Nursing Informatics Jobs: Why Do Many RNs Choose This Nursing Specialty?

Nursing Informatics Jobs: Why Do Many RNs Choose This Nursing Specialty?

Are you a registered nurse, but you’re looking for a change? Do you want to stay in the field of nursing, but perhaps step back from direct patient care? Are you interested in technology and data and how the two are used in nursing?

If you said yes to the first or second questions then you may need to do some self-care and perhaps start planning for a change. Maybe a change of setting, or a change of specialty, or simply a change of shifts. Burnout from direct patient care can happen to the best of us, but it doesn’t have to mean an end to your nursing career.

If you said yes to all three questions, then you need to ask yourself one more: Do you know what an Informatics Nurse is?

What is an Informatics Nurse?

An informatics nurse is a registered nurse who usually has a bachelor’s or master’s degree and a nerdy love of information and technology and how those two things can be tools put to good use in the nursing industry for better decision making, better patient outcomes, better work lives for nurses, and so much more. They work to develop and advance healthcare technology, and their role is expanding and becoming even more important as the healthcare industry has turned to digital medical records.

It’s a relatively new specialty when you compare it to that of age-old specialties such as labor and delivery, and emergency department. And yet, advancements in the last two decades made in those specialties have been made in large part to that of the drive, ingenuity, and dedication of Nursing Informaticists.

Characteristics of an Informatics Nurse:

  • Technical and computer skills
  • Analytic skills
  • Project management skills
  • Business correspondence skills
  • Direct patient care experience*

Experience with direct patient care isn’t exactly a characteristic but belongs on this list because it is so important. In order to be a great informatics nurse, you must be able to truly understand the intricacies of the nursing industry from your own personal experience. You need to be able to identify the frustrations and difficulties that nurses face every day at work so that you can creatively and legitimately help develop technologies to make their jobs easier.

How to Become an Informatics Nurse?

If you’re working on your bachelor’s degree, you can ask to have a clinical rotation with an informatics nurse or with the IT department. This would set you on the informatics track early on in your career.

If you’re already in the work force that’s no problem. This might interest you but aren’t ready to commit to a graduate degree, there are a few things you can do to test the waters.

  • Jump for opportunities to be on committees or focus groups that work closely with IT departments.
  • Take an obvious interest in the ways technology is utilized in your clinical work, and get really good at it.
  • Indicate to your management team that you have an interest in IT so that when opportunities arise they think of you.
  • Become a “super-user”. If your employer is getting ready to roll out some a new tech system, volunteer to help with the roll out. Being a super-user will give you more training and access to a new system opening the door for you to become familiar with it, provide feedback, and later on support when staff are trained.
  • You can also look into certification options. Some certifications require graduate level credit hours or a graduate degree, but some may not require such a time and financial commitment. Let’s review some of the certification options now.

Certifications for Nursing Informatics Nurses

There are a few different options for certification in the informatics specialty.

The University of Phoenix offers an online certification program of 10 credit hours. The program is fully online and can be taken one class at a time to allow you to study while still working. It’s called the Graduate Healthcare Informatics Certificate and is available if you already have an undergraduate degree.

Although the specialty doesn’t have the weight of time behind it, the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) has developed a certification for informatics as well. Thereby giving nurses who pass, the RN-BC credential that is valid for five years.

Requirements for eligibility to sit for the exam are as follows (as listed from the ANCC site):

  • Hold a current, active RN license in a state or territory of the United States or hold the professional, legally recognized equivalent in another country.
  • Hold a bachelor’s or higher degree in nursing or a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field.
  • Have practiced the equivalent of 2 years full-time as a registered nurse.
  • Have completed 30 hours of continuing education in informatics nursing within the last 3 years.
  • Meet one of the following practice hour requirements:
    • Have practiced a minimum of 2,000 hours in informatics nursing within the last 3 years; 
    • Have practiced a minimum of 1,000 hours in informatics nursing in the last 3 years and completed a minimum of 12 semester hours of academic credit in informatics courses that are part of a graduate-level informatics nursing program; 
    • Have completed a graduate program in informatics nursing containing a minimum of 200 hours of faculty-supervised practicum in informatics nursing.

Also available are the certifications CAHIMS (Certified Associate in Healthcare Information and Management Systems) or CPHIMS (Certified Professionals in Healthcare Information and Management Systems) through the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, Inc. (HIMSS).  

To be eligible for the CAHIMS you need a high school diploma or GED equivalent and 45 continuing education hours in healthcare IT, for more details review the CAHIMS Candidate Handbook.

Eligibility for the CPHIMS includes a bachelor’s degree and five years of appropriate work experience or a graduate degree and three years of appropriate work experience. For more details review the CPHIMS Candidate Handbook.

If you’re serious about advancing in a career of informatics, you may consider joining the American Nursing Informatics Association (ANIA). If you become a member of the ANIA you can receive a discounted rate for the ANCC credential, and have access to free webinars, earn contact hours, networking opportunities and more. Getting connected to other informatics nurses in the industry will keep you current on big changes and opportunities.

Technology is always changing the way healthcare is delivered in this country and it’s important to stay up on those changes. Healthcare industries such as nursing and dental even have apps nowadays that allow you to place PRN workers on demand! As an IT nurse, you will be more current with these waves of changes and can serve as an expert in the field.

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