An online master's degree program in nursing informatics is designed to provide an education in healthcare information systems, nursing science and information technology. Nursing informatics is a typical area of specialization offered in a Master of Nursing or Master of Science in Nursing program.
While some programs can be completed solely through online courses, most combine distance learning with clinical work at healthcare facilities. These master's programs are designed for working nurses, and courses can usually be taken as the student's schedule permits.
Courses in a nursing informatics master's degree program show students how to combine data and technology to improve patient outcomes, lower costs and increase efficiency. The programs generally require three semesters of study for nurses who already hold bachelor's degrees in nursing.
Basic technical requirements for an online program include high-speed Internet connection and email access. Some schools require applicants to be registered nurses or hold a bachelor's degree in a nursing-related field.
The curriculum for an online master's program in nursing informatics focuses on nursing theories, practices, research processes and healthcare information systems. Introductory and advanced courses address health and nursing informatics, healthcare delivery systems, advanced nursing practice and healthcare management. Some programs include on-site seminars or clinical experiences.
Health and Nursing Informatics
Health informatics courses focus on clinical information systems. Information retrieval, organization and systems management are generally covered. Case studies identify the role of an informatics nurse or specialist.
Healthcare Delivery Systems
Topics addressed in healthcare delivery systems courses include healthcare practice, policy and healthcare services. Students research economic theories, regulation, policy development and costs related to healthcare and nursing.
Students learn basic and advanced nursing theories, research methods and clinical procedures. The role of nurses in many disciplines will be examined.
Healthcare structures and financial policies are the main focus of healthcare economics courses. Topics address insurance, medical resources, costs and healthcare services.
Completion of an online master's degree program in nursing informatics may qualify graduates to work as health or nurse informatics specialists or nursing managers in hospitals, clinics or healthcare organizations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported jobs for health services managers were expected to increase 17%, while registered nurses may anticipate 16% growth between 2014 and 2024. The 2015 median yearly salary for health services managers was estimated at $94,500 and registered nurses took home approximately $67,490 per year (www.bls.gov).
Graduates of an online master's degree program in nursing informatics can pursue voluntary professional certification for informatics nurses. This certification is offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and requires a bachelor's degree or higher in nursing, two years of nursing experience and at least 30 hours of education in informatics over the previous three years. Nurses must have experience in informatics nursing or have completed an approved graduate level program in informatics with 200 hours of clinical experience. Continuing education requirements must be met for certification renewal every five years.
Working nurses wanting to specialize in information technology may earn that specialization through a Master of Nursing or Master of Science in Nursing degree program. These programs may offer classes online, but often require in-person clinical experience.