Nursing Informatics as a 21st-Century Career, The Nurse Keith Show, EPS 114

We can all see that technology is changing quickly, and healthcare and nursing are a part of that speeding train. There just seems to be no slowing down in sight for the remainder of the 21st century. What can nurses do to leverage this opportunity? 

Robot and human hands

A Tech Renaissance in Nursing and Healthcare

Nurses have been involved with computers for decades, and I believe the integration of technology and nursing has seen an enormous shift since the year 2000. Where we were mostly focused on EMRs some years ago, there’s a whole lot more going on for nurses to dig into if the interest and willingness is there. 

We may like to comfort ourselves by thinking that bedside nursing will be 100% immune from robotics and AI, but I believe that the next generation will see many changes in this regard. It may not be like a sexy and exciting science fiction movie, and we won’t be completely replaced as nurses, but something is going to happen to bedside nursing along the way — change is inevitable.  

Digging Into Nursing Tech 

Some of you out there may already be serving as super users at work, teaching other nurses and staff to use the computer programs you’ve already mastered. s, and that’s a great place to begin. When a new EMR is introduced in a medical facility, we’ve probably all seen how all hell can break loose — some people bang the desk in anger, and some seem to give up in frustration. However, there always seems to be at least one or two nurses who get the hang of it pretty quickly, intuitively grasp how to use the program, and then teach the other nurses how to make it work. I’ve been in that position in the past, and the local nurse super user is a great thing to be. 

Some nurses volunteer to become super users and received extra training. Some nurses leverage this type of training into positions in the IT department of their workplace. 

What I’m saying here is that if you have an interest, there’s probably a way for you to get involved and learn some new skills, even without going back to school. 

Nurse Tech Education

Another area where I see great promise and unmitigated growth is the tech leadership sector of nursing and healthcare. Some nurses are choosing to enter informatics and information management through the front door by earning Master’s degrees and PhDs in areas like an MS in Information Systems Management or a DNP in Informatics Leadership, both of which are offered by my friends at American Sentinel University. (Disclaimer: American Sentinel has been a sponsor of this podcast in the past, and I do have an ongoing relationship with them as a freelance blogger.) 

Walden University has an MSN in nursing informatics, as do Capella, Johns Hopkins, and many other schools. Penn State offers a 9-credit online certificate program in Nursing Informatics. 

Jobs, Salaries, and the Rest

The American Nursing Informatics Association (ANIA) is a good resource, and their peer-reviewed journal that launched in 2016 may be of interest, as well.

Payscale.com lists the average informatics nurse salary as $75,518.

Indeed.com states that Informations Systems Managers earn an average of $97,775, although these aren’t specifically nursing positions.

A quick general search for nurse informatics jobs on Indeed yielded 1,281 open positions, including information analyst, informatics nurse, clinical informatics specialist, and many other job titles. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t offer specific information on nursing informatics specialists, but they report that Computer Systems Analysts earn an average of $87,220 per year. 

HIMSS Annual Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey

One of our best sources of data is the Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) and their annual Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey. Here are some details of the executive summary of the 2017 survey as quoted directly from the HIMSS online pdf

Training and education in informatics continues to advance. Over half (56 percent) of the respondents had some type of on-the-job informatics training, but of those, 28 percent had only on-the-job training compared to 34 percent in 2014. 

41 percent of respondents reported that they were currently enrolled in some type of informatics education or training, either a formal degree program or a non-degree program/course.

25 percent of respondents’ salary ranged from $86,000 to $100,000 while 24 percent ranged from $61,000 to $85,000. Nearly half (46 percent)
of respondents indicated a salary of over $100,000.There were increases from the 2014 survey for each salary range over $100,000.

Over half (51 percent) of the respondents indicated that they would be pursuing some type of certification within the next year. Survey respondents indicated that the perceived value of certification was personal satisfaction and enhancing their credibility and marketability. Certification is found to have a fairly high impact on respondents’ career paths; a new ratings question was added to the 2017 survey and the
average rating for the impact certification has on career was 4.96 out of seven.

Over half (58 percent) of respondents indicated that they were satisfied or
highly satisfied with their current position. The majority of respondents
(80 percent) were also satisfied or highly satisfied with their career choice in informatics.

The job responsibilities of the respondents continue to include systems implementation, utilization/optimization, systems development, clinical analytics, quality, and education. 

Interestingly, only 10 percent of respondents in the HIMSS study were APRNs. More than half have a Master’s degree, with 22 percent having an MSN and 23 percent having a Master’s in Nursing Informatics.

28 percent reported that the only informatics training they had received was on the job. 
27 percent) have earned a nursing informatics certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). 

32 percent stated that their organization had a Chief Nurse Informatics Officer (CNIO) in place. 

Since 55 percent of respondents with a Master’s degree earn over $100,000 per year and only 37 percent of those without post-graduate degrees earn over $100,000, it seems clear that a Master’s degree certainly is one key to overall increased earning potential. 

The Future Is Unwritten

We don’t exactly know where the future of healthcare is headed in terms of technology, but I put my money on robotics, artificial intelligence, more sophisticated apps, and other innovations we probably don’t know about yet (probably because they don’t exist). 

Although we can’t predict how nurse informaticists will be utilized in the long term and how job prospects and the economics of healthcare will change, for those nurses with interests in technology and information systems, I believe this career path is a good bet for long-term viability and job security. 


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Be well, dig deep, and keep in touch!

Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BCKeith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind NurseKeith.com and the well-known blog, Digital Doorway.

Keith is co-host of RNFMRadio.com, a wildly popular nursing podcast; he also hosts The Nurse Keith Show, his own podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses. Keith was previously the resident nursing career expert at Nurse.com.

A widely published nurse writer, Keith is the author of “Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century.”

He has also contributed chapters to a number of books related to the nursing profession, and has written for Nurse.org, Nurse.com, MultiViews News Service, LPNtoBSNOnline, StaffGarden, Working Nurse Magazine, and other online platforms.

Mr. Carlson brings a plethora of experience as a nurse thought leader, online nurse personality, holistic career coach, writer, and well-known successful nurse entrepreneur.

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