Technology and data are important aspects of today's healthcare system, helping to guide care decisions, address problems and develop new ideas. As a result, nursing informatics is a rapidly growing field ideal for nurses with a head for data.
A Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program sometimes includes an introduction to the topic, which is ideal for nurses to gauge their overall interest in the popular specialty.
What Is an Informatics Nurse Specialist?
Often listed as one of the highest paying nursing careers, a nursing informatics specialist is "a registered nurse (RN) who designs, applies and manages technology to meet the needs of the healthcare industry," says a career guide by Indeed. This intersection of nursing, information science and computer science is used to "identify, define, manage and communicate data, information, knowledge and wisdom in nursing practice," according to the American Nurses Association (ANA).
What Does a Nursing Informatics Specialist Do?
Nurse informaticists enjoy a wide variety of job responsibilities. As the full potential of data-driven care is realized, it is likely that the field will grow in scope and day-to-day duties may evolve. In general, nurse informaticists should expect to:
- Collaborate with software developers to create new data processing or collection systems
- Research how nurses use information technology (IT), like electronic medical records (EMRs), and identify ways to improve system access and engagement
- Develop applications and programs that enhance clinical decision-making
- Analyze data to identify trends, such as patient outcomes and interruptions in nursing workflow
- Establish policies and procedures to safeguard data and patient confidentiality
- Install, update and repair health applications and computer systems
- Provide education and training to healthcare staff so they use technology more efficiently
- Remain current on emerging technology by attending conferences and reading industry news
Data guides the work of a nursing informatics specialist. These professionals must determine how to collect data and analyze its accuracy and reliability. According to Nurse.com, nurse informaticists must also evaluate how to:
- ensure data is meaningful
- integrate data into nursing practice
- use data to enhance nursing knowledge
- turn compiled information into predictions about patients and their care
How Do You Become a Nursing Informatics Specialist?
Nursing informatics specialists must have a unique blend of skills — ones that are strongly rooted in science along with clinical and technical know-how. They must be self-starters and ambitious, willing to troubleshoot problems and brainstorm workarounds regularly. Attention to detail is key, as are the abilities to lead projects and communicate clearly across all levels of an organization.
Due to the complexities of the role, nurses interested in informatics typically need a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), at a minimum. Many employers prefer candidates with additional certifications, like a master's degree or the one offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). According to the HIMSS 2020 Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey, as many as 66% of respondents had some type of post-graduate education, with more than one-third having completed a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).
An RN to BSN program is a great starting point for those wishing to pursue a career in informatics. St. Thomas University's online program curriculum includes an informatics course that discusses the components of data collection as well as the ethical and financial implications of emerging healthcare technologies.
Nursing informatics is an exciting career avenue for nurses who love tech and data. A BSN program offers a solid introduction to the field and a pathway to these more lucrative job opportunities. It also lays the groundwork for the pursuit of an MSN in the future.
Learn more about St. Thomas University's RN to BSN online program.
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