Study Nursing Informatics: Master's Degree & Certification Program Info

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Master's and certification programs in nursing informatics can lead to careers as informatics specialists or information officers. Get the truth about the requirements, courses and online options, and find out what you can do with your training.
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Study Nursing Informatics: Degrees at a Glance

According to the University of Illinois at Chicago, nursing informatics is the application of information technology to the role of nurses in healthcare (www.uic.edu). As a nursing informatics professional, you may assist in all aspects of the patient care process, helping to improve efficiency and eliminate trouble spots. Typically, nurse informatics professionals have experience or are currently working as registered nurses (RNs).

Nursing informatics professionals are a subset of the nursing profession, which was expected to see faster-than-average growth over the coming decade. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), registered nurses were projected to see employment increase 26% from 2010-2020. One of the factors that the BLS listed as spurring growth was the advancement of technology.

Master's Certification
Who is this degree for? Experienced individuals looking to transition into nursing informatics Experienced healthcare professionals looking to become more knowledgeable in health informatics
Common Career Paths (with approximate annual salary) - Nursing Informatics Specialist ($50,000 - $92,000)*
- Nursing Informatics Analyst ($51,000 - $81,000)*
- Chief Information Officer** ($81,000 - $284,000)*
(The same careers are available to individuals who complete certification programs)
Time to Completion Two years full-time Varies; usually less than a year
Common Graduation Requirements - Around 30 semester hours
- Capstone requirement or practicum
- Several graduate level courses
- Practicum
Prerequisites - Bachelor's degree
- RN license and experience
- Bachelor's degree
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *PayScale (December 2012 figures, 10th - 90th percentile). **Position typically requires experience in addition to a degree

Master's Degree Programs

Master's degree programs in nursing informatics may incorporate multiple disciplines, including psychology, biomedical engineering, business and computer science. These programs familiarize you with the use of information technology and information management, including specific items such as the Electronic Health Records system. Some programs may offer a research track in addition to the professional track.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Prepares you for most entry-level nursing informatics positions
  • Research tracks may be offered
  • Diverse curricula that include courses from different disciplines
  • Online and hybrid programs are available

Cons

  • May have to meet work experience requirements to apply
  • Undergraduate degree in nursing may be a requirement
  • RN licensure may be required
  • May need to complete prerequisite coursework

Coursework and Requirements

Master's programs typically include courses specific to healthcare and information technology to lay a foundation for the courses that combine these topics. These programs may include a capstone experience in which you demonstrate your understanding of nursing informatics. Some of the topics you may study include:

  • Healthcare data
  • Clinical database design
  • Biostatistics
  • Healthcare delivery
  • Project management in health informatics

Online Programs

Online master's programs in nursing informatics are available. Despite these programs being offered fully online, you may still speak with an advisor over the phone to ensure that you're on the proper track with your schedule. While other programs may not be fully online, some courses may be offered online.

How to Get Ahead With This Degree

To set yourself apart from other individuals, you may want to gain experience documenting clinical processes and work flow. The ability to work on a team may also be considered a plus. You may want to be proficient with basic computer programs, such as Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Access. Some jobs may prefer you to have experience with Clinical Information Systems or Hospital Information Systems.

You may also seek certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). This organization offers the Informatics Nursing Certification credential. To be eligible, you must hold an RN license with at least two years of experience and the minimum of a bachelor's degree and meet continuing education requirements in informatics.

Certification Programs

Graduate certificate programs are offered through universities that grant master's degrees in health or nursing informatics. While the lengths of these programs vary, many require the completion of only a few courses. Some schools may allow the courses in their program to be taken for contact hours rather than academic credit to meet continuing education requirements.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Courses may be used for continuing education requirements
  • Programs can be completed by finishing several courses
  • Offer coursework similar to master's programs

Cons

  • Individually, these programs may not be sufficient for some jobs in nursing informatics
  • Not as in-depth as master's programs
  • Work experience may be favored during the admissions process

Coursework and Requirements

Certificate programs typically include an introductory nursing informatics course, followed by more specific topics. A practicum may be required for program completion. Some of the topics that may be offered in a certificate program include:

  • Clinical information systems
  • Introductory nursing informatics
  • Consumer health informatics
  • Computer technologies for nurse educators

Online Programs

A few online certificate programs are available, although they may be offered as health informatics rather than nursing informatics. Similar to their in-person counterparts, these programs typically require just several courses for completion. If you find an online program specific to nursing informatics, check to ensure that it is properly accredited.

How to Get Ahead With This Degree

You may want to develop additional experience working in nursing informatics, apart from your certificate program. This experience may offset some of the advantages that individuals with more experience in informatics have.

Similar to master's degree holders, you may want to be experienced with common computer programs and specific healthcare packages. Provided you meet the experience requirements, you may also apply for the ANCC credential.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. George Mason University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management
      • Master of Science in Health Informatics
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Health Informatics
      • Master: Management/Health Care Mgmt
      • Master of Healthcare Admin
      • Master: Nursing/Nurse Educator
      • Master: Nursing/Nurse Administrator
      • MS in Nursing
  • Online Programs Available
    3. The George Washington University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSHS in Health Care Quality
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Health Care Informatics
      • MS in Nursing: Health Care Informatics
      • MBA: Health Systems Management
      • MS in Health Care Administration
      • Master of Public Administration - Health Care Management
  • Online Programs Available
    5. American University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Healthcare Management - Informatics
      • MS - Healthcare Management
      • Master of Science in Management - Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration - Health Care Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    8. The University of Scranton

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Health Informatics
      • MBA - Healthcare Management
      • Master of Health Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Widener University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Wilkes University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.S. in Nursing - Nursing Informatics
      • RN to MSN - Nursing Informatics

Featured Schools

George Mason University

  • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management
  • Master of Science in Health Informatics

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Kaplan University

  • Master of Health Informatics
  • Master: Management/Health Care Mgmt
  • Master of Healthcare Admin

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The George Washington University

  • MSHS in Health Care Quality

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Grand Canyon University

  • MS in Health Care Informatics
  • MS in Nursing: Health Care Informatics
  • MBA: Health Systems Management

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American University

  • Master of Science in Healthcare Management

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Colorado Technical University

  • MS - Healthcare Management - Informatics
  • MS - Healthcare Management
  • Master of Science in Management - Healthcare Management

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Indiana Wesleyan University

  • Master of Business Administration - Health Care Administration

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The University of Scranton

  • Master of Science in Health Informatics
  • MBA - Healthcare Management
  • Master of Health Administration

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