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Career Advice (informatics)

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by csuarez99 csuarez99 (New) New

Hello everyone!

Thank you for taking time to read my post.

I need some advice regarding going into nursing informatics. I understand and have read many things on the forums regarding daily life, pros/cons in the field, and getting into the field. I do love working with technology and computers and I am definitely the tech person in my family. I know I do not want to work at the bedside for the rest of my career and I am about to hit my 1st year of nursing experience. I feel like I would thrive and diversify myself in informatics from the specialties in nursing.

My family was having concerns about where I should go specialize and I really want to go into nursing informatics. However, my parents express their concerns about the field's job stability, retention rates and the bottom dollar value. They recommend to go CRNA route because everyone needs surgery needs anesthesia, and the pay can support a family in California. From that perspective, it makes sense. Their argument against informatics is that once a system goes live or when a system is already in place, the hospital will not need the informaticists or trainers any further and minimize the staff for better use of resources.

I understand that there is not a perfect system in any hospital and that tweaks and updates are always needed in a system but the argument seems valid from a business perspective.

If anyone in the field is able to offer some advice for me, it would greatly be appreciated. Thank you again for reading.

meanmaryjean, DNP, RN

Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia. Has 44 years experience.

Unless your family is willing to go tens of thousands of dollars into debt, put in the requisite 2-5 years in the ICU first and then do the rigorous schooling and clinicals involved in a CRNA program, I would say that the decision is YOURS and if informatics is your 'thing' then informatics is it.

ikarus7401

Specializes in informatics for 10 years. Has 18 years experience.

Their argument against informatics is that once a system goes live or when a system is already in place, the hospital will not need the informaticists or trainers any further and minimize the staff for better use of resources.

This is the number one argument I always hear too from people who are worried about going into informatics, and heck, I heard the same about 10 years ago. And I always say, this comes from people who are completely clueless about technology or informatics, for that matter.

And to go off on a tangent...my mom's laptop I think is 8 years old and still going strong. On that laptop she has Microsoft word 2000 and this program, believe it or not, can produce some nice documents. Yet, microsoft is coming out with Word 2016...I mean why bother? MS 2000 already works great, right?

So just like MS word, systems in hospitals are always being upgraded, new requirements from nursing or other departments are always changing, which means, there is always something to do in informatics. Back in 2005 when I got my first job in informatics that's what nurses told me---but what will you do once the system is implemented? Aren't you worried about losing your job? 10 years later, and not only did the system get implemented, but it got upgraded, replaced, then merged with another system, so yea...

And if you really want to be safe, then I suggest you pick up programming and database skills. Two jobs that hurt for people and will always be around are Report jobs and interface jobs. Hospitals will always need somebody to extract the data from their systems so knowing SQL makes you invaluable. Interfaces allow programs in the hospitals to communicate among themselves so that data can go through, and not enough interface analysts out there, and this does require though some programming knowledge. Speaking of which, one of my IT friends got into this niche and just last night he called me to say he had 4 different job offers, and was trying to figure out which one to take, so yea...

Something else...IT jobs, yes, indeed---many jobs have gone to India, but the beauty about healthcare IT is that hospitals and some of the major vendors realized that the so called offshore staff wasn't a good idea for hospitals in the USA. Yes, some vendors still have some development and testing done in India, but don't think I've been to a hospital where they said, yea, we are laying off our informatics employees in favor of an offshore staff.

So my advice, if you already like technology, you will love informatics. If you're afraid about job stability, then pick up SQL and also look programming languages for interface jobs; but at the moment, 10 years in, hospitals still need my services even though their implementations were done loooooong ago. Crazy, right?

Thank you two for posting. I definitely will continue to work towards going into informatics. Also, thank you for the tips on some vital skills going into the specialty. I will try to find classes on some programming and databases.

Are there courses that I can take to learn SQL and programming languages? If so, what schools?

ikarus7401

Specializes in informatics for 10 years. Has 18 years experience.

Are there courses that I can take to learn SQL and programming languages? If so, what schools?

SQL and programming languages can be learned at any community college. However, you can learn SQL and any programming language online nowadays.

What these classes will teach you is the logic of how programs are written, which eventually will make you think in a different way when looking at problems and that might help you when configuring a workflow in an application. Also, if you ever participate in a project that involves data gathering, your SQL skills might come in handy then.

I can't tell you the number of times SQL has saved my life and time in a project, specially when we were doing the data gathering process. But again, is not something I used daily or even monthly; but when it comes up, I thank the stars for knowing how to write queries! ;)

But to answer your question...look at community colleges in your area and see what they offer for programming courses; some community colleges will have a computer science department and a business department and you can find classes in both; however, I know some community colleges won't let you take a programming class until you take some pre-req like, introduction to programming logic, and in fact, this is probably the best class to take.

The only advantage to taking a class is that you might be forced to actually pay attention and do the homework; but if you're disciplined, google something like, free online programming class and plenty to choose from.

Yes, plenty of programming languages, so which one to choose? Again, in your job most likely you won't be programming, but what matters is the learning of how to think like a programmer to solve a problem, so a language like python would do, but most schools start with something like C or C++, which again, help you to learn the basics of programming. Check out this link for resources.

Edited by ikarus7401
spelling

Thanks so much ikarus7401! Your advice was valuable.

If I get certified in SQL and learn a programming language like Python, Java, C++ and get certified in that, is it worth it to still get a certificate in informatics? Why spend the money on that when I could spend the money on individual courses, unless there is something I don't know. By the way, I'm an RN already.

ikarus7401

Specializes in informatics for 10 years. Has 18 years experience.

If I get certified in SQL and learn a programming language like Python, Java, C++ and get certified in that, is it worth it to still get a certificate in informatics? Why spend the money on that when I could spend the money on individual courses, unless there is something I don't know. By the way, I'm an RN already.

No, the idea is not to get certified in these languages because that alone won't get you a job. The idea is that while working as a nurse, you get involved in the field of informatics by either becoming a super user, attending so called user meetings, etc.

On this thread for example, the OP talks about gaining experience in informatics in his nursing job. Once you have this experience, then you can update your resume and apply for jobs. And if you're in this type of situation, is not a bad idea to take a programming class as mentioned above because that will open your mind to other ways of thinking, specially if all you've done your life is nursing, and zero computer stuff, since eventually, these programming classes come back to help you when configuring applications in informatics.

So then your question will be, and how do I get involved in my job with informatics? Well, that really depends. All hospitals do their stuff differently, but you need to find out your informatics department and see if they are doing any upgrades, or if they need nurses as superusers, and ask how you can get involved in helping them. Also, your floor manager should know if there are so called user meetings and you can attend those.

Also, I've been in hospitals where we send emails to the charge nurses telling them we need nurses to help us with testing certain functionalities, and of course, is a volunteer effort so no extra money, and is rare that we get any help this way. So talk to your informatics deparment manager see what help they need and that's how you get involved.

One of my colleagues simply became the unofficial "application trainer, troubleshooter, and computer fixer" on the floor. She liked computers so she was always eager to help the new nurses with the computer charting whenever they had trouble; eventually the floor manager heard they needed an informatics trainer and my friend was asked if she wanted to apply for the role, and that's how she got the job.

Oh, and the certificate in informatics, worthless! Again, on the thread that i linked to, read the response by rjmj87, and my response there. What matters in this field is experience, experience, experience. Again, that's why I always tell people, find a way to get involved in the field.

Edited by ikarus7401