The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) defines Nursing Informatics (NI) as “the specialty that integrates nursing science with multiple information management and analytical sciences to identify, define, manage, and communicate data, information, knowledge, and wisdom in nursing practice.” NI professionals also simplify documentation of patient care and enter patient notes using computers, mobile devices and voice recognition software.

A report published by HIMSS in 2007 stated that nurses may spend as little as 15% of their time on direct patient care, but 50% on documentation. A more recent survey in 2017 reported that 25% of a nurse’s time is spent on direct patient care during a 12 hour shift (Strategies for Nurse More than 1,600 hospital-based nurses were part of this online survey. Adaptive technology has been working to improve the documentation process that is vital to the healthcare industry.

The interest in implementing clinical information systems escalated since 2004 when President Bush called for more Electronic Health Records (EHR). According to the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), around 70,000 specialists in this field will be needed within the next few years due to the impact that recent federal laws have had on the healthcare system.

In order to work in this specified field, an Informatics Nurse Certification Examination must be passed through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Eligible candidates for the exam must first meet these criteria:

  • Hold a current, active RN license in a state or territory of the United States or hold the professional, legally recognized equivalent in another country.
  • Hold a bachelor’s or higher degree in nursing or a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field.
  • Have practiced the equivalent of 2 years full-time as a registered nurse.
  • Have completed 30 hours of continuing education in informatics nursing within the last 3 years.
  • Meet one of the following practice hour requirements:
  • Have practiced a minimum of 2,000 hours in informatics nursing within the last 3 years.
  • Have practiced a minimum of 1,000 hours in informatics nursing in the last 3 years and completed a minimum of 12 semester hours of academic credit in informatics courses that are  part of a graduate-level informatics nursing program.
  • Have completed a graduate program in informatics nursing containing a minimum of 200 hours of faculty-supervised practicum in informatics nursing.

Therefore, you must first complete your RN, then next step is to earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). This degree can be obtained online and save you money as outlined in our Top Cheapest Online RN to BSN programs. Also, your online RN to BSN degree can be completed quicker than you expect. Proceeding with the criteria above, after your BSN comes either thousands of hours of practice in informatics nursing or earn your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). The latter may bode better for your career as the trend in nursing is to have 80% with BSNs by 2020. Completing your online MSN degree allows you to continue work and live at home, all while enrolled in a top online MSN program.  Several of these schools offer the specialty of Informatics, such as Aspen University’s 36 credit-hour online MSN program.

In summary, nursing informatics is a marriage of medicine and IT. NI is a combination of cognitive science, computer science, information science, and nursing science. It includes the development, analysis, and evaluation of information systems augmented by technologies that support, enhance and manage patient care. Therefore, be prepared for courses in data management, statistics, clinical information systems, to name a few. If you have the aptitude to embrace patient care with IT, then you’ll join a burgeoning branch of nursing. As well as a lucrative one- a 2014 survey by HIMSS reported the median salary was $93,000.