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Excelsior College

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Excelsior College is an accredited, not-for-profit distance learning institution founded in 1971 focused on providing educational opportunity to adult learners.

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Excelsior College (excelsior.edu) is an accredited, nonprofit online college focused on helping adults complete their degrees and advance their careers. The college contributes to the development of a diverse, educated, and career-ready society by valuing lifelong learning with an emphasis on serving individuals historically underrepresented in higher education. Founded in 1971, Excelsior meets students where they are – academically and geographically – removing obstacles to the educational goals of adults pursuing continuing education and degree completion. Our pillars include innovation, flexibility, academic excellence, and integrity. Learn more at excelsior.edu.

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  1. Author: Bonny Kehm, PhD, RN Faculty Program Director in the School of Nursing It is not uncommon for nurses and students to wonder, “What the heck is nursing informatics” and “What can a nurse with a Master of Science in Nursing Informatics do?” Nursing informatics encompasses many different aspects of nursing. Nurses use informatics every day in health care, from electronic health records, smartphones, and telehealth to data analytics, data tracking, and smart cards, to name just a few. To understand nursing informatics, one must define it. As defined by the American Nurses Association, “Nursing informatics is a specialty that integrates nursing science, computer science, and information science to manage and communicate data, information, knowledge, and wisdom in nursing practice. Nursing informatics supports nurses, consumers, patients, the interprofessional health care team, and other providers in their decision-making in all roles and settings to achieve desired outcomes. This support is accomplished through the use of information structures, information processes, and information technology.” Nursing informatics is an evolving specialty area and can be applied to all areas of professional nursing practice and settings. The integration of nursing science, computer science, and information science assists in the use of electronic health record-keeping and has allowed facilities to link to other systems, which expands communication and interprofessional collaboration, best practice alerts, and knowledge acquisition and wisdom. Nurses use data and information every day in their nursing roles. Nurses take data in various forms and convert it to knowledge. Nurses then act on this knowledge in providing care or services. This process of converting data to knowledge, and finally to wisdom through the use of technology, is instrumental in bridging the nurse shortage gaps and access to care in rural areas. The use of technology and data-driven information is no more evident than in the current expansion of telehealth services. Telehealth services will continue to require great assistance from nursing informatics. Many facilities, organizations, and health care providers have all transitioned to telehealth and use smartphones or other smart devices to allow nurses to speak, see, and provide care while safely maintaining social distancing and other safety protocols. The expansion of technology eases the nursing shortage gaps in all areas by providing easier access to nurses for patients and reduces inequitable access to health services. By removing the geographical restrictions of where a nurse or patient is physically located, telehealth has the potential to revolutionize health care. Additionally, a nurse with a Master of Science in Nursing Informatics can improve patient care and satisfaction without the traditional on-site patient appointments and long waits. Practitioners of nursing informatics can examine data to measure the success of solutions while still being mindful of ethical concerns, so patient efficacy and protection is improved. Nursing informatics also allows for the quick exchange of information that can affect entire communities of people. Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced health care to improve technology and informatic needs. For instance, COVID-19 relied heavily on nursing informatics interactive maps that track cases of the virus around the world. The public health informatics nurse who is responsible for the application of information and computer science, coupled with technology to public health practice, learning, and research, has become instrumental in fighting the pandemic. The informatics nurse can use knowledge about threats to community health to improve pandemic planning, decision-making, allocation of resources, and care delivery. The COVID-19 outbreak has fully demonstrated the importance of informatics and how vital the informatics nurse is and will continue to be. The informatics nurse plays a role in not only ensuring technology is working, but also in educating others on access to technology. Continuing care and managing patients outside the hospital will continue to be important to decrease high patient volumes and risks of infection during the pandemic and beyond. The need for a master’s-prepared nurse informaticist will continue to increase as home-based monitoring of patients increases the need to provide real-time feedback. The use of nursing informatics allows for coordination of care and enables patients and nurses to remain safe yet connected. The future of informatics holds an unprecedented opportunity for nurses and students. Nurses can impact technology throughout nursing and health care and use technology to bridge the nurse shortage gaps and access to care. Investments in technology such as telehealth, public health communication, big data, and artificial intelligence, for example, will continue to expand, and the need for nurse informaticists will grow. Regardless of the specific area of nursing practice, the ability to read, process, and interpret data will be always part of health care. Challenge yourself today and explore the rapidly expanding possibility of a career as a nurse informaticist with a Master of Science in Nursing Informatics from Excelsior College.