Nursing Informatics: Connecting Tech with Care

Nursing Informatics: Connecting Tech with Care

Are you the tech-savvy nurse on the unit? Do your colleagues seek you out with questions about the quirks of your electronic health record (EHR)? If so, consider turning that know-how into a career in nursing informatics.nursing-informatics-connecting-tech-with-care

Leveraging Bedside Experience

Nursing informatics reads a definition from the ANA’s Nursing Informatics: Scope and Standards of Practice, 3rd Edition, “is the specialty that transforms data into needed information and leverages technologies to improve health and healthcare equity, safety, quality, and outcomes.”

A background at the bedside is critical for a successful nursing informatics role. “There’s typically some kind of clinical experience involved before jumping into an informatics role,” said Christy St. John, MSN, RN, NI-BC, CPHQ, president of the American Nursing Informatics Association (ANIA), in an interview. “To come straight from your studies into informatics is fairly rare.”

A combination of clinical nursing experience and education in informatics is essential, according to Melinda L. Jenkins, PhD, FNP, associate professor and director, nursing informatics specialty, Rutgers School of Nursing. Experience with patient care in the clinical setting is essential to the nursing informatics role because this role is the connection between the clinical setting and the technology piece of healthcare, says Lori Martone-Roberts, DNP, RN, CHSE, director of simulation and professor of the practice of nursing, Wheaton College.

Although training and hands-on experience with technology is important, Michael Mickan, chief nursing informatics officer at Memorial Hermann Health System, looks for experience using the tools on hand and a natural curiosity that leads to self-teaching. He feels that a nurse with that kind of informal experience is usually more successful as a nurse informaticist than those who wait to be formally trained before exploring a new technology.

Range of Skills

You’ll need to bring many skills to a nursing informatics role. Mickan outlines a variety of abilities:

Communications: Nurse informaticists must be able to provide “translation” of patient care, and clinician needs to technology partners as well as technology concepts and requirements to clinical users and communicate with various disciplines.

Problem-solving: Informaticists must be able to identify the real problem with astute observation and critical thinking encompassing people, processes, and technology.

Change management: Nurse informaticists must understand change management strategies and be comfortable facilitating, guiding, and managing change.

Project management: Often, a nurse informaticist facilitates collaboration between clinical and technology partners to solve problems and support the optimal use of technology. To do this effectively, proficiency in project management is a must.

Data analytics: Nurse informaticists must have a solid grasp of the data that validates the problems to be solved and provides the baseline for measuring progress.

Day-to-Day Projects

What kind of work will you do on a daily basis? An example, notes Martone-Roberts, could be to evaluate workflows or improve usability and streamline processes, leading to improved functioning and efficient data capture.

She notes that nurses in the nursing informatics role will work with EHRs in various ways, including managing information and troubleshooting issues when healthcare professionals use the system. Other projects involve training, validating, and reporting data and ensuring the collected data is useful.

She suggests that one example of a project could involve using chatbots to keep a patient engaged and decrease re-hospitalization. Similarly, Mickan outlines workflow analysis and optimization projects, working with clinical decision support systems and EHR implementation and optimization.

Growing Field

When it comes to future demand for nursing informaticists, “I see it as a growing sector,” says St. John.

“I think sometimes it’s a matter of being a little bit more broad in the way we think about nursing informatics,” she notes. Instead of simply searching for the term on a job site, a job search can be more about “opening my eyes to things that might include AI, analyst, or health informatics roles. I think nurse informatics roles will be more in demand in the bigger picture of health technology.”

Education and Certification

According to Martone-Roberts, you’ll need an RN and BSN to serve in a nursing informatics role. Also, she says, a nurse with a master’s degree in healthcare informatics, nursing informatics, or data management will be better positioned to succeed.

As in most nursing roles, certification can enhance your standing. The ANCC’s Informatics Nursing Certification (NI-BC) is one of the foremost certifications specifically focused on the characteristics of the nurse informaticist’s role, says Mickan. While not specifically focused on nursing, he says the HIMSS Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS) certification demonstrates knowledge of informatics.

Serving the Patient

Although one of the more technical roles in nursing, nursing informatics still has patient care as the end goal. “At the end of the day, what we’re after is better outcomes for the populations that we’re serving, whether that’s in the inpatient setting, whether that’s in an ambulatory setting, whether that’s in our communities,” says St. John.

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How Data Leads to Better Nursing: Improving Workflows and Patient Care

How Data Leads to Better Nursing: Improving Workflows and Patient Care

Whether nurses think their job includes data informatics or not, it does in one way or another. For almost any nurse, data is a touch point in their day, whether they work at the bedside, in an independent office, or a boardroom.ow-data-leads-to-better-nursing-improving-workflows-and-patient-care

“Data is critical,” says Andrew Awoniyi, ND, RN, NI-BC, education director and board member of the American Nursing Informatics Association (ANIA). “It underlies everything we do.” When a fellowship experience revealed the way technology could have a positive and significant impact on healthcare, Awoniyi says he developed a new understanding of how nurses can use it. “It opened my eyes to how you deliver the best healthcare,” he says. 

Many nurses hear informatics and think it does not apply to their jobs, but the opposite is true, says Awoniyi. “There’s a school of thought that all nurses are nurse informaticists,” he says. “Everyone is using data whether they fully understand it or not.”

Often, a nurse’s day includes responsibilities unrelated to numbers or patterns in data. Still, those responsibilities and the equipment or directions they rely on are a direct result of information that has been collected and analyzed. 

It’s All About Data

“When a new initiative comes out, or there is a new process or new product, that is all because of data,” says Kathleen Ulanday, MBA, MHA, BSN, RN, NI-BC, CPHIMS, and a senior clinical informatics specialist at Texas Children’s Hospital. For example, a new process that aims to solve an identified workflow issue is often found because measurements indicate needed improvement. Once implemented, the new process will be measured as well. All the data produced during those assessments reveals patterns or other information that can influence everything from how nurses dispense medication to shift adjustments.

The most basic nursing process of identifying a problem, assessing what is being done, intervening, and evaluating all relies on some collection of information, Awoniyi says. Assessing a patient uses the data produced through vitals, lab results, and tests, so everyone from a bedside nurse to a chief nursing officer knows how to check those results to help direct patient needs. “Nursing is holistic, and everything we do around that involves data,” he says. “It is not foreign to us.”

Ideally, nurses work more efficiently when any change is implemented to improve an outcome because they gain fact-based information that can be applied broadly, says Ulanday. If a new process has a more significant positive impact on a cardiovascular patient population than a gastro one, there’s an opportunity to learn why. “Nurses might notice those patients go home quicker and ask why is that,” she says. That discrepancy can trigger a deeper investigation into new areas needing attention. 

Informatics Isn’t Just Computers

Nurses who are especially drawn to the idea of working as a nurse informaticist might be happy to know that gathering data doesn’t mean sitting in front of a computer all day. Data, Awoniyi says, has a way of helping nurses when the results are interpreted and applied. And with artificial intelligence leading to advances in medical robotics and more targeted applications, nursing informatics is advancing rapidly. It can be a significant factor in closing gaps in healthcare access. The recent expansion of telehealth shows how technology expands potential. As the population shifts and more people are living longer and with more complex conditions, data, says Awoniyi, can help close the gap in healthcare because it can offer healthcare in settings that are located far from high-tech hospitals.

While data is something that nurses can point to as proof of something working (or not), there’s another unexpected benefit to using data to help guide how nurses perform their jobs and care for patients in any setting. Compliance with a new process can improve a workflow, says Ulanday. When nurses see that improvement, their motivation and morale increase.

An In-demand Career Path

As data output grows, the industry needs nurses who use data efficiently and know how to interpret and apply the data to different nursing scenarios. “There’s a lot of data that is generated,” Awoniyi says, “and we must understand that.”

Whether they want to switch careers or not, Awoniyi recommends that nurses understand how and why technology is incorporated into healthcare processes and settings. “Be willing to contribute,” he says. Partner with other nurses, look at how new systems impact nursing workflows and offer feedback on what might improve the process or quality.

Informatics opens up nursing jobs for everything from a nursing informatics specialist or clinical informatics specialist to that of a professor or educator. According to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) 2022 Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey, 60 percent of the 1,118 respondents reported annual salaries of at least $100,000. The survey also showed how nursing informatics roles are positioned in organizations, with 34% of respondents reporting to information systems/technology, 33% to informatics, and 30% to nursing. Reflecting on this kind of role’s medical and technical aspects, most respondents said they report to two departments more often than just one.

How Data and Healthcare Work Together

Even as informatics helps nurses and patients, it does require time and investment, so backing from leadership is critical, say Awoniyi and Ulanday. At Texas Children’s Hospital, Ulanday says the Magnet® status of the hospital requires that the perspective and experiences of bedside nurses, who give hands-on patient care and know how a workflow is helping or not, are included in leadership’s decision-making.

Nurses who are interested in learning more can start by reaching out to their organization’s technical team to ask questions and gain insight into how technology impacts healthcare, says Ulanday. She says to join a professional organization like ANIA to hear about the latest developments and bring those back to leadership.

Ulanday says nurses know it takes time to learn and adapt to new technology, but they also find it will save them time in the long run. It also has a significant safety impact, as data can improve how something is done. Implementing a new workflow based on those findings can eliminate outdated processes and improve patient safety and outcomes.

“As we look to the future, data needs to be a critical part of that,” says Awoniyi. “Understand how data is collected, analyzed, and interpreted. It’s then about how to leverage that data to bring about change.”

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Five Unusual Nursing Jobs: Is One of Them Right for You?

Five Unusual Nursing Jobs: Is One of Them Right for You?

One of the best things about nursing is that there is a rewarding job for everyone. While some professionals prefer to care for patients inside a hospital, others do their work while spending time outdoors, educating people or traveling the globe. No matter your personality or your working style, you can start an exciting career as soon as you get your registered nurse (RN) license. The following unique nursing jobs may require casual jogger scrub pants or a stylish, formal lab coat. Whatever you wear or how you like to contribute to others, one of these fresh and interesting roles is sure to suit you.

1. Forensic Nurse

If you have an investigative mind and like to advocate for your patients, forensic nursing may be right for you. These experienced RNs help to treat patients who are survivors of assault or abuse. They also collect evidence and may be asked to testify in some court cases. While it takes some training to become a forensic nurse, the field is growing. Nurses can also expect to earn between $59,000 and $89,000 per year.

Forensic nursing is always a rewarding challenge. Professionals with critical thinking skills, compassion and an understanding of the criminal justice system are encouraged to apply. While you will develop relationships with survivors, families and law enforcement, you will also make a difference in helping victims through a traumatic experience. Forensic nurses may work in hospitals, community centers and even in medical examiner offices.

Some of the biggest benefits of becoming a professional in the forensics field include a more flexible shift schedule, additional RN skills and a good salary. To become a forensic nurse, you will need at least an RN license and a BSN. Some roles will require you to obtain a certification as a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE). There is even a SANE-P designation for caring for child and adolescent patients. Even if it is not a requirement at your current job, the SANE certification from the International Association of Forensic Nurses is invaluable to your career.

2. Occupational Nurse

Also referred to as employee health nurses, occupational nurses have a unique role outside of the hospital room. These experienced RNs work in factories, chemical plants and companies of all sizes to recognize and prevent damaging effects from hazardous exposures in the workplace. They may also be hired to treat workers’ illnesses and injuries and partner with other professionals at their company to analyze company medical benefits. Some work for private organizations, while others are hired by the government as contractors or consultants.

As an occupational nurse, you can expect to earn a higher annual salary with the more experience you have. According to PayScale, most nurses can be expected to bring in an average of $71,883 per year, while some of the highest-paid employee health nurses in the country make around $96,000. Some nurses can earn overtime pay, while others are on a fixed salary. Check with the organizations and employers in your area for specifics.

To become a nurse in this interesting field, you will need an RN license and at least two years of nursing experience. Some careers will require you to become certified as an occupational health nurse before you apply, while others will let you earn your certification in the first year on the job. The COHN or COHN-S exams take a few hours to complete. You must also submit an exam fee and recertify your license every five years. If you are committed to the effort it takes to make a difference as an occupational nurse, you will benefit the companies and employees that you work with.

3. Cruise Ship/Resort Nurse

A cruise ship nurse, resort nurse or yacht nurse gets to care for patients, all while working in relaxing or picturesque environments. Some are employed as registered nurses (RNs) in an onboard walk-in clinic, while others are authorized to provide higher-level care in a state-of-the-art medical facility. A resort nurse’s duties vary and may include everything from treating cuts and scrapes to prescribing medication.

While the nurse should have years of experience managing emergencies and triage, some common daily responsibilities include providing first aid and educating guests on how to care for medical conditions. They may also be in charge of education courses and care for onboard employees. Experienced nurses at sea could be hired to provide the company with expert information on how to deal with medical data and healthcare services.

If you would like to travel the world as a cruise ship or resort nurse, you will need an active RN license. Professionals with bachelor’s degrees or master’s degrees are even more attractive applicants for worldwide resorts, cruise lines and luxury yacht companies. Start by browsing jobs in the city or home port of your choice. Be sure to apply for your passport as you begin the interviewing process. You may be headed to a gorgeous international location before you know it.

4. Nurse Informaticist

Nursing informatics is a field of study that combines the fields of information science, communication and computer science. By gathering and analyzing data, nurse informaticists help hospitals and clinic administrators improve the flow of communication and information within their facilities. Other job responsibilities include interpreting and communicating data that will help to increase a clinic’s efficiency, promote excellent patient care and cut unnecessary costs.

To become a nurse informaticist, you will need an RN license, experience with patients and a BSN. Experienced RNs may find a job if they have an additional bachelor’s degree in healthcare or information technology. To be successful in this role, you should be analytical, with robust technical skills and an interest in solving problems. If you are willing to study and earn additional degrees or certifications, nursing informatics is sure to interest you and challenge you throughout your career.

This recent survey of nurse informaticists revealed that over half of them have a postgraduate degree. With all of the experience and specialty skills that nurse informaticists have, it is no surprise that they make a good living. According to the salary professionals at ZipRecruiter, this type of nurse makes an average of over $102,000 per year. While you will love what you do, you will also know you are contributing to the improvement of your hospital and the enhancement of patient care. This is what makes being a nurse informaticist so rewarding.

5. Travel Nurse

Well, travel nursing can’t really be described as “unusual” now, but have you thought about it? Do you thrive on fresh experiences? Going to new places and meeting new people? Does the idea of being an ad hoc nurse while “living out of a suitcase” sound… sort of exciting? If this sounds like you, travel nursing is both a fulfilling and lucrative career. The traveling nurse is in high demand, so you will need to be a well-qualified RN with years of experience caring for patients or have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). If this sounds like you, it is time to bolster your resume and explore a new location.

You will need a minimum of 12-18 months of bedside experience in an advanced care clinic or hospital, as well as a willingness to fill staffing shortages in facilities that need you. You should also be comfortable with living in a different location every few months. Since some healthcare specialties are in more demand than others, recruiters may need you faster if you are experienced in high-demand nursing roles such as dialysis or emergency room (ER) care.

While flexibility is key, you will be able to spend your off-time exploring somewhere new. You may also be able to schedule your time in your old hometown or a favorite vacation spot. Another benefit is compensation. Travel nursing salaries are competitive and often include housing credits or travel stipends. Talk to a travel nursing recruiter about which openings are available in your area. It is also possible to search online for travel nursing jobs that are open in larger hospital systems.

Discover an Exciting Nursing Career

Once you get your RN license and gain valuable skills, there will be a variety of job roles available to you. This list of unique jobs will help you to think about which career in the nursing field will suit you. If necessary, you can also begin to obtain the necessary education and certification to land your dream job. The field of nursing is ever-changing, which means you will always have an exciting career, along with a meaningful purpose.

Nurse Informaticists in Demand

Nurse Informaticists in Demand

 Are you techno-savvy, interested in leading the transformation in healthcare and looking for an in-demand job with a good salary?

Consider a career as a nurse informaticist.

First recognized as a nursing specialty by the American Nurses Association in 1992, nursing informatics is a growing specialty that can lead to higher-paying consulting positions.

The average salary is $98,702, according to the HIMSS 2011 Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey. The 2007 survey found an average salary of $83,675, compared to $69,500 in 2004.

Respondents with a certification in nursing informatics earned an average salary of $119,644. As in 2007,  the highest average salary, $153,576, went to respondents working at consulting firms.

Other findings of the survey include:

  • Most of the 2011 respondents lacked formal informatics training or education.
  • Nearly half worked in a hospital.
  • Most do not have anyone reporting to them.
  • Job titles are inconsistent. Three out of 10 had a title that included informatics or informaticist.
  • Two in five nurse informaticists in the 2011 survey had the job for 10 years or more, compared to a third in 2007 and a quarter in 2004.
  • More than half anticipate pursuing some form of certification. More than one in three (35 percent) indicated that they are pursuing the nursing informatics certification offered by the ANCC.
  • Most (52 percent) report to the Information Technology Department, a third to Nursing Department and nearly a quarter to administration.

Are you considering this specialty? Let us know.

Robin Farmer is a freelance writer with a focus on health, education and business. Visit her at