The Future Looks Bright for Informatics Nurses!
The need for informatics specialists is growing at a fast pace. Thanks to the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HI-TECH, 2009) there is $19 billion available to promote the adoption of the electronic health record in the United States.
How are nurses going to position themselves for these jobs? Many informatics nurses in the past learned about informatics through on-the-job training. Now there are many options in order to fulfill educational goals in informatics.
What kinds of degrees are available in nursing and healthcare informatics? Nurses can get a certificate, a bachelor's degree, a master's degree, and doctorate of nurse practice or a PhD in informatics.
A certificate can be 17- or 18-credit hours of classes. Some certificates include a practicum experience. Duke University School of Nursing and Duke Center for Health Informatics, Durhan, NC, offers an 18-credit hour certificate, includes a 2 ½ day session at the school once a semester and a real-world practicum following course work. Excelsior College, Albany, NY, has a 17-credit certificate in healthcare informatics. The informatics courses focus on content related to information management systems, information system lifecycle, database design, and the ethical, political, social and legal implications of information systems management in the healthcare arena.
The bachelor's degree in healthcare informatics enables graduates to work in career settings, such as hospitals, health data organizations, insurance companies and public health agencies. The course curriculum may include healthcare professionals and informatics, decision making and technical interaction, and healthcare technologies. Western Governors University and Walden University offer online coursework leading to a bachelor's degree.
There are many nursing schools that offer quality programs at the master's level with an average of 40 credits. The University of Maryland School of Nursing, Baltimore, offered the first degree in nursing informatics in 1989. Now the master's and post-master's program are entirely online. The University of Utah, Salt Lake City, was the second program to focus on nursing informatics at the master's, and now at the PhD level.
At the doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) level, the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, has a program that emphasizes informatics. Loyola University, Chicago, also offers a DNP facilitated by grant funding from the Health Resources & Services Administration called Healthcare Quality Using Education in Safety & Technology (H-QUEST).
I obtained my PhD in with an emphasis on nursing informatics from the University of Maryland School of Nursing, Baltimore. Some may prefer the online option that Capella University, Minneapolis, offers at the PhD level.
Post-doctorate study in informatics is also available at the University of Missouri - Columbia or The University of Washington, Seattle.
What will be your next move related to education in nursing informatics? There are plenty of opportunities!
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