Master's degree programs in nursing informatics are designed for registered nurses who want to break into this data-driven field in order to direct their careers toward improving the quality of healthcare decision making. These interdisciplinary programs integrate advanced studies in nursing science, computer science, statistics, and database management. Students are trained to collect and interpret nursing-related data and implement sound solutions.
In order to apply, students must hold either a bachelor's degree in nursing or an associate's degree in nursing with a bachelor's in another field. A current nursing license is also required. Incoming students should be comfortable with technology, since nursing informatics involves computer-based data analysis and safeguarding sensitive medical information.
Many master's degree programs in nursing informatics are offered with distance-learning or flexible scheduling options in order to accommodate working nurses. A practicum is required, but that can often be completed at the nurse's place of employment or another facility close to home. Most programs call for about 40 credit hours.
Master's Degree in Nursing Informatics
These programs combine classroom-based study of data and research with hands-on clinical training, in which theories and informatics applications can be tested. Common courses topics include the following:
- Nursing informatics utilization
- Issues in nursing research
- Healthcare-focused statistics
- Database management
- Legal and ethical issues in nursing informatics
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected job growth of 16% for all registered nurses between 2014 and 2024, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. Although the BLS did not publish data specific to nursing informatics specialists, it projected faster-than-average job growth of 15% for medical records and health information technicians in general from 2014-2024. As of May 2015, registered nurses earned a median annual salary of $67,490, while medical records and health information technicians earned a median annual salary of $37,110.
In addition to a nursing license, nursing informaticists are often certified through an organization such as HIMSS or the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Though voluntary, this certification demonstrates a commitment to standards of excellence in education and experience. Certification in nursing informatics typically requires the successful completion of a written exam, which can be taken upon earning a master's degree in nursing informatics and accumulating several years of work experience. A Ph.D. in nursing informatics is generally only pursued by individuals interested in teaching, often at the post-secondary level.
Overall, master's degree programs in nursing informatics provide registered nurses with advanced technological training so that they have the opportunity to direct their careers toward data analysis or pursue further educational opportunities.