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How to Become a Nursing Informatics Specialist

As the role of technology in healthcare increases, tech-driven healthcare jobs are also on the rise. One career strongly linked to the tech side of healthcare is nursing informatics specialist. The role allows tech-savvy healthcare professionals to combine their deep knowledge of healthcare and information technology to create systems to help deliver better care and improve patient outcomes.

A nursing informatics specialist in blue scrubs examines a holographic patient chart.

If you are intrigued by using technology to help improve healthcare delivery, you may be wondering how to become a nursing informatics specialist. This role requires a level of education consistent with other nursing professions in the healthcare industry, but it also calls for a unique technical skill set.

What Does a Nursing Informatics Specialist Do?

Nursing informatics specialists use technology to gather data and analytics to find efficient ways to improve healthcare delivery. They typically oversee systems implementation and maintenance, often acting as liaisons between a healthcare facility’s clinical and IT faculties. Additionally, one of their tasks may be training employees in new technologies.

At the same time, nursing informatics specialists function as registered nurses and perform duties consistent with traditional nursing roles, such as patient assessment and treatment. A nursing background can be helpful when analyzing system data to determine how effectively technology is improving patient care.

Because the role of nursing informatics specialist involves overseeing and training others, these professionals take on tasks that have managerial or leadership elements. Some of these tasks may include project management and creating and tracking quality-based initiatives.

Nursing informatics specialists aim to use healthcare technology to improve care delivery. These improvements have the potential to influence healthcare policy and public health initiatives.

Steps to Become a Nursing Informatics Specialist 

Successful nursing informatics specialists possess a broad skill set that exhibits a deep level of competency in both healthcare and technological roles. Because they’re registered nurses, they need to have strong critical-thinking skills, be detail-oriented, have the ability to communicate effectively, and exhibit compassion and emotional stability.

Information technology has become a strong component of the profession, so nursing informatics specialists must display extensive knowledge of technology and tech-derived information. They must be proficient in a broad range of IT systems, have sharp data analytical skills, and be competent in project management.

While developing technological proficiency is important to success as a nursing informatics specialist, it’s important to note that the role is still fundamentally a nursing position. The path to becoming a nursing informatics specialist starts with building a firm foundation of the nursing skills that produce excellent patient care. An online RN to BSN program can help aspiring nursing informatics specialists to develop and sharpen key nursing skills that can help them identify the healthcare benefits of medical technology.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

The minimum educational requirement to become a nursing informatics specialist position is a bachelor’s degree. If you’re already a registered nurse, a reputable online RN to BSN program can help you cultivate the nursing competencies needed to thrive in the role. You may also want to enroll in a few IT or technology courses to develop your tech-driven skills.

For many nursing informatics specialists, earning a bachelor’s degree is just the starting point. Employers often require qualified candidates to possess an advanced degree, such as a master’s or doctorate. It’s advantageous to pursue such a degree; according a survey conducted by the health information technology organization HIMSS, nearly 60 percent of professional nursing informatics specialists polled had an advanced degree.

Step 2: Meet License and Certification Requirements

Nursing informatics specialists must be licensed by the state where they practice. Licensing requirements vary, but all states require a degree from an approved nursing program and a passing score on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). You can visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing website for a more detailed list of state requirements.

Certifications aren’t mandatory for nursing informatics specialists. However, as the nursing informatics field expands, more employers are listing certification as a prerequisite for employment.

You can become certified through programs furnished by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the HIMSS. The ANCC offers the Informatics Nursing Certification (RN-BC) certification, which many credentialed employees in the field hold. You have your choice of two certification programs from HIMSS: Certified Associate in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CAHIMS) is designed for entry-level certification, and Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS) is an advanced-level certification.

Step 3: Complete On-the-Job Training

While nursing informatics specialist positions require at least a bachelor’s degree, it is possible to receive on-the-job training in the field while working as an RN. This type of training can enable aspiring nursing informatics specialists to further sharpen key nursing skills and competencies in a controlled real-world environment. On-the-job training may take place in a supervised clinical setting as part of an undergraduate program.

Step 4: Gain Experience

Finally, to become a nursing informatics specialist, you must gain postgraduate work experience. Because the position requires advanced competence in both nursing and technology, having experience in the field can further demonstrate your ability, which could set you above the competition in the eyes of an employer.

Nursing Informatics Specialist Salaries

According to PayScale, the average salary for nursing informatics specialists is $85,700. PayScale derives this figure from a salary range that stretches from $64,900 to approximately $115,500.

Nursing informatics specialists with more experience or an advanced degree will likely receive a higher pay than those with less experience or just an undergraduate degree. The location of your practice may also factor into your salary. Those working in a city with a higher cost of living will likely earn more than someone practicing in a city with a lower cost of living.

Job Growth Outlook for Nursing Informatics Specialists

Nursing informatics specialists fall under the broader category of registered nurses, which is good news in terms of projected job growth. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts the job market for registered nurses will grow by 15 percent between 2016 and 2026. This represents a much faster growth rate compared with the 7 percent job growth for the average profession.

Explore Possible Nursing Career Paths

If you’re intrigued by the increased use of technology in healthcare, nursing informatics specialist may be the ideal role to pursue. Its unique mix of care and technology can put you at the forefront of healthcare’s constantly evolving patient care delivery process. Learn more about how Maryville’s online RN to BSN program can help you begin that journey today.

 

Sources:

American Nurses Credentialing Center, Informatics Nursing Certification (RN-BC)

HIMSS, CAHIMS Certification

HIMSS, CPHIMS Certification

HIMSS, “What Is a Nurse Informatics Specialist?”

Houston Chronicle, “Qualifications for a Nursing Informatics Specialist”

Maryville University, “Career Opportunities for Nurses: Opening Doors With a BSN”

PayScale, Average Nursing Informatics Specialist Salary

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses