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How to Land a Job in Nursing Informatics

How Can I Get into Nursing Informatics?

Has 14 years experience. Specializes in Informatics, Managed Care.

This article is meant for nurses new to the field of Nursing Informatics who want to find out how to get their first job. This year interest in Nursing Informatics has grown as technology increasingly fills gaps left by less face-to-face care. Having spent 10 years of my career as an Informatics Nurse, I am frequently asked about how to get into this field. While everyone’s story is a little different, including my own, in this article I pull together the most common ways nurses get into this area.

How to Land a Job in Nursing Informatics
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This year, interest in Nursing Informatics has grown as technology increasingly fills gaps left by less face-to-face care.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many healthcare providers and insurance companies looked for technology to identify populations in need of intervention, triage patients to urgent and emergent care, and incorporate wearable technology in treatment plans.

With many patients afraid to return to in-person care, the use of healthcare technology is poised to increase. The field of Nursing Informatics - also referred to as Health Informatics - is poised to grow along with it.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects Health Informatics to grow 11% into 2028.

Most healthcare companies find it difficult to locate people with the right combination of skills: ability to analyze data, understanding of electronic records management, project management, and strong communication skills.

Having spent 10 years of my career as an Informatics Nurse, I am frequently asked about how to get into this field. While everyone’s story is a little different, including my own, below I pulled together the most common ways nurses get into this area.

First of All, What Do Informatics Nurses Do?

There are many different roles nurses in this field perform, but the general way to think of an Informatics Nurse is as the bridge between Clinical and Information Technology.

Informatics Nurses understand business context and how a system would be used to support it. We translate what nurses at the bedside need to technical teams, and ensure software meets those needs.

The exact duties of an Informatics Nurse vary by role. For example, a Clinical Business Analyst may define business requirements and prioritize features of a system, while a Subject Matter Expert is on the team to provide input based on their expertise in an area of nursing.

Salaries also vary by role, level of responsibility, and geography.

In the New York City area where I live, Informatics Nurses in entry-level analyst roles are typically paid in the $90,000 range, while Informatics Nurse Directors may be paid upwards of $150,000.

How Do You Get into Nursing Informatics?

There are generally two paths into this field:

Path 1

Nurses who have a clinical background needed for a technology project.

In this scenario, a nurse has experience in a particular clinical area or role that is needed for a system implementation project.

For example, if you worked as a Care Manager for a number of years and your organization is implementing a new Care Management platform, you could be brought onto the team as a Subject Matter Expert.

Working closely with a technology team over time often turns these nurses into experts on that platform. In fact, the Subject Matter Expert is usually the person other nurses are told to go to with questions about how the system works.

I know a number of nurses who entered the field in these types of roles and never left.

Alternatively, some people enter nursing after careers in Information Technology. In this scenario, nursing adds a business background for someone who already has the technological skills.

Since this combination of skills is difficult to find, people with both backgrounds are considered very valuable.

Path 2

Nurses who obtained a Masters in Nursing or Health Informatics.

While not required, the master's degree certainly helps nurses without a technology background to break into the field. This is the path I followed since my experience prior to graduate school was purely bedside care.

The master's degree also helps open doors to leadership roles. The first company I worked for after getting my masters would not promote Informatics Nurses into Director roles without a graduate degree.

Because nurses who followed Path 1 are generally already working in this field, the focus of my advice below is for nurses following Path 2.

How to Get Your First Job in Nursing Informatics

Similar to finding your first job as a nurse, it can be challenging to get a foot in the door in Nursing Informatics. Even though these roles are hard to fill, most companies still prefer to hire someone with experience than someone who requires training.

Here are some ways to get that first job:

Method #1: Leverage your master's practicum

It surprises my Nurse Practitioner friends that Nursing Informatics students also have practicums. I had 3 practicums during my master's program, and I found them all extremely helpful.

Similar to Nurse Practitioner students, as a Nursing Informatics graduate student I shadowed people in the IT departments of several companies.

I intentionally chose a variety of places to shadow:

  • The IT department of the managed care company where I worked. This department had a group of masters-prepared Informatics Nurses leading their business analyst team.
  • The IT department of a large university hospital. This department had a DNP (her focus was Nursing Informatics) leading a mixed group of Informatics Nurses and non-clinical business analyst in an Epic implementation.
  • The home care team of a small community hospital. There was no IT department, just 1 Informatics Nurse who managed the relationship with the software vendor and acted as a mini Help Desk for system issues.

The benefit of the practicum was both to see Informatics Nurses in action, but also to build my network.

In fact, my first Informatics job was with the group of Informatics Nurses at my managed care company because they remembered me from my practicum when a spot opened on the team.

If you are still in a master's program, definitely leverage the practicum to build your network. If you have finished a master's program, revisit the people you met in your practicum to see what roles they have open.

Method #2: Invent your own internship

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have good practicums during their master's program. An alternative is to create your own internship.

You can do so through a combination of the following:

  1. Ask the IT department of your organization if they ever let people shadow. This could be a good way to meet people in the field and show your interest in making a career change.
  2. Set up informational interviews with people in your organization and other organizations performing the roles you like. Set up a Zoom coffee or lunch and pick their brain about their work, their organization, and how they got started. This can give you more ideas for breaking into the field, and put you top of mind for openings that person becomes aware of.
  3. Volunteer for projects in your current role. One of the key skills for Informatics Nurses is being able to manage projects and be on a project team. Volunteering to be on a technology project in your current role could set you on a path to move onto a technology team. Even a non-technology project will provide the helpful experience you can add to your resume.

Method #3: Join professional organizations

A number of professional organizations in Nursing Informatics/Health Informatics host conferences and post openings. A friend of mine has gotten his last 3 job offers through attending the HIMSS conference each year.

Here are a few of the larger groups to know:

Method #4: Check back with your graduate advisor

You would be surprised how often professors in these programs are approached about qualified Health Informatics/Nursing Informatics candidates.

Definitely stay in touch with your advisor and check back to see if they know of any openings. They may also be aware of upcoming large projects where more Informatics Nurses will be needed.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, these methods used alone or in combination help you get that first job. Once you have experience as an Informatics Nurse, it is much easier to get the next job and the one after that.

I know I did not mention applying for jobs online. I have nothing against going this route, and have hired people who simply saw a job posting on my company’s website and applied.

The reason I did not mention it above is you will definitely need to have experience, so make sure you are the right fit before applying.

Regardless of the methods you use, several things to make sure of as you get out there:

  • Learn the names of the technologies you are using. This will be important both when you look for new jobs and when you go for interviews
  • Learn as much as you can about any role you apply for. This is true of any field, but particular in Nursing Informatics where there are many different titles for the same type of role.
  • Make friends with consultants. As you build your career you will likely meet many consultants along the way. Incorporating them in your network is valuable because they often move from project to project and will know about openings in this field.

Best of luck and I hope to hear many success stories!

References

Want to Land a Job in Health Informatics? The Different Paths to Employment

Informatics Careers: What it Takes and How to Get There

Health Informatics Careers

Medical Records and Health Information Technicians - U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

I am a Registered Nurse with a background in Informatics, Nurse Education, and Managed Care. I work as a freelance writer on the side, and enjoy combining my knowledge of healthcare with my passion for writing.

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I found your article interesting, upbeat, and encouraging, but from everything I read, nursing informatics jobs are not easy to come by for the great majority of people, even with an MSN in nursing informatics.

It appears that for many nursing informatics positions, a background in IT and/or HIM education/training/experience (especially experience) is highly sought after; everything I read gives me reason to believe that only a tiny minority of people who are trained as nurses and go on to obtain a MSN in NI actually have the background that is sought for the majority of these positions. Additionally, these positions appear to be very competitive to obtain. I think this should be emphasized, as education, let alone advanced education, is expensive, time consuming, and makes a lot of demands on one's family.

Realistically, spending a lot of money and time for an advanced nursing degree (after already having trained to become a nurse) that will still require further education and training, and then scrambling after all that to try to find some kind of volunteer/entry level position in order to try to gain experience so that one may one day have a chance at being a desirable candidate for a well paid, competitive position, is, in my view, not a practical or desirable option for the vast majority of people.

Edited by Susie2310

Lisa Brooks, BSN, MSN, RN

Has 14 years experience. Specializes in Informatics, Managed Care.

Hi, @Susie2310! I think you raise some good questions. I actually wrote another post about what I wish I knew before starting the MSN in Nursing Informatics (pasted below) where I talk about some of the points you mention.

I will speak from my experience: I did not have a background in IT or HIM before getting my masters. I was a Hospice and Palliative Care nurse when I decided to go into the Informatics field.

I chose Informatics because I was comfortable using the clinical system and helping my co-workers who struggled with it, and because I heard Health Information Technology was a growing industry. I also knew I was not interested in becoming a Nurse Practitioner or Nurse Administrator.

In terms of getting my first Nursing Informatics job, I actually had a much easier time than getting my first nursing job. It took me 7 months after finishing my BSN to get my first nursing job since every place wanted experienced nurses (my sister-in-law graduated the year after me and it took her 11 months).

I thought the nursing shortage would make job hunting easier, but it did not.

For my first Nursing Informatics job, as I mentioned I lucked out - one of the groups with whom I did a practicum had an opening as I was finishing my degree. What is probably more helpful to know is of my classmates who graduated with me, the majority had roles in Nursing Informatics within 6 months of graduation (10 out of 15 graduates).

I will point out, though, that I live in the NYC-area, which includes Northern New Jersey and Connecticut. My classmates and I had a lot of hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and health insurance companies looking for nurses with a tech background. Depending on where you live, there may be more or fewer job openings, which is definitely something to research before going into this field.

A key thing to recognize is Nursing Informatics is truly a separate and distinct field. As with any move to a new field, expect to start in an entry level role unless you have prior experience.

Hopefully, other Informatics Nurses in this forum can talk about their experiences. As I mentioned, everyone's story is a little different, including mine.

Kharis, BSN, RN, EMT-P

Has 15 years experience. Specializes in Neuro, ED, Cardiac, Workflow, Project Mgmt.

I am one third through my master's program in Health Informatics and I have an interview tomorrow (my first) for a job in the clinical informatics department: Clinical Order Set Specialist. The role has expanded to also include the yearly review and update of Care Plans and BPAs along with their associated workflows within the EHR. I am excited to see where this journey goes should I be successful in being granted an offer to join the team.

What I find interesting about this entry level role is it seems to be a bridge between quality and technology within informatics. When shadowing various roles last year, it seems these two are kept segregated. People work in Quality and others work in Informatics/Technology - but rarely do the two join in one role in an appreciable way. Unless I am reading too much into things, the Order Set Specialist role seems to fill that gap nicely.

Thank you for your article - I enjoyed reading it.

Lisa Brooks, BSN, MSN, RN

Has 14 years experience. Specializes in Informatics, Managed Care.

@Kharis Best of luck with your interview! Keeping my fingers crossed you get the role!

Kharis, BSN, RN, EMT-P

Has 15 years experience. Specializes in Neuro, ED, Cardiac, Workflow, Project Mgmt.

I accepted an offer for the Clinical Order Set Specialist position on Friday. I start my new role in September! 🤩

Informatics Queen, MSN

Has 20 years experience. Specializes in Clinical Informatics/IS Analyst.

Awesome advise...although informatics is tough to get into, it is possible. I obtained a MSN in Healthcare Informatics and it has certainly aided in my 2 roles in informatics. It also helps if you've utilized the EHR at the bedside/clinically that you'll be supporting. Happy Job Hunting!

Lisa Brooks, BSN, MSN, RN

Has 14 years experience. Specializes in Informatics, Managed Care.

@Informatics Queen I completely agree. Experience with the EHR is super helpful for putting yourself in the shoes of the end user, and certainly helps when looking for jobs involving that EHR.

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