Nursing informatics, which is considered a nursing specialty, can be defined as “the application of computer technology to all fields of nursing—nursing service, nurse education, and nursing research.” While definitions vary, many of them are centered around the intersection of information technology, computer science, data analytics, analytical science, and nursing science.
If you’re interested in learning more about nursing informatics, this blog post has you covered. We’ll explore what informatics nursing is, what steps to take to become an informatics nurse, including informatics nursing programs, and more.
A Focus on Informatics: Becoming an Informatics Nurse
If you’re interested in becoming an informatics nurse, the first step is to become a registered nurse (RN). Registered nurses wishing to specialize in informatics need the Registered Nurse-Board Certified (RN-BC) credential. This credential is obtained through a competency-based examination offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). The Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification accredits the RN-BC credential, which is valid for five years.
Please note that the ANCC has delayed the new Informatics Nursing certification eligibility criteria and exam (initially intended to be released in December 2022). Currently, the new eligibility criteria and exam are projected to be released in June 2023. You can find the latest information on nursing informatics credentials on the ANCC’s website.
While it’s optional, you may consider pursuing a master’s degree in informatics to expand your knowledge and skillset in health information, data management, statistical methods, data analysis, and more. These advanced nursing informatics programs can help you tap into informatics leadership positions in healthcare and higher-paying nursing informatics jobs.
As a starting point, you can delve into the work of the American Nursing Informatics Association (ANIA), an association of professional nurses and associates who promote a community of innovative informatics professions and use informatics to “advocate for the elimination of health disparities to improve the health of all populations.” With chapters in several states, membership is open to all nurses and other professionals who support ANIA’s mission.
The ANIA publishes the Journal of Informatics Nursing, a quarterly digital journal published for members, which accepts articles from seasoned authors as well as beginners who want to share news, features, and other pieces related to informatics. In addition, the ANIA also offers a nursing informatics certification review course.
Data Management in Nursing: Behind-the-Scenes as an Informatics Nurse
In an interview with Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), Danielle Siarri, MSN, RN, said, “Nursing informatics specialists are the translators that have evolved into health tech innovators who establish businesses, manage medical economics, create technology and amplify the voice of end-user clinicians.”
According to Siarri, informatics nursing has helped merge health with tech to better support patients. “Healthcare and technology were separate entities that have now fused into one language which evolves daily,” she said.
On Reddit, when one nurse called an informatics nurse a “glorified IT person,” an informatics nurse stepped in and said it downplayed the role of informatics nurses, sharing their experiences as an informatics nurse at a hospital:
“My small-mid sized hospital employs over six informatics analysts including myself. Three of us are nurses. We [spend most of our time on] EHR design, testing, implementation, upgrading, improvement and we occasionally get to influence patient care workflows.” – CultureNurse, Reddit
Nursing Informatics Application in Patient Care | Electronic Health Records and Nursing
Studies show how nurses use informatics to retrieve patient demographic data, document patient care, and use computer technology to improve nursing care. Electronic health records, which play an integral part in documenting patient information and care, are just one tool that informatics nurses rely on.
Lindsay Potvin is a registered nurse who works in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). She shared her experience working with an informatics expert at the hospital where she works and how they support patient safety:
“Let’s say that a patient has a pressure ulcer, we’ll get a best practice advisory, just to look up what the suggestions are… What care plans should we be charting on? What education should we be doing for the patient and for the family?
Those are all our best practice advisories and it’s all just for patient safety. That’s what I realize is so important for healthcare informatics—they really help us push that patient safety going forward. Making sure that we’re meeting that criteria and that we don’t get cited is huge, too. Why would we want to get cited for something we can make changes on? Informatics [stresses] that we’re following those guidelines and not getting in trouble for doing something incorrectly.”
Final Thoughts on Informatics Nursing
While your role as an informatics nurse will vary depending on the setting you’re working in, this specialty is sure to engage left-brained people, who are typically logical, analytical, and methodological.
If you’re looking for a challenge and are keen to merge human systems with technology, informatics nursing may be the right fit. To learn more about informatics, which is related to IT nursing, you can check out Nursa’s guide on IT nursing.