Nurse Informaticist: Career, Education & Salary
Nursing Colleges Search
The intersection of nursing expertise and information technology skills makes nurse informaticists uniquely positioned to contribute to the evolving healthcare landscape. A nurse informaticist title encompasses a wide range of activities aimed at leveraging technology to enhance healthcare delivery, improve patient outcomes, and drive innovation in nursing informatics.
A nurse informaticist is a specialized healthcare professional who combines nursing science, computer science, and information technology to improve the management and communication of nursing data. These professionals bridge the gap between nursing practice and information systems in healthcare organizations. They implement and manage healthcare information systems, ensuring big data integration into nursing workflows to enhance patient care outcomes, safety, and efficiency.
Nurse informaticists also contribute to designing and developing technologies tailored to meet the needs of nurses and improve nursing practice. They collaborate with interdisciplinary teams to identify opportunities for innovation and implement solutions that support evidence-based nursing. With their clinical expertise, knowledge of healthcare processes, and technological proficiency, nurse informaticists train and educate healthcare professionals on system use, ensure proper data collection and analysis, and drive quality improvement initiatives.
The demand for nurse informaticists will grow significantly in the coming years. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not specifically track data for nursing informaticists, they report on the broader field of medical and health services managers, including roles like nurse informaticists. In 2023, the BLS projected a 28 percent increase in employment for medical and health services managers and a staggering 45 percent growth rate for nurse practitioners from 2022 to 2032, growing much faster than the average for all occupations (3 percent). This growth can be attributed to various factors, including the increasing importance of healthcare technology and information systems in improving patient care outcomes and the ongoing implementation of electronic health records (EHRs) across healthcare organizations.
Discover the roadmap to becoming a nurse informaticist, including valuable insights on career advancement, educational routes, and lucrative salary statistics.
How to Become a Nurse Informaticist
Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma or GED (Four Years)
Earning a high school diploma or GED is crucial for aspiring registered nurses.
Step 2: Enroll in a BSN Program (One to Four Years)
To advance in their careers or take on managerial roles, nurses must have a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). These programs, offered by various accredited institutions, usually take one to four years to complete. With a BSN degree, nurses gain the expertise and abilities needed to work as professional nurses and can also choose to specialize in areas like nursing informatics.
Here are three popular types of BSN programs to consider.
Accelerated BSN Programs: A one-year bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree completion option for those with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees.
- Sample program: Baylor University
- Duration: One year
RN-to-BSN Programs: A two-year bachelor’s degree completion option for licensed RNs with two-year associate’s degrees in nursing (ADN).
- Sample program: Western Governors University
- Duration: Two to three years
Traditional BSN Programs: Four-year programs that begin from high school and result in a bachelor’s or nursing (BSN)
- Sample program: California State University San Marcos
- Duration: Three to four years
Step 3: Pass the NCLEX Exam (Timeline Varies)
The NCLEX exam is a vital assessment taken by registered nurses who wish to obtain their license from state boards in the United States. This comprehensive examination evaluates the abilities and expertise of nurses, ensuring their competence to provide safe care in various healthcare environments. Successfully passing the NCLEX is mandatory for RNs in most states to practice as nurses.
Step 4: Gain Experience (One or More Years)
While a graduate degree in nursing is required for most positions, it’s important to note that many programs require prior work experience. Earning valuable nursing experience before applying can set applicants apart from other candidates and give them a competitive edge for admission.
Step 5: Enroll in a Graduate Degree or Certificate Program (Optional, One to Five Years)
Enrolling in an advanced nursing degree or certificate program is advised to become a nurse informaticist. This can be achieved through earning a graduate degree or obtaining a continuing professional education certificate. Individuals can enhance their knowledge in specialized nursing fields by pursuing higher education. Master’s and doctoral programs focus on the latest evidence-based healthcare practices and offer career advancement opportunities.
Below are some popular options for advanced nursing degrees and certificate programs:
Accelerated RN-to-BSN-MSN in nursing informatics
- Sample program: City University of New York (CUNY) Professional Studies
- Duration: Five years
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN): A two-year master’s degree with a concentration in nursing informatics.
- Sample program: Walden University
- Duration: Two years
Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA): A dual degree program awarding an MSN/MBA or an MSN/MHA combination.
- Sample program: Maryville University
- Duration: Three to five years
MSN/MHA dual degree: A two-year program that results in two degrees in the same amount of time it takes to complete one degree.
- Sample program: Saint Joseph’s College of Maine
- Duration: Two years
Post-Master’s Certificate: These programs are open to those with a BSN or pursuing an MSN degree or specialization. Credits earned in these programs can apply towards an MSN.
- Sample program: Thomas Edison State University
- Duration: One to two years
Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP): A practical doctoral program specializing in nursing informatics.
- Sample program: University of Minnesota
- Duration: Three years
Step 6: Earn Nursing Informatics Certification (Timeline Varies)
Certifications for nursing informatics professionals help validate their knowledge and skills in the field. The following are some of the certifications available in nursing informatics:
- Informatics Nursing Certification (RN-BC®) – Offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), this certification validates the competency of informatics nurses.
- Certified Associate in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CAHIMS) – Offered by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), this certification focuses on healthcare information and technology management, including nursing informatics.
- Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS) – This certification demonstrates expertise in healthcare information and management systems, including nursing informatics.
Please note that certification requirements may vary, and eligibility criteria often include a combination of relevant experience, completion of specific educational programs, and continuing education in informatics.
See the section below for eligibility, renewal requirements, and pricing for nursing informatics certifications.
Step 7: Maintain Nurse Informaticist Certification (Three to Five Years)
To maintain nurse informaticist certifications, it is necessary to renew credentials every three years for HIMSS certifications and every five years for ANCC certifications. Credential holders must complete renewal before the expiration date of their current certification to stay active and retain certification status.
What Does a Nurse Informaticist Do?
A nurse informaticist, also known as a nursing informatics specialist, combines their clinical nursing expertise with information technology knowledge. Their primary role is to bridge the gap between healthcare and technology, utilizing data and technology systems to improve patient care and outcomes.
Some of the specific tasks and daily responsibilities of a nurse informaticist include:
- Developing and implementing information systems based on evidence-based standards of care
- Analyzing and interpreting medical data to identify patterns and trends that can improve patient care and public health
- Collaborating with healthcare professionals and IT teams to ensure the effective integration and utilization of health information systems
- Educating and training healthcare staff on using technology systems and promoting their adoption
- Conducting research and staying updated on advancements in healthcare technology and informatics
- Ensuring the security and confidentiality of patient health information under legal and ethical standards
- Participating in designing and evaluating clinical decision support tools to enhance clinical processes and improve patient safety
- Serving as a resource and consultant for healthcare professionals
- Offerring guidance on selecting, implementing, and optimizing health IT solutions
How Much Do Nurse Informaticists Make?
The average salary of nurse informaticists ranges from $86,000 to $125,000 depending on factors such as experience, location, and educational background.
For context, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that medical and health services managers, which can include nurse informaticists, earn median annual salaries of $101,340 as of May 2022. However, this data reflects the broader field of healthcare management and does not solely focus on nurse informaticists. By comparison, nurse practitioners, who may be involved in nursing informatics, earned median annual wages of $121,610 in May 2022, according to the BLS.
Other salary sources such as Glassdoor.com show even higher annual wages at $124,633 according to data from September 2023. Payscale.com, a self-reported aggregated source, shows that nursing informatics specialists earn $86,069 based on 53 profiles, in September 2023. This may be due to the smaller sample size compared with the other sources.
What’s more, the HIMSS 2022 Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey highlights the growing demand for nurse informaticists. The survey reveals that 60 percent of nurse informaticists reported a salary over $100,000, indicating a strong market for these skilled professionals. Furthermore, experience plays a significant role in salary potential, with 71 percent of nurse informaticists who have logged 11 years or more earning over $100,000 annually.
It’s important to consider that salaries can vary depending on factors such as geographic location, experience level, education, and the specific organization or healthcare setting. Job seekers can use resources such as the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center’s (MERIC 2023) cost of living index to determine location-based salary equity. Additionally, specialized certifications and advanced degrees in nursing informatics may contribute to higher earning potential within the field.
As healthcare organizations continue to recognize the value of nurse informaticists in optimizing healthcare delivery and improving patient outcomes, the demand and remuneration for professionals in this field is expected to remain high.
Nurse Informaticist Certifications
There are several certifications available for nursing informatics professionals. Nursing informatics certifications provide a recognized standard of competence in nursing informatics and can enhance career opportunities, demonstrate proficiency, and validate expertise in the field.
One widely recognized certification is the Informatics Nursing Certification (RN-BC®) offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). This certification is a competency-based examination that validates the knowledge and skills of informatics nurses.
- Scope: Active RNs
- Eligibility: RN license, bachelor’s degree, two years of RN experience, at least 30 hours of continuing education, and a minimum of 2,000 hours in informatics nursing in the last three years or 1,000 hours of informatics nursing in the previous three years and completion of 12 semesters hours of nursing informatics courses.
- Duration: Five years
- Fee: $395 (non-members); $295 (American Nurses Association members)
Another certification option is the Certified Associate in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CAHIMS), offered by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). This certification focuses on healthcare information and technology management, including nursing informatics.
- Scope: Non-nursing administrative personnel
- Eligibility: High school diploma and 45 hours of continuing education in healthcare information technology, or a college degree from an accredited university and 25 hours of continuing education in healthcare information technology.
- Duration: Three years
- Fee: $379 (non-members); $299 (HIMSS organizational members)
The Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS) certification is available for professionals with expertise in healthcare information and management systems, including nursing informatics.
- Scope: Nursing and non-nursing personnel
- Eligibility: A college degree and five years of healthcare management experience; a graduate degree and three years of healthcare management experience; or 10 years of healthcare management experience.
- Duration: Three years
- Fee: $599 (non-members); $449 (HIMSS organizational members)
It’s important to note that certification requirements can vary. Common eligibility criteria for nursing informatics certifications may include a certain number of years of relevant experience, completion of a graduate-level nursing degree, and continuing education in informatics.
Rachel Drummond is a freelance writer, educator, and yogini from Oregon. She’s taught English to international university students in the United States and Japan for more than a decade and has a master’s degree in education from the University of Oregon. A dedicated Ashtanga yoga practitioner, Rachel is interested in exploring the nuanced philosophical aspects of contemplative physical practices and how they apply in daily life. She writes about this topic among others on her blog (Instagram: @racheldrummondyoga).