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Nursing informatics visa perspective

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Hi,

I was an RN and now back to school in the Master of Health Informatics because my OPT expired and obviously they don't sponsor RNs with Bachelor's anymore. Secondly, it's a STEM major so I can have OPT extension. So my plan is to become an clinical informatician (probably nurse informaticist).

I would love your advice on the visa perspective of this field. Has anyone been sponsored H1B or greencard? Where do you work (vendors, hospitals, firms,...) and what is your position?

Any kind of advice or comments are appreciated.

Thanks

ikarus7401

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

I'm not a visa sponsored individual as I'm a US citizen, but I've worked with vendors and hospitals who have actually hired h1b candidates with informatics degrees. The pattern I have seen is that these individuals need to have extreme, unbelievable good, specific skills.

For example, the field needs database or programming skills and those who I've seen been sponsored brought these unique, hard to find skills to the employer. But moreover, these candidates were incredibly good at what they did. Previous employees in that same position had not solved the problems these candidates had solved, and that's why even I saw a couple of hospitals sponsor h1b visas, even though they had never done so. I have also seen candidates have their sponsorship terminated because they advertised themselves as database experts, but they didn't do a good job, so they were dropped.

Not sure what master's program you're doing, but many of the master's informatics programs in the USA don't really teach you much programming and they give a generic database introduction class. Thus, if I were in your shoes, I would teach myself database skills because what you will learn in your master's program, most likely won't be good enough. So take a look at your program and see what type of programming skills and database skills they teach. Good news is, these are skills you can teach yourself, and you can practice on your own.

Even though you were an RN before and even though you're going into informatics, just having the RN credential is not good enough to be sponsored because there are many RN's already coming out of master's programs and they are also looking for jobs in the field. However, what many of these candidates don't have, are excellent database skills and some employers are lacking these type of employees.

That gave me a good insight into the field. Thanks ikarus7401. I'm doing Master of Science in Health Informatics in Houston. My program does teach some programming and databases like python, SQL, XML, and analytics. I'm also taking 1 database class outside. The H1B people you mentioned above probably comes from IT or computer background with a master's in informatics. And you're right, they don't teach high level programming in informatics programs. So are vendors more likely to sponsor than hospitals?

ikarus7401

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

That gave me a good insight into the field. Thanks ikarus7401. I'm doing Master of Science in Health Informatics in Houston. My program does teach some programming and databases like python, SQL, XML, and analytics. I'm also taking 1 database class outside. The H1B people you mentioned above probably comes from IT or computer background with a master's in informatics. And you're right, they don't teach high level programming in informatics programs. So are vendors more likely to sponsor than hospitals?

Are the classes being taught in SQL, XML, Python, specific individual classes, or is it one class that covers these languages?

My point is, usually master's programs give an overview, and don't give details in it. Is one thing to take one class in programming, and is another thing to take 2-3 classes in one programming language.

But like I said, you can learn a language like C++, for example, on your own, at least the basics.

One of the H1B candidates I remember was a foreign doctor and had a master's in informatics. Obviously he was hired b/c of his doctor credentials. Two others had really no experience in the field, but they had just gotten their master's in informatics, but they were incredible in database programming. The other candidate who got terminated used to be a developer and went into health informatics, and since he was a developer, the hospital thought he would be a good one, but turned out to be a not so good developer so he was let go.

As far vendors or hospitals---well, I have seen vendors picked up h1b candidates, but I have seen vendors also easily get rid of h1b candidates. Hospitals don't usually hire h1b candidates, but hospitals are also very desperate for specific skillful people and i have seen hospitals go out of their way to try to hire h1b candidates who have specific skills they needed.

This is why if i were you, i wouldn't really concentrate on who hires the most---I would concentrate on sharpening your skills so that you're a wanted individual by either a hospital or a vendor because of what you can do. What really matters to be sponsored is, what skills you bring to the table.

However, unlike in the IT world, your work will be so transparent that if you don't have the skills to survive, you will be let go, as I have seen this before.

I used to work in IT and in the IT world, there are so many developers, so many database people, that an H1B candidate can easily hide behind others, since projects are given to multiple developers and you work in a team.

In informatics, usually it is you, and if you can't solve a problem, they will know is you and if the pattern persists then sayonara.

Now, obviously, you don't have to be a developer or database person or hl7 expert to work in informatics, but the only h1b candidates I usually meet doing the analyst jobs that don't require programming skills are doctors. Obviously I haven't met everybody, but my impression is that right now there are so many people coming out with master's degrees that there is no need to hire an h1b candidate unless this person brings some unique skills that a hospital/vendor can't find, and that's why if i were in your shoes, i would teach myself hard core skills that others don't have.

Worst assumption you can make is, informatics is such a hot field that i will find a job when I graduate. I have a blog and monthly I'll get emails from people saying, "I got my master's in informatics, been looking for a job and can't find one. I thought they said there were tons of jobs in the field."

What these people weren't told, was that there are tons of jobs for experienced candidates. Employers also know of the surplus of candidates and they will sit on a position until they find the specific skills they are looking for.

Prior to 2008, no joke, you got on the phone, and they asked, you have computer experience? Yes. Hired.

Now, employers want specific experience and that's why is a bit more challenging to get a job, specially if you have no experience in the field.

Edited by ikarus7401