Obtaining a Nursing Informatics Master’s Degree – A Nurse’s Story

Nursing Informatics LectureObtaining a masters degree in nursing informatics has been a goal of mine for almost 18 years. The decision to raise a family thwarted those dreams until my employer imposed mandatory advanced degree requirements. Several of my colleagues were already enrolled at a popular online program and were very happy with the work-life balance the program provided.

Easily persuaded and missing a deadline of a well-respected local program led me to make the hasty decision to enroll along with my colleagues. The enrollment process was fairly easy as an enrollment specialist was assigned to walk me through the admissions process.

Attending part-time, I was able to complete the program in about four years. While the online program offered flexibility and convenience, I did have some reservations once I was done.

Was I prepared for the real world? Did I have the necessary education to be successful in nursing informatics? I will say after investigating other online nursing informatics programs, I did feel a bit cheated. There were a total of 3 nursing informatics courses to satisfy the requirement for the degree while other online programs offered 4 to 6 courses focused on nursing informatics.

Another issue I faced during completion of my program was the practicum requirement. I was challenged with securing a practicum site to complete my practicum. While many students had the luxury of completing practicum activities at their place of employment, my employer did not nor would not secure an agreement with my university.

I was left with the arduous task of finding a practicum site, which proved to be very difficult. I found many of the area hospitals where I reside have existing agreements with local universities and did not provide access for practicum activities for those not affiliated with those universities.

After several months, I became frustrated in my search and requested assistance with site placement from the nursing school. I was met with some resistance as I was told on more than one occasion that it was my responsibility to secure a location. As I wanted to obtain nursing informatics experience, I felt this to be an additional challenge.

Some of my colleagues enrolled in the program chose to complete a practicum topic outside of informatics just to satisfy the requirements of the degree. I was also confused by their ability to choose a practicum that did not have an informatics focus. Was this not a requirement for degree completion? How could the university allow this?

I personally felt this to be a disservice to my future in nursing informatics. What better way to obtain experience in nursing informatics than to perform a robust practicum in the field? I would not only have the opportunity to learn and gain exposure, but to establish relationships and network in my new career.

I again approached the university with a clear argument that I attempted to secure a practicum location. Given the nature of my specialty, the expense of tuition, and the degree requirements, I almost demanded the academic dean assist with my efforts. I was eventually given a choice of 3 facilities. The first was within one-half an hour from my house, however the other two were in excess of 1 ½-2 hours away. The school assured me that I would not be traveling to the location very often, which was not the case. To the contrary, I was onsite at my practicum facility at least once or twice per week for a period of six months. I could not imagine completing my practicum without the time I invested onsite at my practicum facility.

Reflecting on my experience, if potential students are already practicing in nursing informatics but desire an advanced degree, the program I selected would be a great option. However, those wishing to pursue a career change and obtain a masters in nursing informatics without prior experience or exposure, I would suggest selection of a program that offers a program highlighting elements of nursing informatics to prepare students while additionally offering support to secure a mentor and facility within nursing informatics.

Chris (55 Posts)

Chris Smith works as a clinical analyst consultant with 9 years of experience working in the nursing informatics field. He started this blog to help others learn more about nursing informatics because he got tired of reading a lot of misinformation about this field on the web. You can connect with Chris on Google+

2 Responses to Obtaining a Nursing Informatics Master’s Degree – A Nurse’s Story

  • Jeff Munz says:

    I have the interest to pursue my Master’s in Nursing Informatics, but when I compare my current salary to that of a Nursing informatics analyst, I’m confused why I would incur more college debt? If the pay would be substantially better, where I could pay off the debt relatively quickly with the increase in salary, I would love to pursue the field; my current salary is equal to the stated median salary. Unfortunately, I hear the hype but I’m not seeing the reward. Can you shed any light on this subject?

    • admin says:

      You don’t need a master’s to get in the field; debts are for those who chose that route, but it’s not mandatory to have a master’s in informatics to get a job in the field. As far as salaries, they could go up with experience, as long as you know your job well.

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