Nursing is a unique field with countless areas of focus and specializations. The flexibility to work in multiple areas of medicine is one of the draws to the position, which currently employs more than 2.7 million Americans.
The industry is changing, however, and that’s good news for nurses. As it’s evolving, it’s creating even more opportunities for medical professionals to zero-in and specialize on their areas of interest.
Take the Informatics Nurse Specialist, for example. It’s a relatively new position in the industry, defined by the American Nurse Association as someone who oversees the integration of data, information and knowledge to support decision-making by patients and their healthcare providers.
The era of paper-based record systems is nearly over. In 2009, Congress passed a stimulus bill, which mandated that medical facilities begin the switch from paper records to electronic records in order to keep receiving Medicaid and Medicare payments.
This change has helped improve workflows and increase productivity around medical facilities. No more fumbling with payment systems or digging through file cabinets. This new data, however, needs to be managed. It needs to be defined, communicated and overseen. Nursing Informaticists assist other nurses, doctors and medical professionals in their ability to deliver quality care to patients.
Skills and Qualities
Those interested in pursuing a career as an Informatics Nurse Specialist should be quick and critical thinkers who excel in reading comprehension and problem solving skills. These professionals must be able to collect, study and interpret medical data rapidly, accurately and efficiently.
Strong communication skills are also imperative, because professionals in this position may be responsible for training others on the technological capabilities of the informational systems within a facility.
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The requirements for the position are not typically as steep as other areas of medicine. It’s not an entry-level position, but many current nursing informatics professionals learned their trade on the job or through continuing education. The job hasn’t quite been formalized yet, but as medical software and systems increase in complexity over the next few years, the position is expected to eventually require some level of advanced degrees or certificates.
Currently, many employers generally prefer candidates with a Master’s degree in Health Informatics and some experience working with electronic healthcare records, but practicing RNs with their BSN can take classes in informatics nursing to qualify for jobs. Many times, these classes can also count as continuing education credits.
Because of the significant specialization required to pursue nursing informatics, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the average salary for the position to be roughly $83,000 annually. This figure may fluctuate depending on the facility, its location, and the employer and education obtained, but nurses who are qualified for the position stand to find themselves in high demand with the promise of a significant salary.
Since it is a relatively budding specialization, the demand isn’t yet as high as traditional registered nurses. The position is, however, growing much faster than the national average. The BLS estimated a 22% increase in job openings through 2022, and with more companies switching to electronic records and systems, the number projects to be trending upwards for the foreseeable future.