Nursing Informatics- Another Career Avenue
Hollis Forester, RNC-NP
As we are all aware, electronic health records, on-line learning and countless other forms of technological assistance tools for the medical professional are here and here to stay. These valuable resources can offer the hospital or ambulatory care nurse the possibility of medical records readily at hand, reminders of allergies, and quick references for patient care essentials. However, all of these technologies need medical professionals who are willing to assure they are responding to the needs of the clinicians on the floor or in the clinic. Electronic health records are designed by vendors. Perhaps they have medical input into their development, however, using a system “out of the box” for your clinic will probably not fly. The systems need tweaking and adjusting to your needs, your protocols, your specific populations of patients. And, of course, after the system is in place, training staff, maintaining the system and assuring its ongoing quality will be someone’s responsibility. Nurses are precisely poised to adopt these roles. Having the knowledge of medicine with the practical experience of work on the hospital floor or in an ambulatory setting can give you the advantage to make a real difference in the creation of an electronic health record system that will really help the staff instead of frustrating them.
On-line learning is also becoming a major player in the education of nurses and support staff. The cost benefits of avoiding travel as well as the convenience of learning between patients or at home are contributing to the acceptance of these courses presented in an on-line format. But these courses are difficult and time consuming to develop. Subject matter experts are needed in a vast variety of disciplines within the healthcare arena. And, you could be there, to help in the development of the best learning tools, contributing to patient safety by creating the best resources possible for your staff.
These two new health informatics paths are only a sampling of the kind of technology that is available now to the medical profession and two of the paths that need nursing leadership to develop the best tools for nursing use.
According to some, this is the “hottest” new field in nursing. Nursing Informatics has been around for a decade, at least, and there are credentialing bodies and certification programs to prove it. Informatics nurses can be certified through the ANCC (American Nurses Credentialing Center). They offer a test that you are eligible to sit for if you have a:
• Current RN license • BA or BSN • Have worked for two years as an RN • Have worked for 2000 hours in informatics within the last three years, or • Have worked for 1000 hours and have taken 12 hours of academic credits in informatics, or • Have completed a graduate program in informatics.
You can begin to get experience in this exciting new field with weekend immersion programs or other CEU opportunities.
And, with fewer requirements, you can get a certification in Health IT (including, of course, the training to back up the certificate) through the organization, ANIA (American Nurses Informatics Association). This website can give you valuable information about schools that offer graduate degrees in informatics, CEU opportunities, possibilities of certification in this field and just general information about the possibility of this specialty in your life.
Moving into this career path can be incredibly rewarding. You will be helping your organization make decisions about technology (E.H.R., learning opportunities, point of service decision making tools) that can make you patient’s care safer and your peers work-day less stressful and more satisfying. If you have the talent or the drive to consider looking at this opportunity, I am sure your colleagues will thank you for it!