Nurses have dozens of choices when it comes to career specialization. Tech-savvy nurses who are drawn to data may find their dream job in informatics. Clinical experience and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), are the first steps on the path to this in-demand career.
The online RN to BSN program at the University of Southern Indiana (USI), for example, includes a course in nursing informatics. With the online format, registered nurses (RNs) can maintain their employment and build clinical experience while earning their degree.
What Is Nursing Informatics?
Healthcare generates more patient information than most individuals can manage. Patient histories accumulate across multiple providers over a span of years, and nurse informaticists manage the resulting data to improve care, increase efficiency and reduce costs.
The American Nurses Association defines nursing informatics as the specialty that "integrates nursing science with multiple information and analytical sciences to identify, define, manage and communicate data, information, knowledge and wisdom in nursing practice."
Informatics nurses ultimately support patients, colleagues and other stakeholders in achieving positive outcomes. As the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) puts it, "nursing informatics professionals are the liaisons to successful interactions with technology in healthcare."
Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are a familiar example of informatics at work, and nurse informaticists help optimize the many advantages of EHRs. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) points out that EHRs:
- Provide up-to-date, easily accessible patient information
- Reduce unnecessary tests and procedures
- Prevent medical errors
- Reduce the risk of adverse drug events
- Improve communication, teamwork and care coordination
- Facilitate transitions between care settings
- Improve follow-up for patients and providers
The ONC's Healthcare IT Buzz highlights the many ways nursing informatics improves productivity. An RN-led informatics project, for instance, reduced assessment documentation time by 20% and eliminated 400,000 clicks within medication workflow. Furthermore, an evidence-based clinical project streamlined documentation protocols so well that nurses regained as many as two hours per 12-hour shift. The time formerly spent on documentation was rededicated to patient care.
How Can RNs Build a Career in Informatics?
Demand for nurse informaticists won't lessen anytime soon. The healthcare industry emphasizes improved patient outcomes and operational efficiency in addition to technological advances. Nurse informaticists support these goals, and they boost productivity.
Like many in-demand RN specialties, aspiring informaticists may find that a graduate degree is required or preferred. Getting started with a BSN now is the first step to earning a master's in health informatics.
USI's online RN to BSN program prepares students with the knowledge and skill sets they need to launch a career in informatics. The curriculum includes a Nursing Informatics course. Areas of emphasis cover
- Healthcare computing
- Information management
- Data acquisition
- Data utilization
- Ethical issues related to informatics
How Much Do Nurse Informaticists Earn?
RNs enjoy higher-than-average salaries, and nurses who specialize often boost this earning power. This is the case for nursing informaticists. According to Nurse.org, nursing informatics ranks in the top 15 for highest-paying RN careers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the annual median wage for RNs is $71,730, but ZipRecruiter (September 2019) lists average salaries for informatics nurses at $101,632.
For RNs who enjoy keeping up with the latest technology, a career in nursing informatics offers opportunities to realize the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's Triple Aim of healthcare: better care for individuals, improved population health and lower per capita costs.
Learn more about the University of Southern Indiana's RN to BSN online.
Sources:U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Registered Nurses
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