How to Choose a Nursing Informatics Degree

This article has information about nursing informatics degrees and how you can choose a good one for your career. We also provide helpful information about quality nursing informatics degrees that are worth your consideration.

What Is a Nursing Informatics Degree?

To understand what this type of nursing degree is, it is important to have a background on nursing informatics.

As technology is changing healthcare, it is having a major impact on nursing. Federal laws now mandate that healthcare providers use electronic health and medical records. Nurses who study informatics have the skills and knowledge to effectively oversee the integration of data, information and knowledge to support more effective and affordable decision making in a healthcare environment.

A nursing informatics degree provides you with the technical skills and knowledge to improve the level of care at all types of healthcare facilities. It is usually a graduate degree that combines nursing science with skills allowing you to manage, analyze, and communicate knowledge that will improve patient outcomes and reduce costs.

A nursing informatics degree teaches you methods to integrate nursing science, computer science and information science in your regular nursing practice. Nursing informatics professionals are highly skilled in facilitating data integration, knowledge and information that leads to better patient support.

Why Earn a Nursing Informatics Degree?

The field of nursing informatics is growing quickly, and salaries are on the rise. Data from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) states that salaries for nursing healthcare informatics professionals rose more than 40% in seven years to $98,700.

The same data also found that just 9% of hospitals were using electronic health records in 2008. By 2013, more than 80% were using EHRs at least partially. Joyce Sensmeier, RN-BC, MS, CPHIMS, FHIMSS, FAAN, vice president of informatics for HIMSS, added in a recent interview that demand for nursing informatics professionals is greater than the supply.

This is because EHRs have become the standard, and hospitals need to use them to continue to do business.

Positions Available in Many Settings

The majority of nursing informatics professionals get jobs in healthcare facilities that are related to their nursing background, as well as their skills in organization and informatics. Some positions will be more focused on the technical development and evaluation of systems. Others in expert or liaison roles will be focused more on needs assessment, selecting systems or even marketing and education.

In a healthcare setting, nurses in informatics usually fill positions in the IT department, or in a liaison position in a nursing department.

Strong Demand

More generally, healthcare employment is skyrocketing as the population is getting older and living longer. Technology is leading to major advancements in healthcare treatments that are making people live longer and more actively.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS states that healthcare employment is going to increase by 19% by 2024. This is a very rapid rate of growth, with at least 2.3 million total jobs being added.

Many of the new jobs are going to be in the nursing field; BLS reports that registered nurses will experience 16% more demand by 2024. Much of the demand will be in outpatient services where patients are not staying overnight. Many healthcare treatments that were in a hospital decades ago are now done on an outpatient basis.

Advanced practice nurses such as nurse practitioners also will see very rapid increases in job demand, in the range of 35%. We anticipate that the demand for nursing informatics professionals with a master’s degree will see demand increase in the 20% range.

The American Medical Informatics Association or AMIA reported in 2012 that employers were seeing a shortage of more than 70,000 nursing informatics professionals. The field of health informatics also has been named recently as a top career in the US, according to US News and World Report.

Great Pay

The median pay for nurses generally is also solid, with a median salary for RNs at $68,450, and the top 10% earning at least $102,000 per year. Also, the HIMSS 2014 Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey states that the median salary in the nursing informatics field is $93,000.

Online Degree Options

Most paths into nursing informatics involve earning a master’s degree in nursing informatics. Most professionals entering this field have nursing experience and usually have a bachelor’s degree in nursing, as well as at least a few years of work experience.

An excellent, online choice is the Master of Science in Nursing Informatics offered by the University of Maryland School of Nursing. This program currently is ranked #1 in the nation by US News and World Report for 2018.

This degree may be earned entirely online and will prepare you to improve patient care and outcomes by developing, implementing and evaluating information technology in your healthcare workplace.

Graduates of this two year, accredited program will have the skills to do the following:

  • Analyze nursing data and information requirements
  • Design effective patient care system alternatives
  • Effectively manage IT needs in the nursing department
  • Identify and implement the best user training strategies
  • Evaluate how effective clinical and management informations are in your healthcare facility

You also will receive training to be a nursing department leader to conceptualize, design and research IT systems in health care settings and generally in an informatics setting.

Your required courses include these:

  • Health Promotion and Population Health
  • Health Systems & Health Policy: Leadership & Quality Improvement
  • Methods for Research and Evidence Based Practice
  • Biostatistics for Evidence-based Practice
  • Technology Solutions for Generating Knowledge in Health Care
  • Systems Analysis and Design Spring
  • Information Technology Project Management
  • Healthcare Database Systems Spring
  • Nursing Informatics Concepts and Practice in Systems Adoption
  • Practicum in Nursing Informatics

Accreditation

Professionals who want to earn a nursing informatics master’s degree online should check to determine if their program is accredited. Program accreditation by a respected accreditation in the field is important to ensure you and employers that the degree you are earning is of sufficient quality.

One of the key accreditation agencies in the medical and nursing informatics field is the American Medical Informatics Association or AMAI. We recommend that you look for this accreditation when you are considering a nursing informatics degree.

Summary

The nursing field is growing very quickly in the United States as the population is growing older and living longer. As technology improves and healthcare facilities expand, there will be much greater need for many types of nursing professionals.

This is surely the case with nursing informatics, too. The large amounts of data that are being produced in growing healthcare facilities can be mined to determine ways to improve outcomes and increase efficiency. The federal mandate to switch health care organizations to electronic health records also is causing fast growth in this field.

High demand in nursing informatics leads to high salaries, thus a nursing informatics master’s is a solid choice.

References

  • Registered Nurses. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm
  • University of Maryland. Nursing Informatics. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nursing.umaryland.edu/academics/grad/specialties/ni/
  • University of South Florida. Nursing Informatics Specialist Job Description. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.usfhealthonline.com/resources/career/nursing-informatics-specialist-job-description-salary/

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