Nursing Informatics Degree Programs
Read about graduate-level training and education in nursing informatics. Learn about program prerequisites, courses, practical experience and career prospects, as well as licensing requirements for nurses.
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. Training in nursing informatics is usually offered in master's degree and graduate certificate programs, and usually includes an internship or clinical rotation for hands-on practice. Some programs are offered online. Graduates of nursing informatics programs can work as specialists who handle electronic medical records and information systems in a variety of settings, including hospitals and public health organizations.
Master's Degree in Nursing Informatics
A master's degree program in nursing informatics can help students understand how information systems are designed and used in medical facilities. They can learn how to manage those 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. Some schools offer courses fully or partially online, and internships can be completed at a local site.
Entrance into a master's degree program usually requires students to hold a bachelor's degree in nursing. Some schools allow students to enter the program if they have at least an associate degree in nursing with a bachelor's degree in another field. Programs that include fieldwork or internships commonly require students submit to a background check.
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
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
Certificate in Nursing Informatics
A certificate program in nursing informatics can help students learn how to use information systems and technology to provide a better healthcare experience for both medical staff and patients. Students can learn how to create and implement information systems that are efficient and effective within a healthcare environment. Certificate programs generally take a year or less to complete, and some schools offer online learning. 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
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were over 2.6 million nursing jobs in 2010, with a projected 22% growth from 2008-2018 (www.bls.gov). Government initiatives offer medical practitioners incentives for switching medical records to an electronic form, which could improve opportunities for nursing informatics professionals. In February 2012, PayScale.com reported that most nursing informatics specialists earned from $51,289-$96,802 annually after bonuses.
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.
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