Am I a good Nursing Informatics Candidate?

  1. I currently have Master's in Computer Science and 7 years of Database Dev exp. within the telecommunication industry. I have a educational background in the physical sciences(Phy, Chem, Bio )and I want to make a career change into the healthcare field. I am enrolled in an R.N program and am thinking of getting into Nursing Informatics once I get a few years of patient care experience. Am I on the right track? I noticed that most of the Master's level programs for Informatics require a BSN. Do I need a Master's in Informatics to get into the field?
    Once I am a nurse( in a healthcare setting) what should I do to get opportunites at my work to get into the informatics field? I would appreciate it if you could respond..
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  2. 11 Comments

  3. by   rninformatics
    In answer to your question "am I on the right track?"
    I'd say yes if your desire is to both enter the healthcare field and practice in the dual role of informatics nurse.
    One point I will make now is that if your only goal were to transition into healthcare informatics/IT/IS you do not necessarily have to enroll in nursing school - considering your physical science background, Masters in CS and past experience with data bases.

    Although being a practicing and experienced clinician (RN, MD, etc, and I do underline "experienced") will give you the invaluable tools to understand what it is the users need and want from clinical information systems and how systems can be modified to faciliate ease of use, etc.

    Experienced clinicians also understand work flow processes, the realities of the clinical enviroment and how hospitals and clinical areas function - additional invaluable skills to have if you intent to practice in informatics.

    NO you do not need a Masters to enter or practice in Nursing/Healthcare Informatics. Once you are a nurse and have hands on clinical experience under your belt I'd suggest you go to IS and find out what new projects you can volunteer to assist with. I think you may find your first years of practice extremly challenging with just trying to master the clinical skill set necessary to be a good nurse. Most new grads do.

    I'd also suggest you joining your local nursing informatics organization and start networking with experienced informaticists now. Please read previous posts on this topic for more details and see the link to the HIMSS Nursing Informatics survey that I posted - the majority of informatics nurses practiced for 10 + years as pure clinicians before entering this specialty - not a requirement but I think it speaks to their ability to support clinical practice with technology because of prior clinical background and knowledge.


    Quote from themathais
    I currently have Master's in Computer Science and 7 years of Database Dev exp. within the telecommunication industry. I have a educational background in the physical sciences(Phy, Chem, Bio )and I want to make a career change into the healthcare field. I am enrolled in an R.N program and am thinking of getting into Nursing Informatics once I get a few years of patient care experience. Am I on the right track? I noticed that most of the Master's level programs for Informatics require a BSN. Do I need a Master's in Informatics to get into the field?
    Once I am a nurse( in a healthcare setting) what should I do to get opportunites at my work to get into the informatics field? I would appreciate it if you could respond..
  4. by   themathais
    Thankyou for responding to my question. I would specifically like to enter the Clincial Informatics field and not just general Health/Bio Informatics. I think it would be better to practice in a clinical setting first. Nursing was my choice since becoming a doctor or PA would take a LOT longer.
    From my previous experiences I've realized that to be successful in any area of IT you need to have a thorough knowledge of the product you work on. It is easy to be detached and just concentrate on the IT part but you cannot be as effective as you go further along. I also feel that practicing medicine in any capacity is emotionally rewarding.
    I did get in touch with ANIA(American Nurses Informatics Association) and got some valuable input form its chairperson Connie Delaney. I think this chat forum will give me a lot of info. I will follow your advice and get some input from informaticists in the local area.
    I've heard that Cerner and Meditech are products that widely used in the healthcare setting. Is there any way I can get a standalone downloadable version of one of them just to understand the basics?

    Thank you much Angela
    Libby
  5. by   rninformatics
    No problem, glad to be of assistance.
    FYI: Connie is the chairperson for the NIWG (Nursing Informatics Working Group) of AMIA The American Medical Informatics Association. "ANIA" the American Nursing Informatics Association is a different organization. You will find that there are multiple regional and national NI organizations. In fact one of the most recent and ongoing debates within this specialty has been whether or not there is a need for one organization that speaks for all of NI, similiar to ANA.
    NIWG-AMIA is known for its academic focus.
    "Is there any way I can get a standalone downloadable version of one of them just to understand the basics?"
    Common HISs such as those from Meditech, Cerner, McKesson, Eclipsys, Epic etc do not come as "standalone downloadable" versions. The file size alone of these systems would prohibit that. Within an institution these sytems run on AS400 or client server type boxes/servers.
    Remember these are hospital informations systems not just relational databases or office programs.

    I'm not sure what "basics" you would be attempting to understand by viewing. Each of the above vendors products is different. Maybe how each system handles the flow and processing of information throughout an organization? This type of access of the above vendors products is not common unless you work in an institution that has the product, (remember confidentiality and security of patient specific info) work for the vendor or are on the system selection team at an organization. I'm sure part of this is that the vendors want to protect their product and its functionality from being copied/duplicated etc

    You wrote that you are in nursing school. Some SON have access to the test environments of an affiliated hospital's information system.

    Quote from themathais
    Thankyou for responding to my question. I would specifically like to enter the Clincial Informatics field and not just general Health/Bio Informatics. I think it would be better to practice in a clinical setting first. Nursing was my choice since becoming a doctor or PA would take a LOT longer.
    From my previous experiences I've realized that to be successful in any area of IT you need to have a thorough knowledge of the product you work on. It is easy to be detached and just concentrate on the IT part but you cannot be as effective as you go further along. I also feel that practicing medicine in any capacity is emotionally rewarding.
    I did get in touch with ANIA(American Nurses Informatics Association) and got some valuable input form its chairperson Connie Delaney. I think this chat forum will give me a lot of info. I will follow your advice and get some input from informaticists in the local area.
    I've heard that Cerner and Meditech are products that widely used in the healthcare setting. Is there any way I can get a standalone downloadable version of one of them just to understand the basics?

    Thank you much Angela
    Libby
  6. by   NurseDiva04
    Your postings are interested because I am interested in Nursing Informatics. I, too, have undergrad & grad degree in CS, however, I worked in hospital IT where I supported HBOC, Cerner, Quinton, ORSOS, however, I have been out of the healthcare IT for about 3.5 yrs. I am going to nursing for BSN soon. I wonder how much schooling I would have to do?

    Cynthia
  7. by   Mariah
    Cynthia and Thematais

    I'm also a informatics nursing with a CS degree (MS). I work in software development for clinical information systems for a vendor. I am just one of many nurses involved. What made you decide to get the nursing education? Did you want to become a staff nurse or did you want to go into informatics initially? Just curious. Both of you will have the backgrounds for nursing informatics, as Angela has stated. With the CS degree, you have additional opportunities. This include software development of health care system, including clinical information systems. You do not need a nursing degree to do this. But then, this takes you away further from the health care environment and will require programming. For the most common nursing informatics positions, clinical experience is more important than technical. So getting some good nursing experience will be beneficial to both of you. But people in the nursing informatics field have all kinds of education in various combinations and levels. And they work in all kinds of positions. In some positions, certain education or experience is more desirable. But, I wouldn't get any more nursing education than what you currently planning to do until you analyze what you really want to do in this field. As Angela says, join a local informatics organization if you can. You can get an idea of what jobs they do as well as see demos of systems. If you let Angela or me know which general geographic region of the US you are in, we can direct you to certain groups that might be located near you. As for looking for positions when you are ready, don't limit yourself to your specific hospital. Check out vendors as well who are looking for informatics nurses in lots of positions.
    Last edit by Mariah on Mar 12, '04
  8. by   themathais
    Thanks Mariah for your input,
    To answer your question about why I want to do Nursing first is because the field of medicine interests me. Once I get some nursing exp I would like to start off as a computer liasion in some capacity and work between the Nursing and the IT side. I currently live an hour from Nashville so if you can direct me to any informatics groups in this area that will be good. Also I am curious about software dev positions that vendors are looking for in health info systems. Could you tell me where to locate these positions on the web. Thankyou for your insight!
  9. by   rninformatics
    Take a look at Sue Newbold's NI pages at:
    http://www.nursing.umaryland.edu/~snewbold/

    the NI special interest group contact info is located at:
    http://nursing.umaryland.edu/%7Esnewbold/skngroup.htm

    and you might also try the contact below:

    Tennessee Nursing Association Nursing Informatics Council
    Area: Tennessee, USA
    Contact: Roz Seymour, roz@chartertn.net
    Updated 1/5/2002

    I'd also suggest Monster.com, Career Builders.com and looking on the actual vendor sites under "careers here" or open positions for vendors such as Meditech, Cerner, McKesson, etc.
    Good Luck!
    Angela

    Quote from themathais
    Thanks Mariah for your input,
    To answer your question about why I want to do Nursing first is because the field of medicine interests me. Once I get some nursing exp I would like to start off as a computer liasion in some capacity and work between the Nursing and the IT side. I currently live an hour from Nashville so if you can direct me to any informatics groups in this area that will be good. Also I am curious about software dev positions that vendors are looking for in health info systems. Could you tell me where to locate these positions on the web. Thankyou for your insight!
  10. by   Mariah
    Themathias Thanks for the response. As Angela said, Monster.com and Career builders are good places to look around. Look for positions such as software engineer or programmer with the words of medical or healthcare. Also, HIMSS (www.himss.org) , AMIA (www.amia.org), and other organizations provide job listings in health care informatics. Software development jobs and other are listed among them. Also, to find a list of vendors, I would check out the healthcare informatics journals. Each year, many of them have an issue that lists all of the healthcare informatics vendors as a reference issue. These include Health Management Technology, Healthcare Informatics , Advance for Health Information Executives, Health Data Management, and others. A couple of vendors listed in your area include www.digichart.com and www.healthtrio.com. But to see a full list, you would need to get one of these journals and find the vendors listed in the desired area. A college with a health care informatics focus, nursing or non-nursing, would have these as well as possibly a hospital's library. Good luck in school.
  11. by   themathais
    Thankyou Mariah from themathais,
    I visited the websites you mentioned. HIMSS is very informative. I was wondering if the "Online Certificate Program in Healthcare IT" that HIMSS offers is worth pursuing given that I would like to enter into Nurse Informatics? Or would it be just a waste of time(I noticed it is a non-credit certificate)?
  12. by   NurseDiva04
    I just found that Excelsior offers an online certificate in Informatics. Checked the website and the FAQ's. If I can not come up with the money to start in Sept. as planned then I might do this first since it doesn't require a degree in nursing.

    www.excelsior.edu
  13. by   rninformatics
    Yes NurseDiva,

    Excelsior University does have an on-line certificate in Health Care Informatics. I am enrolled in both the certificate program and the MSN major in clinical systems management program. Not trying to sway anyone either way but I love the fact that everything but my final exam is on-line. Program instructors include such noteables in (nursing and healthcare) informatics as Sue Newbold, Linda Thede, Roy Simpson, Diane Skiba, and many more.

    Curriculum content is challenging and "real" world based - the developers of this program did an excellent job of combining informatics theory with real world practice.
    I hope to have both my certificiate and MSN by 2005, 2006 at the latest.

    Take a look at the descriptions of informatics specific course content to see of this program is compatible with your career goals. I've been a practicing RN for 19 years and have worked in healthcare informatics/IT/IS (primarily in systems implementation and management clinical information systems) for 8 years so the program meshes well with my professional career goals. Feel free to check out AMIA's website: www.amia.org

    where you will find links to additional informatics programs (nursing, medical and healthcare specific). University of Colorado also has an excellent program.

    Angela

    Quote from NurseDiva04
    I just found that Excelsior offers an online certificate in Informatics. Checked the website and the FAQ's. If I can not come up with the money to start in Sept. as planned then I might do this first since it doesn't require a degree in nursing.

    www.excelsior.edu

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