Nurse Informaticists: Taking Care of Providers Not Computers

The field of Nursing Informatics is still relatively new and not widely understood by many outside of the Healthcare IT industry.  Nursing Informatics merges nursing (clinical knowledge) with a technical background.  This results in a highly skilled, highly marketable provider liaison who can clearly communicate with physicians and mid-level providers during and after an EHR implementation in a way that is efficient and meaningful.

Nurse Informaticists can have varying levels of nursing experience.  They can be home grown, graduates of certificate programs or have advanced degrees in Nursing Informatics.  The typical areas of study for an informatics nurse holding an advanced degree includes courses in Database Management, Nursing Research, Health Systems & Policy, Information Systems Life-cycle and Senior Practicum.  These courses are all relevant to the Healthcare IT industry and carry real world application and value.

As a Nurse Informaticist for the past 8 years, my services have been most valued by providers who were frustrated post EHR implementation because of added workload, resulting in an extension of their already long work day.  My challenge overall has been, and will always be, to keep providers and clinical staff at the center of my work so that patient’s can be the center of theirs.  In looking at this from the traditional IT perspective, it may mean building an EHR system that gets the job done.  From the Nursing Informatics perspective it means building an EHR system that providers will use to get their job done.  In a nutshell, my job is to take care of clinicians so that they can provide satisfactory, high level patient care without a dramatic extension of their work day.

In the market today Nurse Informaticists are hard to come by.  However, there seems to be no shortage of job openings for nurses with this type of background.  As the field continues to emerge, more and more healthcare organizations will see the value in having a Nurse Informaticist either on staff or in a consultant role.

-Litisha Turner, MS, BSN, RN/Senior Clinical Consultant

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