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Nursing Informatics Specialists Combine Medical Skills with Computer Knowledge

Published on December 7, 2009.

 

Job Duties

Nursing informatics analysts combine medical knowledge with computer science. They perform a variety of functions in health care organizations, from building new computer systems to automating and streamlining nursing care. Nursing informatics specialists gather, collect, and organize data and analyze it so that they can improve patient care. Nursing informatics work with a wide range of industries, from insurance firms to hospitals and consulting companies. They write computer programs used within the nursing field and train nurses and other health care workers how to properly use computer systems. They interview nurses and other health care workers to identify where technology can improve healthcare delivery. Some nursing informatics specialists also work in sales, pitching particular produces to consumers.

Job Skills

Technological savvy is a must for the field of nursing informatics. You must also be highly analytical and enjoy solving complex problems. Nursing informatics analysts are critical thinkers with strong communication skills and the ability to analyze current operating techniques and make decisions to improve those processes. The work is intellectually demanding and can be highly stressful, so mental stamina is a must.

Income

Salaries for nursing informatics specialists vary depending on your education, place of employment,and experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, health information technicians earned a median annual wage of $30,610 in 2008, with pharmaceutical companies paying top wages of $56,320 annually. Health services managers had a median annual wage of $80,240, but those working top-paying industries in the field can earn over six figures. Registered nurses earned a median annual salary of $62,450.

Training and Education

To become a nursing informatics analysts, you must first become licensed as a registered nurse. To do his, you must first graduate from a certified nursing program and pass a national licensing exam. There are three different educational options for obtaining a nursing license:

  • You may pursue a bachelor's of science degree in nursing, or BSN. These programs typically are offered at colleges and universities take four years to finish.
  • Community colleges offer an associate's degree in nursing option, which takes two or three years to complete.
  • Some hospitals offer a three-year diploma program, although these programs are becoming more rare.

Although each program qualifies you to become a registered nurse, a bachelor's of science in nursing is typically a prerequisite for nursing informatics--and many nursing informatics analysts undergo additional graduate level training in computer science. Nursing informatics analysts can choose to become certified through the field's national arm, the American Nursing Informatics Association. Certification requirements include completing specific classwork, continuing education and attaining experience in the field.

In 2007, there were 42 accredited bachelor's degree programs and 3 master's degree programs in health information management, according to the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education.

Employment

In 2008, registered nurses, including nursing informatics, held approximately 2.5 million jobs, making the occupation the largest in the healthcare field. Hospitals employ about 60 percent of registered nurses.

Job Outlook

By 2016, there are expected to be 587,000 new jobs for registered nurses, placing the profession among the fastest growing occupations. Increased reliance on technology in medical facilities is expected to be a leading driver of demand for RNs. Some employers have reported difficulty attracting and retaining adequate numbers of registered nurses due to an aging RN workforce and lack of younger nurses to fill vacated positions. But enrollment in nursing programs has spiked in recent years as students seek jobs with good pay and stability.

 

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