MSN vs Masters in Health Informatics

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by tracytate tracytate (New) New

Hi Everyone!

I've been doing some research over the past few months and I really think I want to go back to school with my main focus being informatics. There are 2 programs I really like, one is an MSN degree with an informatics concentration and the other is a Masters in Health Informatics. Can anyone explain the differences between the 2? From what I have researched I think the Health Informatics is a little more broad and made for those from more than just a health care background. My ultimate goal would be to work with hospital staff to develop the EMRs that work for them and then train the staff. I am already a superuser at my hospital and I love helping my coworkers with the computers. Just trying to decide what, if any, big differences there are in these 2 degrees or if they are just different ways to get to the same end goal. Hope this makes sense and thanks in advance for any help!

msn10

msn10

Specializes in cardiac, ICU, education. Has 18 years experience. 560 Posts

I am already a superuser at my hospital and I love helping my coworkers with the computers.

I don't know anything about a degree in informatics, but God bless you for your love of helping other nurses on computers!!!! Not an easy thing to do sometimes.

Ginger's Mom

Ginger's Mom, MSN, RN

Has 41 years experience. 1 Article; 3,181 Posts

You have it a Masters in Informatics is broad, if you have any ambitions in nursing a MSN with a concentration will open more nursing doors.

Info(RN)matics

Info(RN)matics

125 Posts

I don't know anything about a degree in informatics, but God bless you for your love of helping other nurses on computers!!!! Not an easy thing to do sometimes.

Absolutely! Requires not only computer skills, but also teaching skills and interpersonal skills... and patience - lots of patience :)

You have it a Masters in Informatics is broad' date=' if you have any ambitions in nursing a MSN with a concentration will open more nursing doors.[/quote']

Is this based on experience? I don't know for sure, but just thinking about it - seems like a broader/general informatics degree open doors in more subject areas than a nursing informatics degree would. Thoughts?

mariafh

mariafh

Specializes in Informatics, Med/Surg. Has 35 years experience. 46 Posts

One thing I would compare is the length of time required to get the degree and the cost. I know that my MSN was 49 credits but my MS in computer science was 30. It was one year versus 2 as the MSN often requires some sort of clinical or practicum. For practicums, it is usually about 2 to 4 hours of clinical equals 1 credit. So you could have a 3 credit practicum and spend up to 12 hours a week doing it.

I would look carefully at the classes required for each. For a MSN, there are some core courses that you will have to take that may have little to do with informatics, although they can provide an excellent foundation. You will miss out on this foundation in the HIT masters, but then it allows you to take on more technical courses. I can't say which is better from an employment basis. I have seen both in the vendor community.

Info(RN)matics

Info(RN)matics

125 Posts

A nursing informatics degree is excellent. However, if you already have the clinical nursing experience and background you need, and if a health informatics degree offers you the chance to gain some technical skills, a health informatics degree sounds more desirable - (1) because you don't have to spend additional effort after the degree to gain these technical skills and (2) because it might not only open doors within 'nursing' informatics, but also in other areas of informatics practice. Be warned, though, that I am just thinking out loud here, and whatever I've said in this comment is strictly my own opinion based on the assumptions I've stated.

Nurse_cox

Nurse_cox

43 Posts

MS Health Informatics will limit what you can do compared to a MSN with concentration in informatics. MS Health Informatics is geared for computer majors who want to work in healthcare(they assume you already have huge amount of computer background).

mariafh

mariafh

Specializes in Informatics, Med/Surg. Has 35 years experience. 46 Posts

We have a couple of MS health informatics here in the Boston Area. The one at northeastern is specifically designed for 2 types of candidates, ones who start as clinicians and one who starts as IT. So you can't assume that an MS HIT degree won't meet your needs nor require you to be technical. Look carefully at the objectives the the program and what they have to offer. It varies by program.

Ariyala

Ariyala

Has 15 years experience. 37 Posts

Please correct me if I'm wrong. But Nursing Informatics is working with nurses and doctors at the bedside and with hospitals. Health Informatics is more on the business side of things. You can work with the nurses and the doctors but you also have the training and the opportunity to work for other companies outside of the hospital. Like for the people who create the machines we use in the hospital. Thats how I have looked at it in order to make my decision. I'm hoping to start school this year for Health Informatics.

Info(RN)matics

Info(RN)matics

125 Posts

Please correct me if I'm wrong. But Nursing Informatics is working with nurses and doctors at the bedside and with hospitals. Health Informatics is more on the business side of things. You can work with the nurses and the doctors but you also have the training and the opportunity to work for other companies outside of the hospital. Like for the people who create the machines we use in the hospital. Thats how I have looked at it in order to make my decision. I'm hoping to start school this year for Health Informatics.

The same is true for Nursing Informatics - you can work directly with clinicians at the bedside, work as a liaison between clinicians and programmers, work with programmers in design and development, work in management roles governing departments or institutions, work with or lead a vendor's sales and/or marketing team, work with and/or lead a training company's training team or an implementation company's implementation team or a go-live support company's at-the-elbow-support team, work as a consultant either independently or via a company, and so much more!

Like several other areas of work:

- It helps if you have ample opportunities in your area of interest.

- It helps if you have the right marriage of education, experience, and professional contacts to apply to the opportunities that appeal to you.

- Even if you are not the best qualified or the most experienced candidate who has applied, it helps if the people with the power to decide agree to take a chance on you because they believe you are capable.

ikarus01

ikarus01

Specializes in informatics for 10 years. Has 18 years experience. 254 Posts

MS Health Informatics will limit what you can do compared to a MSN with concentration in informatics. MS Health Informatics is geared for computer majors who want to work in healthcare(they assume you already have huge amount of computer background).

Really? I'm very curious to know what limitations a MS in health informatics imposes on what you can do. Please enlighten me!

Edited by ikarus7401

ikarus01

ikarus01

Specializes in informatics for 10 years. Has 18 years experience. 254 Posts

Hi Everyone!

From what I have researched I think the Health Informatics is a little more broad and made for those from more than just a health care background. My ultimate goal would be to work with hospital staff to develop the EMRs that work for them and then train the staff. I am already a superuser at my hospital and I love helping my coworkers with the computers. Just trying to decide what, if any, big differences there are in these 2 degrees or if they are just different ways to get to the same end goal. Hope this makes sense and thanks in advance for any help!

Mariafh gave a really good response and info(RN)matics also made a good point about getting in other areas of informatics.

I will also add the following...in terms of going for an analyst job, either degree works. I have not seen any preferential treatment given to one degree or the other. But we are talking about an analyst job.

Also, I have seen candidates interview for (informatics) management positions, and again, requirement was, master's degree. The hiring managers were more concerned with the candidate's experience, and not really with the type of master's degree they had.

Thus, if I were you, I would take a look at one school that you think you might attend if you were going for the MSN, and at another school that you would attend if you were going for the health information master's. Then compare the classes and see which ones look more appealing to you.

However, given that you say that your main goal is to work with EMR's, etc, I would say that the health information degree sounds more appealing. Matter of fact, if I were to go for a master's degree, I would go for that one cause I don't want to have a class about nursing research, for example!

And also, as mariafh mentioned, really look into the practicum requirement. I know that when I was looking at the health information master's, some schools required some project, and always a good idea to find out what is expected of you for this project. This is 5 years ago, but back then, I thought I would spend less time doing a project than doing a practicum. But since then, I know things have changed but again, since your main concern is to work in the informatics field, either degree works fine, at least from my experience from what I have seen in the field.

But again, if anything, hiring managers are more concerned about your experience in the field than on what type of master's degree you have. If you're passionate about EMR's and such, then you'll be fine with whatever degree you get, and it really comes down to in what classes you want to spend your time in....just do find out about what is expected of you for each degree and then do what you find most appealing because for a job doing what you describe you want to do, you will be fine with either!

Edited by ikarus7401
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