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Topics About 'Nursing Informatics'.

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  1. 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 1Nurses 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 2Nurses 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 InformaticsSimilar 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 practicumIt 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 internshipNot 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: 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.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.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 organizationsA 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: American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA)American Nursing Informatics Association (ANIA)Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS)Method #4: Check back with your graduate advisorYou 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 ThoughtsHopefully, 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 interviewsLearn 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
  2. To boldly go where I had never gone before! So was my entry in to "nursing informatics". Let me tell you about the journey! I have been a nurse for 26 years. Although for many of you that seems like a life time, believe me it is not. It is significant though in relation to my work choices. My early career started like that of many of us. I started on a med/surg unit as a scared and anxious new grad. Six months later, now being a seasoned and confident nurse, I was ready to spread my wings. I had enjoyed my psychiatric nursing clinicals in school and a position became available on the psychiatric unit. I was so excited when 6 months later, I was chosen for the job. I would now be able to impact the lives of my patients in such positive ways. Boy did I have a lot to learn. Although I did make a positive impact on my patients it was nothing compared to the impact they made on me! I learned patience in the face of chaos. I learned to listen even when I didn't like what I was hearing. I learned that there really was more than one way to accomplish a task or look at a situation and that sometimes the most unconventional methods were the ones that worked best. Now I know you are probably asking what that has to do with nursing informatics. I stayed in psych nursing for 20 years before I again felt a need to spread my wings. I decided that I needed to experience other areas of nursing and tried a few. I worked for a family physician and then I worked on a pain clinic. One thing that I noticed was even in these areas much of my work was still psychiatric nursing. I really wanted to do something different. In each area that I worked I was the one that staff came to when they were having charting or computer problems. I had no formal training but computers came easy to me, at least from an "end user" perspective. (Trust me, I didn't even know what an "end user" was at that point.) The joke was always I should be a computer nurse. Well, guess what? In my search for something different I found a position as a "Project Coordinator" and was now a "nursing informaticist." I could barely say the word let alone know what it meant. However, those lessons I had learned from my psych patients about chaos, listening and unconventional methods of completing tasks were all about to become part of my daily tool kit. I love nursing informatics and have learned that chaos allows us to look for oppurtunities for change, listening is the most important tool I can use in trying to assist the physicians, nurses and support staff in finding the best ways to care for patients and unconventional methods really do sometimes work the best. Nursing is a wonderful career that allows many diverse oppurtunities. Never be afraid to test the waters and always use your talents to improve the care of our patients, after all, they are the reason we are here.
  3. Brenda F. Johnson

    Getting My Graduate Degree: Is it Worth It?

    I love my career in GI, and never thought I would change. Working in GI for the past 25 years has served me well. I enjoy it, and learn something on a daily basis. However, for the past 4 ½ years my immediate boss was the worst. I knew that I couldn’t take working under her until I retired. I had applied for other jobs, but that never worked out, and I didn’t want to go back to a night shift or to work on the floor. Having worked in GI for so long had type cast me into procedural nursing. I was so desperate at one point that I felt depressed and trapped, as if in a bad marriage. About a year ago, I opened an email that stated that my facility was increasing tuition reimbursement. My heart skipped a beat. I actually like school, and love learning new things. So I printed out the information and put it aside until I got home. I did a search of the colleges and degrees that my facility partnered with for decreased tuition. There was one problem, I really didn’t want to teach, and am not necessarily interested in upper management. There was a choice of study that I didn’t quite understand called “Nurse Informatics”. I read the description several times trying to comprehend what exactly what “informatics” meant. After finally wrapping my head around informatics, I grew to like the idea. Using my nursing knowledge and nursing science to manage and define communication data seems like a great option for me. It sounded like something that I would like to learn more about. Also, when I get to retirement age, it could segue into something that I could do from home. My age was the only deterrent that gave me pause. I was 53 at the time and I questioned myself whether I should go into debt and invest my time to change into a career that was totally foreign to me. It terrified me, but also excited me at the same time. Would people look at me and say “what? She’s too old”. However, since I really don’t care what people think, that didn’t worry me so much. I chose the online Masters Program of Nursing Informatics at WGU. I am almost done with my first year, and I am still saying the mantra to myself about my age. Should I be doing this at my age? How many years will I really be able to work in my new field? Even though I question myself about my age, I know I won’t quit. My family is very supportive and working online allows me to work when I have the time. My mentor through the school has been very helpful and encouraging. She helps me to navigate each class and gives me advice on how to proceed. The school offers enough resources that a student can complete their work without leaving their house. I’m sure most online programs are similar and offer resources like that of WGU. The instructors are available for telephone conference, or email correspondence. I was also concerned about not being in a classroom. I love being in a classroom and having interaction with the teachers and fellow students. However, I have enjoyed working in the evening on my couch doing my schoolwork. At this point in my life, the online program fits my life and I am able to learn and do the work at my own pace. Beginning anything new in life can be nerve racking. A new job, new relationship, and beginning a new degree. I was very anxious during the first two classes until I understood how they format the classes and homework. There is a lot of writing involved, but that doesn’t really bother me. Writing is one of the things I enjoy, even if it is a term paper instead of an article. As far as my job goes, the old boss is gone, and now I am the boss. Of course life gets busier as soon as you start a project. Work has calmed down and life has gone on. Class by class I get closer to the finish line. But what about the whole reason that I began this journey? It has resolved itself. Do I continue in informatics, or do I change the direction of my degree to management? So many questions, so much is unknown. I have thought long and hard about my school and career future. I have not talked about going to school with my co-workers, I have kept it on the down low. In the beginning, the reason was because I didn’t want my “at the time” boss to know. Now I don’t want them to know that I may be leaving in the next year or two. Either way, my advice to myself is to do what I need to do for myself. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks, or expects. If you are thinking about going back to school, take a step forward and invest in yourself. Do it for yourself, and don’t let obstacles like age get in your way. We don’t know what tomorrow brings, and God leads us down the road that we need to be on. Tell us your school story!