Why become an RN to do computer work?


No offense to anyone but I don't understand the point of going to nursing school attaining an RN or even BSN only to work in computers. It seems like a lot of work to to become a nurse then not use the license.


908 Posts

Has 10 years experience.

I have a feeling you've never worked bedside. Or if you have, it hasn't been for very long...


10 Posts

I have been a floor nurse for 5 years.

I don't understand your comment.

I have been a nurse for years but I admit I know nothing about informatics. The few people I have met who work in that field were completely dissociated from any kind of floor nursing work. They didn't really understand the actual day to day priorities. I just don't think it is really nursing so I don't understand why someone would need a nursing license to do the job.

Ginger's Mom, MSN, RN

1 Article; 3,181 Posts

Has 41 years experience.

what kind of nurse are you Wayne.? And what type of ehr do you use? who should be writing programs that effect nursing practice?


400 Posts

I was a floor nurse for 26 years. Having a clinical background is extremely helpful in making sure the floor nurses have the tools they need to perform their duties. When floor nurses are in their training classes, it helps when a trainer can relate what they are learning to actual scenarios that will be encountered. I have seen scenarios built in the training modules that were built by non-clinical people. It is a joke!! There was an instance where a training patient's surgical history needed to be created. I gave the non-clinical person the necessary information. However, when the surgical history was created, an appendectomy turned into orchiectomy. The patient was a 32 year old pregnant female for the OB module of the facility's new EMR. It got a few laughs in the training classes, but goes to show that clinical knowledge is key to enable the end users to relate and be able to use the program.

Some nurses find out that they are not cut out for bedside nursing. Informatics is a way to stay within the medical field and use their knowledge without getting burned out.


255 Posts

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

Many reasons as to why...I personally got burned out in the field, went back to school, got a computer science degree, and eventually landed in the informatics world.

I have colleagues who were really good at computers while working as nurses, and they were asked to help out, and eventually that turned into a job for them, and they liked it more than nursing itself so they stayed in informatics.

There are some who love computer work, and also are interested in medicine, so going for a nursing degree and informatics is one of the shortest route to kind of work in both fields.

And there are those lucky ones who were offered more money in an informatics position, and well, if you can't figure that one out, can't help you much.

But I've met doctors who as you can probably guess spent years in med school and then decided they would rather do an informatics jobs than practice medicine. Wrap your head around that one!

Now, you might be correct. There are many people who work in the field who have no clinical background at all, and like you said, they don't understand the priorities of what nurses do.

And that's the reason why you have nurses working in this field. They understand the priorities, workflows of nursing, and then from their prior nursing experience, they can help make computer documentation better.

Unfortunately though, many times you have computer applications that were developed without the input of clinicians and vendors many times would rather continue to implement what they have, rather than start from zero, and create a program that has a clinician's input. And that's why you might see an application that makes zero sense to use, and then you wonder, how can a nurse have created this crap? Well, response is, most likely it wasn't created by a nurse or with the help of a nurse, but now a nurse needs to try to make that application work for you. :)


46 Posts

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

I started as a nurse and now design hospital computer systems. I used to be concerned that being away from the bedside that I was no longer helping patients and their families. And then I did the numbers. When I was a staff nurse on the med/surg, I took care of 5 patients a day for about 50 weeks a year. That could potentially be 1300 patients for whom I could make a difference. Then I went into teaching at a small hospital based RN school. I taught about 5 classes of students (30 per class) for about 150 students. So by teaching them, I potentially impacted 150*1300 patients per year which is 195,000 patients a year through the nursing care provided by my former students. But then I went to design computers for hospitals that nurses use every day. To indicate the impact I made to patients, lets crunch the numbers. Lets say my system is used in 200 hospitals a year. Each hospital has about 200 med/surg beds. This is a total of 365 days a year with an average length of stay of 3 days. So (200*200*365)/3 = about 4,800,000 patients a year. Now that is an impact!

CraigB-RN, MSN, RN

1,224 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care, Emergency, Education, Informatics. Has 40 years experience.

One of the problems is that the "specialty" is relatively new. And there are almost as may different concepts of what a nurse informatics is as there are nurses in the profession.

For some of the jobs, I agree with you. They are working more as help desk personal than as nurses.

The concept of nurse informatics is that we use our unique knowledge to help in the application of HIT (Health information technology), by teaching nursing and health care providers and then analyzing the data.

Now both of these are simplifications of the specialty.

It's no different than nurses who choose to work in education, or any other non clinical specialty.

That is one of the selling points for nursing as a profession.


25 Posts

I actually have the opposite question, and I don't want it to seem judgmental, I'm genuinely curious. Why would someone with an IT or computer science background go to nursing school to become an RN, then work in an informatics role? It seems to me like someone with an IT background could do most healthcare IT jobs without being an RN, so why give up the money and time if you don't want to work as a nurse in the traditional sense? Are there more/better job opportunities? Do you get paid more for the same work if you are an RN? Do you go into it thinking you might like being a floor nurse, then change your mind?

To answer the original poster's question, why become an RN only to work in computers- sometimes people change their mind. I have personally become burnt out from floor nursing and, as I see systemic problems that I feel helpless to fix as a floor nurse, I have increasingly taken an interest in using technology to improve patient care and the healthcare system in general. So, while I went to and came out of nursing school wanting to be a nurse working with patients, once I worked as a nurse for a while, things changed.

And I completely agree with CraigB-RN, the ability to do tons of different things WITH your RN license/background (even working "with computers," many of the jobs require the RN background), including research, management, education, quality improvement, healthcare policy, case management, advanced practice, and informatics is a selling point of the nursing profession. I suspected that I would probably eventually get bored, so I went into nursing knowing I could do many things with it.

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

226 Articles; 27,608 Posts

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 17 years experience.
No offense to anyone but I don't understand the point of going to nursing school attaining an RN or even BSN only to work in computers.
Sometimes people fall totally out of love with floor nursing, or never particularly liked it in the first place. Specialties such as informatics and health information technology (HIT) enable the nurse with some clinical knowledge to remain employed and still impart a difference.


88 Posts

Speaking for myself, I loved patient care. However, I found I was spending MORE time every day showing other nurses how to use systems that could be so much more and so much better. This is where we as nurses can make an impact; helping our fellow nurses and other users to bridge the gap between systems and users. I got great satisfaction from patient care, but I got even more when I saw someone's face light up with gratitude and understanding when I showed them how to either use something that confused them or use it in a different way that best suited their needs. We live in a world driven by technology and the nursing field is no different. Nurses need to take care of patients. Technology can either be a tool or a hinderance in that care. As informatics nurses, it's our job to strive for the former. When great nurses can focus on patient care and not how to document/use technology, the patient benefits. In the end, I was a really good clinical nurse, but I am a great nursing informaticist! It's another nursing specialty that enhances nursing care, just like the others. That, and you definitely don't want IT guys designing your medical programs and technology!