What Can You Really Do With a Nursing Informatics Degree?

Charmaine Robinson, MSN-Ed, BSN, RN
Updated April 12, 2024
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A degree in nursing informatics can launch you into a rewarding career that combines nursing training with information science for managing and improving patient care.
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Nurse updating info on tabletCredit: Hiraman / iStock / Getty Images Plus

The electronic medical record (EMR) is more than just a library of patient information. EMRs serve as personal assistants to the nurse — flagging important reminders, compiling assessment findings, and updating care plans. While nurses enter data into the EMR on the front end, many play a role on the back end as well.

Nurse informaticists work in healthcare information technology (IT), using their clinical expertise to optimize EMRs and other patient care software. These nurses have a high earning potential and career opportunities in the field are expanding. Learn about a career in nursing informatics.

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What to Expect From a Career in Nursing Informatics

Nurse informaticists track and analyze enormous amounts of patient data, guiding clinical and administrative decision-making. They help healthcare providers meet ever-expanding technological needs These nurses often earn a competitive salary and have opportunities for career advancement. Earning a degree in health informatics in this rapidly growing and innovative field offers several advantages.

Improve Patient Outcomes

Nurse informaticists use their training to strengthen communication between providers and patients, and facilitate the flow of data within systems. As a result, they help healthcare facilities maintain patient safety, leading to improved patient outcomes.

Join a Rapidly Growing Field

Growing technology, data analysis, and artificial intelligence in healthcare will continue to drive employment opportunities in nursing informatics. The U.S. Department of Labor projects nursing informatics jobs to increase by 10% between 2022 and 2032, from 531,400 to 582,600.

Work from Home

Nearly 80% of all nurse informaticists reported working remotely at least once a week, according to the 2022 Nurse Informatics Workforce Survey conducted by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).

Nursing Informatics Professionals Earn Above-Average Salaries

Nursing informatics salaries are higher than those of a basic RN. The HIMSS survey reports that, in 2022, 60% of all nurse informaticists earned over $100,000 annually. The average RN salary is $88,000, per January 2024 payscale data.

Types of Degrees in Nursing Informatics

You can choose from a few educational pathways to prepare for a career in nursing informatics. The minimum requirement is an ADN degree and RN license. However, most positions require at least a BSN or bachelors in a related discipline such as health informatics or IT.

According to the HIMSS survey, 40% of nurse informaticists hold a BSN, 63% a master’s degree, and 10% a ADN. Although less than 10% of nurse informaticists hold a DNP, this number is on the rise.

Master’s Degree in Nursing Informatics

Though admission requirements for nursing informatics master’s programs vary, most schools admit students with an ADN or BSN and an RN license. A traditional master’s degree in nursing informatics usually takes two years to complete. Accelerated programs can last 12-18 months. Some programs may require one or two years of field experience.

The curriculum focuses on healthcare IT and systems. It may include healthcare policy, evidence-based practice, systems and project management, and workflow and systems. You will likely have to complete clinical hours or an internship.

Earning a master’s in nursing informatics can boost your earning potential, as 65% of all master’s degree holders earn more than $100,000 a year, with 40% earning more than $125,000.

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) With a Specialization in Nursing Informatics

A DNP degree focuses on clinical practice and leadership roles, while a Ph.D. tends to be more research-oriented. A DNP in nursing informatics prepares you for faculty positions in informatics and senior administrative positions in healthcare and related organizations.

A DNP curriculum in nursing informatics emphasizes statistics, data analytics, healthcare applications for technology, systems management, and leadership skills. BSN-to-DNP programs typically take 3-4 years to complete, while MSN-to-DNP degrees usually take two years or less to finish.

Earning a DNP in nursing informatics expands your career options and can significantly increase your salary. According to the HIMSS survey, nearly 80% of nurse informaticists with DNPs or the equivalent make over $100,000 a year, while 40% earn $151,000 or higher.

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Careers With a Degree in Nursing Informatics

Growing healthcare technology continues to expand career opportunities in nursing informatics. While most nurse informaticists work in hospitals or healthcare systems, a growing number work in clinics, long-term care facilities, research organizations, and educational institutions.

Nursing informatics is a specialized field with several role options to suit your skills and goals. Start with these most common positions:

Nursing Informatics Specialists

These professionals manage data and clinical information systems to improve the accuracy of patient data and boost care efficiency. They help design technological applications and systems that inform and support decision-making by patients and providers, make upgrades, and provide training to clinical staff on system use.

  • Typical Education Required: BSN and RN license
  • Median Annual Earning Potential:$91,280

Health Information Specialist

Health information specialists organize, code, and verify patient health data, including medical history, treatments, test results, and other services. They must be knowledgeable about EMRs/databases, state and federal regulations, and classification systems used for insurance reimbursement.

  • Typical Education Required: High school diploma or bachelor’s in health informatics or a related field
  • Median Annual Earning Potential:$47,180

Clinical Analyst

Clinical analysts work in hospitals and healthcare systems optimizing workflow and overseeing compliance with laws and regulations. They capture, process, protect, and store information in clinical databases, ensuring all data is documented and reported. They also train healthcare providers on the software use and may manage, install, and upgrade patient-oriented computer equipment.

  • Typical Education Required: Bachelor’s in nursing informatics, information science, or a related field
  • Median Annual Earning Potential:$76,440

Director of Clinical Informatics

Clinical informatics directors/managers oversee the EMR systems and clinical data for healthcare facilities. They also design and maintain IT systems to improve the collection and management of data. They must keep up to date with the latest technological tools and software, customize software applications to fit their employers’ needs, and recommend upgrades.

  • Typical Education Required: Bachelor’s or master’s in nursing, health informatics, or a related field
  • Median Annual Earning Potential:$103,710

Chief Nursing Informatics Officer

CNIOs are senior executives who create and direct strategies for the use of technology, data, and information systems in medical organizations. In collaboration with other team members, they use IT and data to support quality management and clinical resource management. They also oversee technological training for nurses.

  • Typical Education Required: MSN or DNP, RN license, certification
  • Median Annual Earning Potential:$134,680

Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing Informatics Degrees

Earning a degree in nursing informatics can offer you specialized skills, competitive salaries, and personal and professional fulfillment. According to the HIMSS survey, 76% of nurse informaticists reported being highly satisfied with their career choice.

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