Nursing informatics involves the integration of healthcare with the social sciences, information science and computer technology in order to improve and advance the quality of healthcare delivery. A master's degree program in nursing informatics can help students understand how information systems are designed and used in medical facilities. Similarly a graduate certificate can help students learn how to use information systems and technology to provide a better healthcare experience for both medical staff and patients.
Most master's degree programs in nursing informatics require incoming students to have a bachelor's degree in nursing or a related field. Some of these degree programs are offered online. Most master's degrees take two years to earn, while graduate certificate programs take a single year. Both typically require the completion of internships and clinical rotations.
Master's Program in Nursing Informatics
In a Master's degree program, students learn how to manage information systems, identify technical requirements and determine the effectiveness of information systems. The curriculum of a nursing informatics program usually includes an internship, which can allow students to work in the field of informatics to gain practical experience.
Students studying nursing informatics typically learn about new technologies in the healthcare field, organizational techniques and system design. Topics covered in the classroom portion of the program could include:
- Management information systems
- Healthcare ethics and laws
- Information system analysis
- Database design
- Information security techniques and tools
- Integration of nursing information systems
Graduate Certificates in Nursing Informatics
Students in a graduate certificate program learn how to create and implement information systems that are efficient and effective within a healthcare environment. Programs might include a practicum or allow students to apply work in the field toward program requirements. Though some programs accept graduates of bachelor's degree programs in nursing, most are offered as post-master's programs.
The curriculum of a certificate program usually includes courses that introduce students to nursing informatics and general healthcare laws and ethics. Common course topics include:
- Nursing information systems assessment
- Information system design
- System project management
- Maintenance of information systems
- Data mining and warehousing
Popular Career Options
Nursing informatics graduates can qualify to work in clinical, consumer health, educational and research settings, among others. Nurses who complete a nursing informatics program are prepared to work in both nursing and information technology. Possible job titles include:
- Informatics coordinator
- Chief nursing informatics officer
- Public health informatics specialist
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were over 2.7 million registered nursing jobs in 2014, with a projected 16% growth from 2014-2024(www.bls.gov). In January of 2016, PayScale.com reported that most nursing informatics specialists earned an annual median salary of $75,196.
To practice as a nurse, individuals must complete an accredited nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination as well as satisfy any additional state regulations. There are no special requirements beyond licensing to work in informatics, but individuals could consider earning voluntary credentials specific to nursing and information technology, such as those offered through the National League for Nursing or the American Nurse Credentialing Center.
Registered nurses interested in the application of technology and information systems in nursing can advance their career by completing a master's degree or a graduate certificate in nursing informatics. Graduates of these programs may enter a career as an informatics coordinator, chief nursing informatics officer or public health informatics specialist.