Health Informatics Degree Programs

Nursing informatics is a sub-division of the larger health care informatics that precisely means the use of information technology (IT) in the health care sector.

This department of the nursing field enables registered nurses to integrate information science and knowledge in their daily activities of documentation, analysis and data collection and storage.

Nursing informatics also goes beyond record keeping covering other important aspects of nursing like diagnosis and treatment   with highly computerized equipment.  It also presents an easier way in which nurses monitor, manage and follow-up on their patients not to mention running distance treatment programs for chronically ill patients. In a nut shell, the use of IT in nursing has revolutionized the role of a nurse in health care delivery by replacing some time consuming manual practices of the nursing profession.

Currently, all nursing informatics degrees are offered at undergraduate levels sparingly, but more prevalent at graduate levels. Since it is a relatively new nursing program in the market, it is not a program you will find in just any nursing school, but with the expansion of data and analytics, it is certainly expanding to more universities each day.

Nurse informatics programs get candidates who have had a glimpse of working with data or in the nursing IT just with their entry level nursing degrees. This program also attracts a large number of information technology undergraduates wishing to shift careers into nursing as direct entry Master of Science students. Below is an elaborate overview of the different nursing informatics programs available and a list of featured programs that you can request more information from directly.

Types of Nursing Informatics Degrees

There are various types of degrees available in nursing informatics based on the level of nursing you are currently at and where you take the courses. Some of the more common informatics degrees you can expect to find include:

  • Nursing Informatics Master of Science in Nursing (RN): This program is for registered nurses who have an Associate Degree, diploma or a Bachelor degree that is non-nursing.
  • Nursing Informatics Master of Science in Nursing (BSN): This informatics program is for nurses who have earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. This course will also help prepare students for the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Informatics Nursing certification examination.
  • Nursing Informatics Graduate Certificate: This program is for nurses who have a BS or Masters Degree in nursing and want to add nursing informatics to their education.
  • Healthcare Informatics- Certificate for Post Baccalaureates: This introductory course provides healthcare professionals with a summary of informatics and technology as they relate to the healthcare industry. This course can be used as a continuing education course for recertification.

There may be many more informatics degrees and certificates available as each school calls their program by a different name. However, the information presented in these courses should be the same and prepare students for either further nursing informatics education in advanced classes or for certification testing.

Associate & Bachelor of Science in Nursing

These are the entry level nursing programs that enables students to become registered nurses (RN) and work in almost any nursing capacity as a generalist. You may be wishing to start as low as this before starting on the exclusive nursing informatics courses at graduate level. Anyway, no nurse will become a nurse informatist without earning the registered nurse status. It does not waste your time, it just gives you time to indulge lightly in the career and weigh your options of a future specialized career in health care informatics.

Graduate Degree Programs

Graduate level is where all the core and specialized nursing informatics training occurs. There are a number of entry options to choose from in the quest to acquire an exclusive nursing informatics education as explained herein:

Master of Science in Nursing Informatics
A Master of Science in nursing informatics is the first step in acquiring specialized and highly intensive health care informatics training.  Desirable candidates must be RN with a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree though some few schools may have a special MSN Bridge pathway accepting the associate degree RN as will be discussed later.

Right from the word go, students enrolled in this program engage in practical approaches of collecting, handling, analyzing and interpreting nursing data. This goes along with core courses applicable to all MSN programs and generally takes 2 academic years of full time graduate study to complete. At the end of the MSN program, students become eligible to take a national nursing informatics certification exam offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. There are specific credentialing criteria that must be met before students become eligible for this certification.

Apart from the traditional entry study method, a few variations of the MSN nursing informatics degrees are also available:

Direct-entry MSN in Nursing Informatics
This graduate nursing informatics option is offered to candidates that hold baccalaureate degrees from non-nursing fields. There are not so many such programs owing to the relatively new nature of the nursing informatics programs. Examples universities and colleges in the US offering this option in their schools of nursing include:

  • Case Western University
  • Vanderbilt University
  • University of San Diego
  • Thomas Jefferson University
  • Tennessee Technological University

Online MSN in Nursing Informatics
The online study option for technological nurses is gaining popularity. Many schools offer this as a study alternative to the traditional MSN track. Online MSN nursing informatics programs enable students to complete all or a higher percent of their coursework online. These programs usually have a similar curriculum with the traditional options and may take more or less the same time to complete when taken on a full time basis.

More examples of popular schools offering the online nursing informatics option include:

  • Kaplan University
  • Chamberlain College of Nursing
  • Walden University
  • Thomas Edison state College
  • University of South Alabama
  • Troy University

RN to MSN Nursing Informatics Degrees
Besides the traditional entry for BSN candidates, some few colleges offer the RN to MSN option. The study plan is for the RN to complete some bridge courses that exempts them from taking the full BSN program coursework. These bridging courses are usually double edged and can be used for both the MSN and BSN curriculum requirements. Once these courses are completed, students can become matriculated in the traditional MSN class.

Post MSN Certificates in Nursing Informatics
Most schools offering any of the above mentioned nursing informatics option also offer the Post-MSN nursing certificate program. They are designed to enable generalist MSN-prepared students become certified in this field. It is also ideal for MSN graduates with other certification seeking an additional national certification in nursing informatics.

Doctorate Nursing Informatics Programs
These programs are pursued by students that wish to earn a terminal degree in the field of health care informatics. The PhD in nursing informatics is often offered exclusively for MSN prepared students while the Doctor of Nursing Practice –nurse informatics can be offered to both BSN and MSN prepared students. However only a very tiny fractions of doctorate nursing informatics exist in the US. Instead, students can take the wide-scoped health informatics doctorates or the post-doctoral nursing informatics fellowships.

Nurse Informatics Career Information

The salary for nursing informatics is higher than traditional nursing positions as it involves a technology piece.  They provide a service with equivalent responsibilities, that of a data analyst but with the advantage of their clinical experience.  They are also one of the highest paying IT positions among the others for each state due to the lack of qualified individuals in this area.  Because of this shortage, hospitals and companies are willing to pay a higher salary to obtain and retain these individuals.

Individuals who work in private health care organizations tend to receive a higher salary than those who work in a hospital settings.  State to state, the nursing informatics salary differs greatly with a $57,000 difference between the lowest and highest.  In Kentucky, which is the low end of the salary spectrum, the average is around $61,000.  But on the higher end, in New Mexico, the average is around $118,000.  These are just averages, so you can find positions within each state that are in that range.

Quality health care is dependent on how data is handled and processed in the health care process.  To help improve the process of caring for all patients, the field of nursing informatics combines information management properly with the nursing processes and practices. Nursing informatics provides an important missing piece in quality healthcare that combines nurses’ processes with systematic implementation.

Why Nursing Informatics?

Nurses earn a decent living; however, it never hurts one’s career to continue with education and increase your salary.  With nursing informatics, you will be helping to improve the health care system.

Nurse Informatics Salary within Different Industries

The information databases within the health care system differ between hospitals and clinics. As each of these databases contain different information, your salary will also vary depending on department. For instance, the Home Health industry will average $41,415 a year in the informatics department. Since most of the work here is outsourced or not done within the business, there is less information needed. Some of the higher paying salaries are the Non-Provider Settings as they will require more information on the basis of the patients and business aspect. With each of these also comes the variety of degrees, the better salary you are seeking the higher degree you will require.

Why Return to School for Nursing Informatics
The decision to continue your education and go back to school is not always an easy one, but it is one worth considering.  Before deciding upon which school to continue your education with, consider its reputation, the programs available for nursing informatics and make sure that the school is accredited.

Going back to school or continuing your education means an increase in income for you and your family.  It is also a chance to further your education so that you can help to continue making beneficial improvements to the health care system:

  • Education
  • Better Opportunities
  • Greater Pay
  • Secure Financial Freedom

Another responsibility of nursing informatics is to provide education to other health care workers.  They provide education to both clients and users of the systems that are implemented.  This step will complete their deployment of the systems they have put in place. Furthering education will have more than one benefit for you and your family. The further you go, the more money and better positions you will attain.

When looking at salaries for this type of medical job, looking at several aspects will be your best bet. Where you live and what type of degree you are ultimately attaining make all the difference of you being on the top or bottom of the totem pole.

There are many different specialty fields in nursing that you can choose when you start nursing school. Choosing your specialty early in your school career allows you to customize your courses and include necessary classes. If you choose nursing informatics education courses you will be prepared to enter this field when you graduate rather than having to go back and take more courses.

A Nurse informatics specialist, also known as a nurse informaticists, obtains special educational preparation that enables them to implement advanced technology that will be used to interpret, coordinate, and communicate important patient medical information in hospitals, community clinics, nursing and long-term care facilities private physicians offices, and other types of healthcare settings.

Nurse informatics specialists typically work out of the information technology (IT) department of health care facilities and possess skills in three primary areas: computer science and programming, information technology, and nursing practice. Prior nursing experience is important since this background enables nurse informatics specialists to be knowledgeable with regard to the patient health care data that nurses most frequently need to access. This knowledge further helps nurse informatics specialists to develop and implement the appropriate computer system, software program, tools, and procedures so that nurses may capture and mange all needed medical information for each patient. Nurse informatics specialists may also make specific suggestions for computer systems changes that will foster improved communication of patient medical history among care providers thereby fostering improved patient outcomes.

A nurse informatics specialist may work in administrative roles within healthcare facilities and contribute to the decision-making process with regard to the introduction of new technology into the facility. A significant number of nursing informatics specialists hold high-paying positions with healthcare-based technology vendors, suppliers, and consulting firms. Still other nurse informatics specialists focus on nurse education and training regarding the effective use of technology to gather pertinent patient information.

Typical jobs held by nurse informatic specialists include:

  • Nurse programmers who write computer code or modify computer programs used by staff nurses and physicians and other healthcare provders.
  • Nurse informatics managers who select and manager computer systems.
  • Nurse consultants who confer with other nurses to identify computer system needs.
  • Nurse educators who training nurses in the use and implementation of new computer systems.
  • Nurse vendor consultants who demonstrate computer systems and help with its implementation in the facility.

Nurse Informatics Specialist Career Outlook

The career prospects for nurses are very bright, and for those with advanced training such as a nurse informatics specialist, the demand is especially high. As per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth rate of nurses is anticipated to be 22 percent through 2018, much faster than the rate for most other occupations. For nurse specialists the demand in anticipated to be closer to 30 percent.

Continuing improvement and advances in health care technology will result in increased demand for those nurses who can participate in computer system development and implementation within health care settings.  However, because nursing informatics is a highly specialized career, it may be a challenge to identify new opportunities in this field.

Nursing informatics Education Requirements and Training

A Nursing informatics specialist would generally be registered nurse (RN) with significant clinical experience, along with a background in computers and information technology.

To become an RN you will need to graduate from nursing school approved by your State Board of Nursing and pass a national licensing examination for licensure of register nurses (NCLEX-RN) administered by the National Council of the State Boards of Nursing (NCSNS).

The National League of Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as official accreditation agencies of nursing education programs. The NLNAC accredits diploma, associates, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate nursing programs while the CCNE only accredits bachelor and graduate programs.

In general you must accrue significant clinical experience (minimum of two years in most cases) as a nurse before you may transition into the career of nurse informatics specialist. Once you have garnered sufficient professional experience and have worked in the field of nursing informatics for a period of time you may apply to become certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) by passing a specialty computer-based examination. Upon passing this examination you will be awarded the RN–BC (Board Certified) (Nurse Informatics Specialist).

Eligibility Criteria for the nurse informatics exam:

All eligibility criteria must have been met before applying to take the examination.

  • Hold a current unrestricted RN license in a state or territory of the United States or the recognized equivalent from another country.
  • Possess a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN) or degree in related field.
  • Satisfactory completion of a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education in the field of nurse informatics within the past three years.
  • As per the ANCC, meet one of the following experience

–    Have a practiced minimum of 2,000 hours in informatics nursing within the last three years
–    Have practiced a minimum of 1,000 hours in informatics nursing in the last three years and completed a minimum of 12 semester hours of academic credit in informatics courses which are a part of a graduate level informatics nursing program
–    Have completed a graduate program in nursing informatics containing a minimum of 200 hours of faculty supervised practicum in informatics

Are Nursing Informatics Careers in Demand?
Careers in nursing informatics are relatively new and emerging. This is because nursing informatics has not really developed and it is only beginning to take shape. This can be explained by the fact only MSN-informatics degree programs are available in this category and only taken by nurses who wish to specialize.

More health care institutions are considering having dedicated information managers and controllers and as such, nursing informaticists are getting high demand. It is an exciting career opportunity for nurses who want to enjoy monopoly before the market becomes too flooded.

What Careers Can I Have With a Nursing Informatics Degree?

With your certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Centre, it is time to land that dream career. Regardless of where you get your employment from, the work of nurse informaticists revolves around healthcare IT, healthcare information systems, and database management among others.

The largest employers of nurse informaticists are major hospitals and healthcare providers. At these hospitals, nurse informaticists work as a team to affect the smooth running and maintenance of all healthcare related information. As part of the larger team of hospital-based nurse informaticists, you can assume career roles as:

  • Clinical Informatics Coordinator

This career puts you at a senior position in the nursing profession. It involves coordination of all health care information systems from data collection and storage to database design and implementation. The clinical informatics coordinator nurse has the special supervisory role to ensure all health care information systems tasks are conducted as set out.

  • Chief Nursing Informatics Officer

This career gives a nurse the mandate to inspect and verify all healthcare data collected by junior medical staff. The nurse informatics officer ensures data is accurate before it is stored for future reference or for policy making purposes. It is the role that ensures compliance by all other nursing informaticists.

  • System Analyst Nurse

The system analyst nurse is there to help the health care management team with interpretation of medical data collected. The work scope also entails checking the health care information systems for errors or possible tampering of stored data. The system analyst nurse can be called upon to assist in policy making using information inherent from the data collected.

  • Systems Administrator

This informaticists nurse is the one solely responsible for inputting data collected from all medical departments in the hospital. They are responsible for transferring data from doctors’ notes, voice recognition devices or handheld devices into an electronic form.

  • Nurse IT Training manager

Nurses with Masters of Science in nursing informatics can assume the role of on-job-training to other nurses. This training is only meant to enable other registered nurses and medical staff use digitized hospital technology. They train other nurses on simple tasks like using voice recognition devices, PDAs and other medical equipment that require IT knowledge.

Apart from those hospital based nurse informaticists’ careers, there are other fields where informatics nurses fit quite well. Such include:

Consumer Health Care Informatics Nurse

These nurse specialists serve the changing focus of health informatics roles from normal data collection, information storages and management to consumer oriented needs. Nurses employed in this capacity have a role of delivering healthcare information via electronics means and the World Wide Web to consumers.

They mainly work in internet-based health resource centers where they provide reliable disease management strategies, health promotion and awareness campaigns. They are also involved in conducting online/ web based research on disease preferences, rates of increase by designing web-form questioners to visitors who use the internet.

In addition to the above tasks, consumer nurse informatics specialists also do telemedicine and tele-monitoring. The former involves distance patient diagnosis and drug prescription while the latter involves monitoring patients’ data and reporting the same to the doctors e.g. blood sugar levels.

Education Health Informatics Nurses

This can be referred to as virtual tutors or internet tutors. They help post important nursing facts and nursing web courses to the internet. Such is of great help when it comes to nursing programs that are offered online. Educator informatics nurses help synchronize online lectures, groups works and webinars for online nurse training purposes.

If you have decided that you are ready to pursue an advanced degree in nursing and that informatics is the field you are going to specialize in then you need to find graduate programs for nursing informatics. This new field of nursing combines health care and technology to create and manage health information systems that are used by healthcare professionals every day.

The graduate program you choose for your nursing informatics education should have a proven reputation of graduating successful nurses in the informatics field. Once a student graduates, they should be trained and ready for the following:

  • Using technology to provide improvements to health;
  • Enhance and add to the data, information and knowledge used in the healthcare field;
  • Gain and understanding of and be able to explain what is required for health information systems;
  • Design health information systems that are robust. Implement and evaluate them to ensure they work up to standards.

Once you graduate from your chosen program and are able to successfully demonstrate the skills above you are well on your way to a successful career in informatics.

Hospitals use more information technology now than ever before, for all aspects of patient care. There has even been call for hospitals and clinics to switch to fully computerized records, so it behooves practicing nurses to pursue a nursing informatics certification. Nursing informatics is the practice of incorporating technology into nursing.

This can help with:

–        Communicating with other healthcare professionals, which is especially helpful for patients that require long hospital stays, and help from many different staff members.
–        Documenting doctors’ orders, and nurses’ subsequent care plans.
–        Documenting changes in a patient’s condition.
–        Avoiding the problems inherent in hand-written charts, like sloppy handwriting, or smudged or faded ink.
–        Facilitating patients’ moves to different areas of a facility, like from Intensive Care Units to private rooms.
–        Keeping track of patients within the hospital.

Computers can help nurses and doctors with every step of a patient’s care, but it takes special training in order to use all of that technology effectively. Information systems take a long time to develop, and they aren’t perfected in one shot- only nursing informatics specialists can help medical facilities create the tools they need.

What Nursing Informatics Specialists Do
Nursing informatics specialists work on creating technological solutions to the problems that large medical facilities face, like maintaining patient records, and efficiently communicating patient records and other data between medical departments. A nursing informatics specialist introduces a new record keeping system to a team of nurses, collects information from them, calibrates the system to meet their needs, and then continually collects data about how efficiently the system is working. In this way, these specialists help improve how well healthcare departments function.

How to Get Nursing Informatics Certification
There are a couple of ways to get nursing informatics certification- a post-graduate certificate, or a master’s degree in health informatics. Health informatics may not always be offered as a master’s program by all colleges, so students interested in pursuing it should contact their state’s Board of Nursing to see which schools in their area, if any, have the program available. If it is not, nurses can still take classes to prepare themselves for the nursing informatics exam.

In order to qualify to take the certification exam for nursing informatics, nurses must be registered nurses with bachelors’ degrees or better, two years of full-time clinical employment under their belts, and at least thirty hours’ worth of a nursing informatics course. They must also have at least 2,000 hours in the informatics field, or an advanced degree in health informatics. After passing the nursing informatics exam, nurses’ certifications are good for three years. If they meet specific employment and continuing education criteria, they may renew their certifications for a fee. If they do not, they may retake the exam.

Why Nursing Informatics Certification is a Good Idea

More and more hospitals, clinics, mental health facilities, and nursing homes are moving over to fully computerized systems. Older systems allow too much room for human error, including things like mistaking 4 times a day for 9 times a day on dosage schedules, which can result in severely compromised patient care. So, having this certification can help nurses improve their standard of patient care, and reduce the number of patients that are lost to human errors.

Medical facilities need properly trained, qualified nursing staff that are able to successfully mesh traditional nursing with modern information technology. Not only will nurses with nursing informatics certification be able to improve their facilities’ patient outcomes, they will be much more marketable to medical facilities in general than nurses without these skills.

The practice of nursing has evolved considerably over the years. It’s estimated that problems like sloppy handwriting kill more than seven thousand patients every year, and things like health informatics can help avoid negative patient outcomes like that. With a nursing informatics certification, you will be in a position to help healthcare centers implement, perfect, and use new technologies to improve their efficiency, and help them serve their patients better.

When nursing meets information science, nursing informatics (NI) as a career is born.

Nursing informatics is a sub-specialty of the larger Health/ Biomedical informatics. The program tries to integrate nursing practice with the latest development of information technology. Precisely, informatics in the health care field aims at improving ways of collecting, storing, analyzing and interpreting data.

It is also aims at improving care delivery of patients by use of high technology methods of diagnosis, treatment and therapy.  The profession also brings on board means in which technological advances can be customized to benefit the nursing field. This eases patient care, reduces manual work and provides efficient record keeping, tracking and retrieval.

Skills and Knowledge Needed
During the course of informatics classes and other education vessels that prepare you to work in the field of informatics, you will learn many different skills and combine some knowledge that you might not have considered compatible. Some of the tools that you will learn to use include:

  • Medical terminology
  • Clinical regulations and guidelines
  • Communication systems and information using computers
  • Computer skills

Many nurses like to work in specialized field, such as those shown above. As technology quickly integrates itself into the medical field, nursing informatics education is becoming a popular field that provides a valuable service to many people.  If you like to work with computers and you want to combine that with your desire to help people as a nurse, nursing informatics is the place you need to be.

Nurse Informatics Programs for Consideration

If you are ready to begin your education in nursing informatics, there are many options available, some of which are outlined below to get you started.

Duke University, a well-known medical teaching school has a few different options for informatics that should appeal to a broad spectrum of nurses. Nurses who have a BS or even non-nurses with a BS and experience in healthcare can take the 18-credit certificate course. There is also a Masters in Science degree that is a two-year course and includes nursing informatics classes. Duke’s distance based program is both synchronous and asynchronous to allow you more freedom with your scheduling options. Students are only required to appear on campus for three days each semester.

Walden University offers an online Master of Science in Nursing program that incorporates nursing informatics into the coursework. Walden offers two different tracks for nurses to choose from based on whether or not they have a BS or simply have an Associate Degree or diploma and their RN certificate.

The University of Maryland has both campus based and online programs that include courses in informatics. The university offers an online graduate program that includes a Nursing Informatics Master Degree or a Post Master’s Specialty Degree. On-campus students can receive informatics education through the Department of Organizational Systems and Adult Health as a Master’s Specialty degree. There are also some core classes that in informatics that are included as part of the BS in nursing to introduce students to the field and make them aware of career options available.

Popular Nursing Informatics Graduate Programs

There are many graduate programs that focus on nursing informatics that you can select from when you decide you are ready to advance your nursing career or take it in a completely new direction. An overview of some of the graduate school programs that offer informatics are outlined below to help you make an informed decision regarding your education.

Grand Canyon University: This online university offers an MS in Nursing-Health Care Informatics. This program teaches the integration of healthcare and the IT world to facilitate such tasks as automating clinical care, training healthcare employees in the use of electronic data systems, collecting data and much more. Graduates may go on to become systems analysts, administrators or executives in many healthcare facilities.

American Sentinel University: This is another online university that offers a Master of Science in Nursing – Nursing Informatics. This accredited school prepares graduates to become managers of healthcare data and administrative systems and managing information systems. This program consists of 36 hours of coursework; however you may be able to transfer up to 18 hours from qualified previous graduate studies. You should speak with an advisor if you think you have courses that might qualify.

Excelsior College: Excelsior is a web-based university that offers a Master of Science in Nursing Certificate in Health Care Informatics. This course is NLNAC accredited and is the ideal course for not only registered nurses who are interested in informatics but also for IT specialists, pharmacists and others who work in the healthcare industry and want to stay abreast of the latest technological advances.

Courses Covered in Informatics

The courses that are typically part of graduate programs in informatics are basically the same no matter where the classes are taken; however, they may have different names. Nursing informatics classes in a graduate program should prepare the student to take the certification exam. Some of the common informatics courses include:

  • Generating Knowledge in Health Care Using Technology Solutions
  • Health Information Exchange Standards, Models and Methods
  • Systems Analysis and Design
  • Project Management in Information Technology
  • Database Systems used in Healthcare
  • Nursing Informatics Concepts
  • Practicum in Nursing Informatics (hands on work)

These classes are listed in the order in which they should be taken. It is easy to notice that the presence of technology is heavy in these classes. Nurses who are taking informatics courses have the health care knowledge they need, what they are having to add to this knowledge is the technology side and then learn how the two can work together to improve healthcare.

As you browse the available graduate programs for nursing informatics you should make sure that the ones you focus on are accredited and prepare you for the certification exam. Adding a Master’s Degree in Science – Health Care Informatics is simple with the vast number of online colleges offering the courses for graduate students.

PhD in Nursing Informatics- A Rare Gem

Well, there are hundreds of graduate level master of science in nursing informatics; you may not have to search so much. The PhD in nursing with a research focus area in informatics could just be referred to as a gem; hard to find in the country and even internationally. It can be concluded that maybe the NI field is relatively very novel and schools are yet to develop curriculum for it. This could also be taken to mean that may be, most of the things required for a nursing informatics career are comprehensively covered in the Master of Science in nursing informatics. In a nut shell, a PhD in nursing informatics is no doubt one of the rarest nursing programs to find in the program listing of US schools.

The University of Maryland is currently the only university in the US offering the PhD in nursing informatics degree.  It is also among the pioneer universities in the US that developed the initial teaching curriculum for the now widespread Master of Science in NI.

The university, based in Baltimore offers this as both a doctor of nursing practice and doctor of philosophy in nursing dedicated research subject.  It is offered in full time and part time options. University of Maryland also boasts to have the degree program as an online PhD in nursing informatics, a factor that enables students to take courses in a distance and online mode. In this view, all nursing informatics courses are taken online while the core graduate courses can be completed in either online or campus-based formats.

Students are able to have practicum sessions in their local areas in a mutually agreed location with their supervisors. The program outcomes and objective is to prepare nurse scholars and leaders in computer-based information systems in the health care, design and conceptualization of technology systems for end user training and strategies.

Nursing Informatics Vs Health Informatics

Being the only school having this track, there is an obvious unbelievable number of applications sent to the school each year which ultimately lowers the chances of landing a spot.  Given such a condition and the numerous passionate people in getting terminal studies in informatics, it makes great sense for students to seek PhD programs with Health/Biomedical informatics as a research area. After all nursing informatics is just a sub-specialty of the aforementioned informatics programs.

Diversification is the only way of maximizing on entering the healthcare with a terminal degree in this area. A number of universities offer this broader option of medical, biomedical or health informatics (different names, same concept) including:

  • University of Texas Houston
  • University of Minnesota
  • The University of Iowa
  • University if Illinois at Chicago
  • University of Washington
  • John Hopkins University

Nursing Informatics Fellowships

Students wishing to get novel ideas, skills, and expertise in the health informatics field can take advantage of the post-doctoral nursing informatics fellowships.  These are quite common unlike the PhD. They are founded by research institutions, the government among other organizations.  To participate in these fellowships, students must have recently earned at least a terminal degree in a health-related field or a Master of Science degree in nursing and related areas.

Fellows in nursing informatics fellowship programs are most likely to benefit from an appointment salary, stipends, and (or) full sponsorship awards. Popular health informatics fellowships are available from:

  • Department of Veteran Affairs (VA Medical Informatics Fellowship Program)
  • John Hopkins University
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (through many universities)
  • Stanford University

The Masters degree in nursing informatics equips a registered nurse with computer intelligence skills that are most relevant for use in the health care system. Nurse informaticists get to know how to relate computer science, information technology and other computer skills to the needs of the medical field. The Masters Degree in Nursing Informatics prepares the advanced practice nurse to work in management of healthcare information, data collection, storage and analysis for future reference.

Nursing Informatics Admissions & Program Detail

Prerequisites for Admission for a Masters Degree in Nursing Informatics

Just like other masters degree programs in nursing, registered nurses who wish to become nurse informaticist must have completed their bachelor of science in nursing degree. Some nursing schools also require that the nurse have some nursing experience before admission.  It is also quite common for nursing schools to demand for satisfactory GPA scores.

Students with non-nursing bachelor degrees are also eligible for the masters in nursing informatics program. However, such students must be aware that they are expected to take a longer duration of study as compared to advancing RNs; who only take two years.

Naturally, nurses may decide to enroll to this program due to their personal interests in the computing world and information technology. Health informatics is a challenging field, hence requires an individual who is keen and has a personal appeal in computing.

Program Course Work for Masters in Health Informatics

A master’s degree in health informatics is like any other nurse specialty training program. Student nurses cover core advanced nursing courses in addition to concentration in informatics. The courses that concentrate in nursing informatics training include:

  • Introductory Courses to Health Care Informatics

These are the beginner courses that help introduce the nurse student to basic computer usage. It is a very elementary level of study but an important one in building a good nursing informatics foundation. Skills taught at this point include basic computer packages and their relevance to health care informatics.

  • Information Technology in The Medical Field

In this bracket, student nurse trainees are trained on the information technology skills applicable to the health care field.  Students are introduced to electronic methods of collecting, storing and transmitting health care data. Students are also trained on safe methods of storing patient records while ensuring its confidentiality.

Students are also introduced to simple, accurate and efficient methods of colleting patient records using technical devices like PDAs, computers and voice recognition devices. Advantages of using such electronic data collection methods are observed when it comes to evaluating and analyzing such data for policy making purposes.

  • Information System Database Design

A master degree in nursing informatics is not complete if students do not get the skills of developing implementable database management systems. For most nursing schools, this is usually part of the masters’ project for nurse informatics students. Nurses must attain the capacity of designing healthcare-tailored database management systems.

  • Consumer Health Care Informatics

For the sake of the health care consumers, informatics nurses are obliged to learn easy methods of keeping patient registration records, drug dispensation and ordering. For this part, nurses are trained on the use of computerized point of sale software to ease the process of manual stock taking, medical billing and cash flow monitoring in the hospital setting.

This part of the master’s degree in nursing informatics also goes beyond the scope of the hospital practice. Nurse informaticists have the capacity to develop online training tool for nursing students. They can be bestowed with the skills to configure online nursing learning modes like webinars, audio conferencing among others.

Consumer health informaticist nurses also have the responsibility of handling patient tele-monitoring and telemedicine; processes that involves online patient diagnosis, medical prescription and patent-discharge follow-up. They are also trained to become nurse educators whereby, they can have the mandate of presenting health information through the internet to targeted patient groups.

  • Evaluation, Maintenance and Assessment of Health Information Systems

These courses require the nurse students to have excellent statistical and analytical skills. The courses under this bracket involve a lot of technicality as nurses are expected to learn system repairs and maintenance.  Students must also get trained on basic troubleshooting and identification of faulty information systems.

In addition to the master degree in nursing informatics, nurses can also take post masters certificate programs in nursing informatics. It is the better option for nurses who wish to take continuing education in this health care field.

A Nursing informatics specialist blends technology with nursing and typically work in the information systems departments of healthcare settings. This is a great option for experienced nurses who wish to utilize their nursing knowledge to assist healthcare facilities of all types develop and impellent advanced technology.

Before you find out what nursing informatics education requirements and specialist training involve, let me first show you what the career entails.

Initial Application for the Certification exam

You may apply online at www using the “Apply Online” link. You can also complete the PDF version of the application, save, print and mail it to:

ANCC Specialty Examination Applications, P.O. Box 505072, St. Louis, MO 63150-5072. Be sure you sign the form before sending.

Transcripts must also be submitted with your application or it will be considered incomplete

You will have a 90-day window from when you receive your authorization to test letter (ATT) from the ANCC to register for and take the exam with Prometric, the test vendor contracted by ANCC. Prometric maintains test centers throughout the country.

The test is a multiple choice and computer-based meaning that you can schedule your test throughout the year but best to make an appointment as early as possible to ensure the date, time, and location of your choice.

The fee to take the test is $270. for members of the American Nurses Association (ANA) and $395. for non-members.

Nursing informatics blends nursing theory and practice with computer science and information technology.  Nurse informatics specialists identify, collect and manage patient information to accurately disseminate patient information in support of treatment planning, education, research and the development of nursing knowledge.

Admission Requirements to Nurse Informatics Programs

While specific admissions criteria will vary from school-to-school, the following list includes the most common requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree with minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA from an undergraduate institution that has been accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Education or National League for Nursing Accrediting Committee.
  • Minimum of two years work experience in an area related to health informatics, such as nursing, related healthcare career or health information managers.
  • Official transcripts from all undergraduate institutions attended.
  • Resume/Curriculum vita highlighting academic and work experience
  • Personal statement of career goals
  • Two to three letters of recommendation from professors or supervisors.
  • Interview with admission committee to determine motivation and commitment.
  • Scores form the Graduate record Examination (GRE) or Millers Analogy Test (MAT) may be required. This is primarily the case for those applicants who present less  than a 3.0 GPA from their bachelor’s degree program.

Accreditation of Nurse Informatics Programs
It is important to attend a nursing informatics program that has obtained accreditation by one of two agencies: the National League of Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The U.S. Department of Education has approved each agency as an official accreditation body for nursing education in the United States.  Accreditation is important as it attests to the quality of education you will receive. In addition, only accredited schools are eligible to provide federally-based student aid whether grants, scholarships, or loans.

Nurse Informatics Program Curriculum
Students who attend on a full time basis can expect to complete the program in about eighteen to twenty four months. There are also accelerated programs that will allow you to complete the program sooner by taking a heavier course load each semester and attending during the summer session. Programs may also be taken on a part time basis for working nurses which extends the time necessary to finish by one or two years.

Core coursework of most nurse informatics programs include such subjects as research methodology and statistics, health policy planning, medical ethics, community health and public nursing, nursing informatics, as well as management principles in nursing. Once core coursework is completed students will then take classes in their specialty area. A sample Nurse Informatics curriculum is provided below.

Sample Master in Nurse Informatics Curriculum

Introduction to Health Informatics
Networks and Internet Applications for Health Providers
Web Development for Healthcare Applications
Desktop maintenance
Continuous Quality Improvement
Consumer Healthcare Informatics
Informatics of Clinical Practice
Clinical Informatics Practicum I and II
Project Management

Tuition and Financial Aid
Tuition costs depend on whether you attend an in-state school, out-of-state school or private university. Students who choose an in-state school will pay less tuition than those who enroll in an out-of state program. The average cost to attend in-state school is approximately $12,000 while out-of-state tuition is about $15,000. Tuition costs at private colleges and universities can exceed $60,000.  Because online schools have reduced overhead in terms of building costs, etc. they tend to have reduced tuition. Aside from tuition, related school expenses include textbooks, supplies (e.g. uniforms), lab fees, commuting expenses, as well as Internet usage (especially if you will be attending an online program).

Don’t allow tuition costs to steer you from enrolling in the program of your choice. There are a variety of  financial aid options available to nursing students in the form of scholarships, grants, and student loans. The first step in applying for financial assistance is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your eligibility for each type of aid.

Working nurses may also be eligible for tuition reimbursement from their facility provided they agree to remain with the employer for a certain period of time after graduation.  Students may be eligible for additional assistance through a variety of federally-based programs designed especially for nurses. Below is a  sample of assistance offered through the Bureau of Health Professions:*

Nurse Loan Repayment and Scholarship Programs support current students and new graduate students. Programs include:

Loan Repayment: This program repays up to 85% of loans taken during nursing study. In return you will need to work in a healthcare facility or geographic location which is experiencing a critical shortage of nurses for a minimum, or serve as a faculty member for at least three years. 

Scholarship: Scholarships are available to full time nursing students. Upon graduation, recipients are required to work in a healthcare facility facing a critical shortage area for a minimum of two years.

The Faculty Loan Repayment Program provides loan forgiveness for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds who agree to work as faculty at eligible health professions schools for no less than two years.

Accredited Master’s Programs

Nursing Informatics Masters Programs: Campus-based

DeSales University
Georgia College and State University
Loyola University-Chicago
New York University
Old Dominion University
Rush University
Tennessee State University
University of Colorado-Denver
University of Utah
Vanderbilt University

Online Nursing Informatics Masters Programs
Excelsior College
Kaplan University
Oakland University
University of Maryland-College Park
University of North Dakota