How to Become an Informatics Nurse

October 12, 2023
7 min read


Reviewed by:

Jonathan Preminger

Former Admissions Committee Member, Hofstra-Northwell School of Medicine

Reviewed: 10/11/23

Are you interested in combining nursing and technology to improve patient care and healthcare delivery? If so, keep reading to learn how to become an informatics nurse.

This specialized healthcare professional seamlessly integrates nursing with cutting-edge technology to transform patient care. If you're interested in a career that combines nursing and technology, read on to learn more about how to become an informatics nurse.

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What Does an Informatics Nurse Do?

An informatics nurse is a healthcare professional who combines nursing, computer science, and information science to create, manage, and improve medical data and systems in an effort to support nursing practices and enhance patient care outcomes. 

Before we delve into how to become a nurse informaticist, take a look at some of the key tasks and responsibilities these professionals perform:

Design and Implement Health Information Systems

Informatics nurses are involved in designing and implementing electronic health record (EHR) systems and other health information technology (HIT) solutions. They work with IT professionals to ensure that these systems meet the needs of clinicians and patients.

Analyze Data

Informatics nurses use data analysis tools to identify patterns and trends in patient care. They use this information to develop clinical decision support systems (CDSS) and to improve patient outcomes. 

Train Staff

Informatics nurses are responsible for training clinical staff on the use of HIT systems and software. They may conduct in-service training sessions, develop training materials, and provide ongoing support to staff members.

Develop Policies and Procedures

Informatics nurses help to develop policies and procedures related to the use of HIT systems. They ensure that these policies and procedures are aligned with best practices and regulatory requirements. 

Conduct Research

Informatics nurses may conduct research studies to evaluate the effectiveness of HIT systems and to identify areas for improvement. They may also publish research articles and present their findings at conferences.

Collaborate with Healthcare Teams

Informatics nurses work closely with other healthcare professionals, including physicians, nurses, and IT professionals. They collaborate on projects to improve patient care and healthcare delivery.

Nurse informaticists focus on developing communication and information technologies in healthcare. They serve various roles, including educators, researchers, software engineers, and chief nursing officers. 

By utilizing the communication components mentioned above, they help create evidence-based policies and procedures for organizations.

Steps to Becoming an Informatics Nurse

If these duties and responsibilities piqued your interest, keep reading to learn exactly how to become an informatics nurse, step-by-step.

Step 1: Obtain a Nursing Degree

The first step to becoming an informatics nurse is earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. A BSN is often preferred for public health nursing roles due to its comprehensive curriculum. 

Getting into nursing school often requires dedication and preparation. The nursing school application process encompasses a variety of prerequisites and requirements. Prospective students should be prepared to demonstrate their academic prowess, personal qualities, and relevant experience. 

The process typically includes submitting transcripts, standardized test scores, recommendation letters, and personal statements, as well as showcasing any pertinent volunteer or work experience. Each nursing school may have specific criteria, so it's essential to research individual programs to ensure all requirements are met. 

Step 2: Gain Clinical Experience

As an informatics nurse, you'll need to have a strong understanding of patient care and the nursing process. 

You can gain clinical experience by working as a registered nurse (RN) in a hospital or other healthcare setting. This will provide you with hands-on experience in patient care, which will be invaluable as you move into a role as an informatics nurse. 

Step 3: Complete Continuing Education

As technology and healthcare practices continue to evolve, it's essential for informatics nurses to stay current on emerging developments in their field. 

You can accomplish this by completing continuing education courses, which can help you maintain your knowledge and skills to stay ahead of the curve. As an informatics nurse, there are various options available, including online courses, workshops, and conferences.

Enrolling in online courses offer a flexible and convenient way to learn at your own pace. You can access these modules  from anywhere and at any time, making it easier to balance your work and personal life.

If you can make the time in your schedule, another great option is to attend in-person workshops or conferences, which provide opportunities to learn from experts in the field and network with other professionals. 

These events offer valuable insights into emerging trends and technologies, and can be a great way to gain fresh perspectives, expand your knowledge, and stay up-to-date on the latest developments..

Regardless of which method you choose, completing continuing education courses can help you advance your career as an informatics nurse. By staying current on emerging technologies and healthcare issues, you can ensure you're providing the highest quality care to your patients, and making a positive impact on the healthcare industry.

Step 4: Obtain Certification

While gaining certification is not required to become an informatics nurse, it can demonstrate your expertise and dedication to the field. The American Nurses Credentialing Center, for example, offers the Informatics Nursing Certification (RN-BC) for RNs who want to specialize in informatics nursing. 

Step 5: Pursue an Informatics Nursing Degree

If you're looking to advance your career as an informatics nurse, pursuing a higher-level of education could be the right move. A master's or doctoral degree in nursing informatics can help you gain specialized knowledge and skills in technology and healthcare, preparing you to take on leadership roles in the field.

In a master's program, you can expect to learn advanced concepts in nursing informatics, such as data analytics, healthcare information systems, and clinical decision support systems. These programs also typically include coursework in research methods and leadership, preparing you for roles in academia or management.

A doctoral program in nursing informatics, like the one offered by the University of Minnesota, goes even further, providing you with advanced research skills and knowledge. Graduates of doctoral programs often take on leadership positions in research, education, and policy-making.

Specializing in informatics nursing can not only lead to increased job opportunities and salary potential, but it can also position you as a leader in the field of nursing informatics. By gaining advanced knowledge and skills, you can make a significant impact on patient care outcomes and the overall success of healthcare organizations.

Step 6: Gain Experience in Informatics

Once you've completed your education and certification, the next step is to gain experience in informatics by working in a healthcare IT department, serving as an informatics consultant, or working as an informatics nurse specialist. 

These roles will allow you to apply your knowledge of technology and healthcare to improve patient care and healthcare delivery.

Overall, to become an informatics nurse, one must acquire nursing and technological expertise through nursing education, clinical practice, ongoing learning, certifications, specialized degrees, and informatics experience, paving the way for a thriving career in this niche field.

Education Requirements to Become an Informatics Nurse

To become an informatics nurse, you need a general nursing degree as well as specialized education in nursing informatics. Here are the education requirements to become an informatics nurse:

To become an informatics nurse, specific education requirements typically include:

Bachelor's Degree: Earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing (BSN) or a related healthcare field. A BSN is often preferred and sometimes required by employers.

Registered Nurse (RN) License: Obtain a nursing license by passing the NCLEX-RN exam after completing the nursing program.

Informatics Education: Pursue education in informatics through a formal program, such as a Master of Science in Nursing Informatics, a post-baccalaureate certificate, or other relevant coursework in health informatics, data analysis, or computer science.

Experience: Gain clinical nursing experience and, if possible, experience working with healthcare technology, electronic health records, and data management systems.

Overall, to become an informatics nurse, one needs a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, nursing license, informatics education, and clinical experience. Though it requires significant time and effort, the career is highly rewarding and in-demand, making it a wise investment for those interested in the field.

Where Do Informatics Nurses Work?

The role of informatics nurses is becoming increasingly vital in healthcare, as technology continues to advance and shape the industry. 

These specialized nurses work in a variety of settings including;

  • hospitals
  • clinics
  • long-term care facilities 
  • nursing schools
  • healthcare consulting firms
  • IT companies 
  • government agencies or research institutions 

In these settings, informatics nurses are responsible for guiding healthcare professionals through the integration of new information technology applications into their daily workflows. 

They ensure that patient data is accurately and securely managed, stored, and accessible to authorized personnel. By using their knowledge of both nursing and technology, informatics nurses help bridge the gap between healthcare professionals and technology.

The demand for informatics nurses is expected to grow in the coming years as technology continues to play an increasingly important role in healthcare. This growth will provide a range of exciting opportunities for informatics nurses to work in various settings.

It also means that there will be a greater need for skilled informatics nurses who can keep pace with rapidly evolving technology and contribute to the overall success of the healthcare industry.

Informatics Nurse Salary & Job Outlook

Informatics nurses earn between $56,372 and $97,367 annually, with a median salary of $88,625, depending on additional degrees or certificates held, location, experience, and the organization.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 6% growth in nursing until 2032, primarily due to demand for healthcare services, an aging population, a significant number of nurses retiring, and recent healthcare legislation.  

Nurse informaticists have an advantage in this field, as more organizations seek to lower costs while improving care by leveraging technology.

FAQs: How to Become an Informatics Nurse

If you have any remaining questions, you can find your answers below!

1. How Long Does It Take to Become an Informatics Nurse?

The time it takes to become an informatics nurse can vary depending on the individual's educational background and career goals. 

Generally, an individual must first become a registered nurse (RN), which typically requires completing a nursing program and passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam. 

This can take two to four years for an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or four years for a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN).

After becoming an RN, an individual can pursue additional education and training in nursing informatics. This may include earning a graduate degree in nursing informatics or completing a post-graduate certificate program in nursing informatics. 

Becoming an informatics nurse typically requires becoming an RN first, which can take 2-4 years for an ADN or 4 years for a BSN, and then pursuing additional education and training in nursing informatics, which can take 1-2 years.

2. What Degree Is Needed for Nursing Informatics?

A minimum of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is typically required to become an informatics nurse. 

However, many employers prefer or require a master's degree in nursing informatics or a related field, such as health informatics, healthcare administration, or computer science. 

Earning a master's degree in nursing informatics typically takes 1-2 years, depending on the program's structure and requirements. Graduate-level nursing informatics programs may cover topics such as healthcare information systems, database management, data analytics, and healthcare quality improvement. 

These programs may also include a practicum or internship component, providing students with hands-on experience working in nursing informatics.

In summary, a minimum of a BSN degree is typically required to work in nursing informatics, but many employers prefer or require a master's degree in nursing informatics or a related field.

3. How Do I Start Nursing Informatics?

To become a nurse informaticist, you must:

  • Become an RN by completing a nursing program and passing the NCLEX-RN exam.
  • Gain clinical experience as an RN to develop an understanding of healthcare workflows, patient care, and clinical documentation.
  • Specialize in nursing informatics by pursuing additional education and training, such as a master's degree or a post-graduate certificate.
  • Seek opportunities to work in healthcare information technology or related fields, and consider obtaining a nursing informatics certification.
  • Network with other nurse informaticists to stay up-to-date on industry trends and best practices.

By following these steps, individuals can become qualified nurse informaticists and make meaningful contributions to the healthcare industry.

Final Thoughts

Becoming an informatics nurse is an excellent career choice for individuals who are passionate about healthcare and technology. The field of nursing informatics is rapidly evolving, providing opportunities for individuals to work in various settings, including clinical, research, and technology. 

The demand for a nurse informaticist is expected to grow in the coming years, creating opportunities for those with the right skill set and education to excel in this field.

To become an informatics nurse, it is essential to have a nursing degree and additional education and training in nursing informatics. 

The field of nursing informatics offers a promising future for healthcare professionals who want to combine their nursing expertise with technology to improve patient care outcomes and contribute to the overall success of the healthcare industry.

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