The salary potential in nursing informatics is very good as this is a growing field with a lot of potential employment. In this century, nursing and healthcare are completely connected to informatics and technology, so nurses must stay up to date on their training and education. Nurse informaticists work in many different settings, including clinics, hospitals, universities, consulting firms, large organizations, and various healthcare facilities. Because nursing informatics is such a broad field, it offers an equally wide range of employment opportunities each offering very good salary potential.
What is Nursing Informatics?
Nursing informatics is the connecting of nursing with information technology in an attempt to provide the best possible healthcare and patient care to patients. Using computers and information technology, healthcare professionals can provide each other with important healthcare information on patients.
One example is electronic medical records or electronic health records. A patient sees a doctor in one department of a hospital. The patient’s medical information is entered into the hospital’s computer as an electronic record. If the patient is required to see another doctor in another area of the same health system, this second provider is up to date on the patient’s visit with the first provider by just logging into the system. Electronic medical records are just one of several methods of nurse informatics.
Why is This an Important Career?
Nurse informaticists play a key role in patient safety because they’re in charge of keeping patients’ records complete and secure. Any piece of missing information in a patient’s records could have a potentially deadly effect.
In light of this, nurse informaticists must have the communication skills to convey this information accurately. They must also have a strong understanding of medical policies and a variety of other information that the average person may not.
This professional additionally looks at the data involved in a patient’s records and in the organization’s records as a whole unit. Once a nurse informaticist knows what the numbers say, then this professional is in a position to boost the performance of the medical teams in the facility.
Nurses play a key role in the medical field, and most people believe that they can have a more than a notable impact on the care that patients receive. They also are instrumental in implementing hospital policy, keeping workflow going, and optimizing patient safety. Nurse informaticists stand at the forefront of this care.
Training for Nurse Informaticists
Nursing informatics combines a number of disciplines. These professionals must understand nursing science, of course, as well as communication, computer science, information science, and a slew of other disciplines. Degree programs exist for this specialty, typically BSN-to-MSN programs.
These nurses have an advantage over many others in the field in that they enter the field of nursing informatics with experience under their belts. Their advanced degrees put them into a position to step into roles, like nursing educators or chief information officers. These jobs put them into a position to earn a higher salary, as well as enjoy the prestige that comes along with such a career.
Sample curricula in this degree track include:
- Foundations in Nursing Informatics
- Nursing Informatics Field Experience
- Data Science and Analytics
- Translational Research for Practice and Populations
- Professional Presence and Influence
- Essentials of Advanced Nursing Practice Field Experience
- Advanced Information Management.
These nurses must also be prepared to fulfill any prerequisites that their master’s program requires. Their graduate program may require them to have taken coursework in project management, leadership, statistics, research, clinical information systems, and database management to name but a few.
Additionally, many of these degree programs are online, which offers busy professionals the flexibility they need to pursue their career goals and to continue working at the same time.
Related Careers That These Educational Programs Prepare People For
Because nurse informaticists develop a broad range of skills, they qualify for a number of positions within the medical field. These positions require them to possess informatics skills and allow them to broaden their horizons.
Some people who work in this field specialize further by going into research. These specialists typically work for universities, private organizations, and sometimes, corporations. Their medical background, as well as their training in analytics, puts them in a position to analyze the data created by the organization.
Others become nurses who are involved with public health. Because they have skills in informatics, they’re in a position to analyze what the data says about epidemics and other public health concerns.
For example, these nurse informaticists may try to determine if a virus is likely to become an epidemic. They may also recognize patterns in certain geographic areas, like suicide or cancer rates, because of their training. This puts them in a position to affect public policy and to provide important information to healthcare professionals.
Common Work Tasks
While every day is different for the nurse informaticist, there are some common tasks that these professionals perform. Their days may start with them troubleshooting new technology or training staff on how to use new programs. By mid-morning, they could be designing and testing systems before they take their coffee break.
Hospital administrators may assign them project management duties. These duties may require them to spearhead new programs, as well as keep the administration apprised of the progress on a project. They may also become the nursing staff’s liaison with the hospital’s or doctor’s office information technology experts.
Finally, they could be tasked with the development of new organizational standards and policies. In keeping with this, their job may also require them to evaluate each new program or system to work out any possible bugs.
Being responsible for so many tasks is just one of the reasons the informatics nurse’s salary is so high. In fact, among nursing specialties, it’s one of the highest.
The medical field is a heavily-regulated field. In light of this, nurses, including nurse informaticists, must undergo licensing procedures. Board certification can include a number of factors, like:
- Nursing degrees, including the bachelor’s degree
- Whether the nurse is a registered nurse and has been working as one for at least two years
- Continuing education requirements
- Practical hours of work
To earn their certifications, nurse informaticists must take an exam. Once they pass the exam, their credentials are good for five years.
Salaries for Nursing Informatics Professionals
A survey in 2016 indicated that informatics nurses are eighth among the top 15 highest paying nursing jobs in the United States according to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society and nurse.org. About 24 percent earned wages ranging from $61,000 to $85,000, while 25 percent earned from $86,000 to $100,000, and 46 percent earned more than $100,000.
The Mid-Atlantic and Pacific areas of the United States is where the highest number of nurse informatics earned more than $100,000 annually. Another interesting fact was that RNs working for third-party vendors and consulting firms earned higher wages than those working in hospitals. The ones working for third-party vendors saw wages from $101,000 to $115,000 or more.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that registered nurses earn an average of $73,550 as of May 2018, but wages ranged from $48,690 to $104,100 with the average hourly wage being $35.36. Registered nurses with additional training, such as what’s needed for informatics jobs, typically have a higher wage potential.
Factors Affecting Wages
It’s easier to offer the wage potential for a certain career like nursing informatics because there are so many factors that can affect wages:
- Training and education
- Degrees earned
Of all these factors, geographic location is probably the factor that can affect wages the most. When employees relocate to another city or state, salary potential is often the main reason. Here are some examples of how different wages can be earned in different states. The five states where RNs earned the highest wages in 2018 are:
- California – $102,700
- Hawaii – $96,990
- District of Columbia – $90,110
- Massachusetts – $89,330
- Oregon – $88,770
The one thing of which there is little to no doubt is that informatics is here to stay. This is an important career specialty in nursing because these professionals ensure that patients remain safe. They keep track of patient records, making sure that all the information about the patient from the patient’s doctors to the pharmacist gets into the patient’s records.
Additionally, they act as a liaison between different members of the medical staff and the IT/ information department. While many of them work in hospitals, others feel drawn to research or public health. Indeed, their educations prepare them for a number of specializations, which not only lead to career rewards but also to higher salaries. Nurses or aspiring nursing who enjoy data management, information technology and computers, in general, are advised to jump on this bandwagon known as nursing informatics and enjoy the ride. Nurse informatics salary and excellent work opportunities are benefits of perusing a career in this field.