. in Nursing, Nursing Informatics Specialization
- M.S. in Nursing, Health Systems Management Specialization
- Graduate Certificate of Professional Studies in Public Health Informatics
- Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Information Systems
Graduate programs in nursing informatics prepare students for the multi-faceted role of nurse informaticists by including clinical, didactic, research, and administrative components. Programs focus on healthcare data, information and computer literacy, management competencies, and evidence-based research. Most graduate programs are designed to prepare students for the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Informatics Nursing certification exam, and therefore often include the practice hours required for certification eligibility. Some of the common courses found in graduate-level nursing informatics programs include:
- Systems Life Cycle
- Concepts of Healthcare Informatics
- Data Management and Design
- Financial Management in Healthcare
- Health Information Systems
- Information Systems Risk Management
National Certification in Nurse Informatics
The American Nursing Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers an Informatics Nurse Certification (RN-BC). The exam covers the following topics:
- Basic IT
- Information and Knowledge Management
- System Development
- NI Models, Theories and Professional Practice
To qualify for the Nursing Informatics Certificate, applicants must meet the following requirements:
- Current, active RN license within the United States or one of its territories, or hold a legally recognized equivalent from another country
- Bachelor’s degree or higher in nursing or a bachelor’s degree in a related field
- Must have practiced for at least 2 full years as a full-time RN
- Must have completed at least 30 hours of continuing education in informatics within the last 3 years
In addition, applicants must meet one of the following practice hour requirements:
- Must have practiced at least 2,000 hours in informatics nursing within the three years prior to applying
- Must have practiced at least 1,000 hours in informatics nursing within the three years prior to applying and must have completed at least 12 semester hours of academic credit in informatics courses that are part of a graduate-level informatics nursing program
- Must have completed a graduate-level program in nursing informatics, which must contain at least 200 hours of faculty-supervised practicum in informatics
The Nursing Informatics certification is renewed every 5 years provided specific professional development requirements are met.
The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) offers the Certified Professional Certification in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS) for IT professionals in healthcare informatics practice. Nearly 70 percent of all professionals who hold a CPHIMS certification are RNs.
The CPHIMS examination covers the following areas:
- Healthcare Environment
- Technology Environment
- Selection, Implementation, Support and Maintenance
- Testing and Evaluation
- Privacy and Security
- Administration Leadership
- Administration Management
In order to be eligible for the CPHIMS examination, applicants must meet one of the following requirements:
- Hold a bachelor’s degree and possess at least 5 years experience in associated information and managements systems (3 of those years must be in healthcare)
- Hold a graduate degree and possess at least 3 years experience in associated information and management systems experience (2 of those years must be in healthcare)
CPHIMS Certification is renewed every 3 years, and professionals must complete at least 45 contact hours of continuing education to be eligible for renewal.
Nursing Informatics Resources
Alliance for Nursing Informatics was formed to advance the practice of nursing informatics, as well as informatics related education, policy, and research. The Alliance for Nursing Informatics represents nursing informatics groups on the local, regional, national and international levels.
American Medical Informatics Association is comprised of more than 4,000 healthcare professionals, including clinicians, scientists, researchers, educators, students, and other professionals. The AMIA is an authoritative source for the informatics community and healthcare industry.
The mission of the American Nursing Informatics Association is to advance nursing informatics in practice by supporting education, policy developments, and research through nursing informatics organizations.
Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) is a non-for-profit organization that provides global leadership in information technology and management systems for the betterment of healthcare. It supports best practices and public policy through professional development and research initiatives.
The International Medical Informatics Association acts as a bridging organization that helps bring policy makers and the health-focused community together. The IMIA’s role is to bring together scientists, researchers, users, vendors, developers, consultants and suppliers.
Nursing Informatics Salary Expectations
The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), in their 2011 HIMSS Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey, found that the average salary among respondents was $98,702. This shows a dramatic increase over survey results from previous years: $83,675 in 2007 and $69,500 in 2004. The average salary in 2011 represents a 16 percent increase since 2007 and a 42 percent increase since 2004.
According to the HIMSS survey, nurse informaticists with supervisory responsibilities earned an average of $110,959 in 2011. The survey went on to reveal that respondents who held certification earned much higher salaries than those who did not: $119,664 versus $93,787.