What is Nursing Informatics?

The American Nursing Informatics Association defines nursing informatics as

a specialty that integrates nursing science, computer science, and information science to manage and communicate data, information, knowledge and wisdom in nursing practice.”




This is a very succint definition of nursing informatics, and in this post, I’ll further expand on what it really means to merge all these fields together.

Nonetheless, you can explore other topics in the blog below.

Nursing Informatics interview questions.
Nursing Informatics vs Clinical Informatics
Nursing informatics salaries

Understanding What Nursing Informatics Is

Nursing informatics falls within the field of health informatics. People who have a nursing degree could implement computer applications in different health care settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, doctor’s offices, public health clinics, among others.

Before I go further I want to clarify that nursing informatics jobs specifically require a person to have a nursing degree. However, you can be in another healthcare profession and get a job as an informatics or clinical analyst. To read more about this, click here.


Implementing these health care computer applications requires the initiation of a project, which goes through various, standard phases.

A project starts with the design and analysis phase, the configuring phase is next, which is followed by the testing phase, training, and the implementation and support phases.

Each of the above phases requires the nursing informatics analyst to perform specific tasks, while at the same time, the role also serves as a liaison between various departments within a healthcare facility.

Designing And Analyzing

To understand these phases, let’s suppose a hospital decides to switch from paper documentation to an electronic record for the nurses in a rehab unit.

To start this ambitious project the informatics nurse must meet with the rehab nursing team and the following tasks could be performed:

  • Give a demo of how the application to be implemented in the department works
  • Explain how the application can be configured to meet the needs of the users and department
  • Gather and collect all data related to the documentation the nursing rehab team does
  • Lastly, analyze the current workflow of how the department works, and make tweaks,  updates as needed

All the steps above are part of the design and analysis phase of the project.

Configuring The Application

Once all this information has been collected by the informatics nurse, the next step is to configure the application(s) based on this data, which most likely will have new department workflows that hopefully will take advantage of the electronic medical record.

One analyst can be assigned to configure the application, but most likely, there are different analysts working on different parts of the system.

For instance, one analyst could be in charge of creating the assessments the rehab unit will use, while another analyst is specifically assigned to do the the assessments of different nursing units, while another analyst is in charge of creating/maintaning the users in the database.

Testing

Once the application(s) has been configured, the next step is to test it to make sure no errors happen for the users. Also, this is a good time to verify that the application behaves as designed.

For example, the design for a doctor’s screen might be different than for a nurse’s. Logging on to the system as a doctor should take you to the Doctor’s view, not the nurses view.

Testing specific modules of the system is known as unit testing. One analyst might be in charged of testing different modules in a system, or this person might spefically test some modules.

For instance, the analyst responsible for uploading or creating users in the system could run a script to verity that all the users are there, while the person in charge of creating the assessments could verify if all the elements are in place.

Once each module is verified that is working as designed and built, integration testing takes place. This is when all the modules are tested together to make sure everything flows without hiccups.

Training

The nursing informatics analyst is responsible for training the users on how to use the system.

However, some organizations have a specific role for a application trainer, and in this case, the analyst trains the trainer on how to use the system.

The trainer is then responsible for creating the training material and the informatics analyst could review it to make sure there are no errors.

But typically the informatics analyst trains the users and also develops the training material for the users.

Implementation And Support

When the system is at last implemented, the superusers (users identified by the informatics nurse as being able to navigate/use the system well), who were trained earlier in the project, help other users to navigate the new system.

Also, when unexpected issues occur during a go live, it is the role of the informatics nurse to fix them or delegate them to the person in charge.

So What Is Nursing Informatics?

Nursing informatics is a broad and generic field where nursing science and computer technology merge to come up with solutions to meet or improve the quality care requirements for patients. Nurses take many roles within this field to make the magic happen, and on the next post, I will discuss the roles of an informatics nurse in greater detail.

Other topics you might be interested in:

What do informatics nurses do?
Interviewing tips for an informatics position.
Reader’s questions about nursing/clinical/health informatics

 

Questions? contact me through here

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+


25 Responses to What is Nursing Informatics?

  • DeVonna Bahta says:

    Dear Sir:
    Thank you for such helpful, straight forward information re: Nursing Informatics. I am not a degreed nurse but was a licensed practical nurse for 30 yrs. I have a BA in English and Communications. I love medicine and miss being a part of it. I have been thinking about the prospect of Nursing Informatics. Will they accept a person that is not an Registered Nurse. I have worked, Pediactrics, Geriactrics, Home health. I would like to be a part of this exciting growing field. Looking forward to your answer.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for reading the blog.

      To answer your question…Yes, you can be an LPN, and get a job in nursing informatics. The key is looking at the requirements of the job. Many jobs are advertised as clinical analyst and these jobs want some type of clinical experience. It could be lab experience, pharmacy experience, radiology experience or nursing experience. It doesn’t matter if you have an RN without a BSN, or an RN with a BSN, or even an LPN. As long as you have clinical experience then you can apply for the job.

      There are also jobs that specifically require the candidate to have a masters degree in nursing or even a bachelors in nursing, so just don’t apply to those jobs and you’ll be fine. But I have met many LPN’s in the field doing informatics, so you don’t have to be an RN, unless the job specifically demands it. But plenty of jobs out there that don’t require it.

  • Karen says:

    Thank you for having this blog. This has helped me a great deal in writing my career development plan for my Master’s in Nursing with a concentration in informatics

  • Jules says:

    How can an LPN with a BA in sociology & Anthropolgy get training in nursing informatics without an RN license. I have only seen programs for RN’s. Please let me know which school is willing to train an LPN.
    Thanks.

    • admin says:

      Unfortunately programs that offer an informatics program require the candidate to have a bachelors degree in nursing because the informatics program is usually a master’s program and any masters requires a bachelors degree, which translates to having your RN, BSN.
      Nonetheless, depending where you work, getting trained by your employer is the next logical step for LVN’s/LPN’s. I have met a good number of LVN’s/LPN’s working in this field, and all of them got trained by their employer. Be aware though, that the field is extremely competitive right now and that also means that just going to school and getting a degree won’t guarantee you a job because even though there are many jobs out there, employers are looking for candidates who have some type of experience in the field.

  • Rebecca says:

    Thank you for such detailed information about nursing informatics. As an RN,BSN I was wondering what type of computer courses would be most helpful to obtain before applying for the MSN program in informatics?

    • admin says:

      A database course always helps. But most informatics programs have a database course in their curriculum. I wouldn’t worry so much about the courses, but if you do want to get a head start, maybe look at the courses of the program you’re planning on enrolling, and then see what courses might be your weakest link, and then try to read up on those subjects. I know that in the past nurses have told me they had the most difficult time with their database class.

  • Sam says:

    I am getting my B.A in Health Adminstration on fall 2012 and I have CNA certificate. Can I do the nursing informatics? Or I can not?

    • admin says:

      No, you cannot do nursing informatics, unless you have a nursing degree already; and that’s because most nursing informatics program are master’s degrees and thus, they require a bachelors in nursing.

      • Samuel masresha says:

        Thanks but can I get certificate on information system and work in a hospital with my degree in the hospital or not?

        • admin says:

          I just realized…what CNA certification are you talking about? Certified nursing assistant or certified novell administrator?

          And yes, you could be hired.

          Why not? Anything is possible because most hospitals have an IT department, and within that department, there are different types of people employed.

          There are database administrators, network technicians, computer technicians, etc. Thus, depending on what skills you bring to the table and how good you are, you could be hired.

  • Leah says:

    Great info! I have been searching around the web for LPN-RN or BSN course and came across Nursing Informatics. I got excited because I have always thought of pursing my computer degree. I have been an LPN for almost 3 years, and was a CNA for 5 years. I acquired my bachelors degree in computer science in Philippines in 1996, and because of that, I had an opportunity to get a US visa. The problem is, I have not taken advantage of my degree. Meaning, I have not worked in the IT field since the move in 2000, and felt so outdated and my skills became obsolete. And that’s how I thought of switching into medical field. I also got accepted to an RN program in a junior college, but unable to finish. I still want to pursue my education but can only do it online.

    My questions are: What are my options in this field? How long does it take for me to get a degree in Informatics Nursing? Can I do everything online? And by the way, I am in my late 30’s, if that matters. 🙂

    • admin says:

      If i were you, given your background, I would draft up a resume, and apply for jobs. If you go the degree route, you first have to get your bachelors in nursing, and then get your masters in NI. That is the longest and most expensive route. Or you can get a bachelors in health informatics, but not sure how many years that will take you. I have replied via email for a more detailed response.

  • Nola Gokhale says:

    I am a registered nurse and have some knowledge about computer technician. Where would you be able to study nursing informatics in Australia. I live in Adelaide. How much scope does it have in Australia. I know in US it is a sort after line. Awaiting your response.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for reading the blog.

      Indeed, I’m based in the USA, and my knowledge about informatics in Australia is minimum. And yes, in the USA, many of us working in the field do not have a master’s degree in nursing informatics. We were hired and trained. It might be a good idea to write to your “local” nursing informatics association to see if they have any universities offering informatics as a study course: http://www.hisa.org.au/

    • Friend says:

      Hi Nola,
      You studied your 10th class in Kotak salesian school, Visakhapatnam ?

  • Ashley says:

    I am a RN and I love working with the computer charting systems. We just implemented a new one at the hospital I work at and its like second nature for me I understand it and love using computer charting. I was wondering if I need another degree to apply for a nursing informatics Job or is it good enough that I am an RN and have worked with multiple types of computer charting systems??

    • admin says:

      Hi, briefly, you don’t need any additional degrees other than nursing, to get a job in this field. If you’re an entry level candidate, and you go for a master’s degree, it gives you the chance to interview for a job, but it doesn’t guarantee you a job. However, getting experience in the field such as participating as a superuser in a project, most likely will get you an interview and a job as an entry level candidate. I’ve emailed a more detailed response.

  • Sandra says:

    So I recently graduated high school and I wanted to know exactly what would my major be considered as if Im enrolling and what exactly does a N.I. do?

    • admin says:

      I’m not really sure what the question is about the major, but I will assume you’re asking what major you need to have to enter nursing informatics?

      If so, you start with a nursing degree, which means a nursing major.

      And what do N.I. do? Did you read my post above your question? But briefly, N.I people configure software applications used by clinical staff at hospitals.

  • Pingback: Informatics nursing | Swankyaffairs

  • Mia says:

    I’m an LPN working on my RN ADN at this time. I have been a Minimum Data Set (MDS) coordinator for over 20 yrs and work on collecting/gathering medical data to input into a computer software to complete a comprehensive assessment of longterm care facility patients for compliance, reimbursement and improve patient care. Just wondering if you have any pointers as to how should my resume be updated to attract employers searching for informatic nurse? please e-mail me privately if you can. Thank you for your time in advance.

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