Becoming an Informatics Nurse: Going Beyond the Bedside

When I discovered nursing informatics and healthcare informatics, it was like a dream come true. I was completing my BSN coursework, and I began researching options to further my education in nursing. I realized fairly quickly that I wasn’t interested in most of the educational pathways that many of my nursing peers were following. Somewhere in the midst of that research, I stumbled onto “Nursing Informatics” and I knew it was for me. The stars aligned, the angels sang, and the fascinating world of healthcare information technology became my goal.

Becoming an Informatics Nurse

For months I researched ways to break into nursing informatics. It became increasingly clear that being a master’s prepared informatics nurse was not a guarantee of employment. However, It seemed that every job posting required informatics experience or at the very least five years in clinical nursing experience. At the time I only had three. I was also struggling with the concept of leaving my hometown. When I finally made the decision that I would need to start looking outside of my hometown for opportunities the magic started to happen.

Updating my resume was key. I tailored my resume to focus on my IT strengths. A friend of mine convinced me to highlight the fact that I was a blogger. Up until that point, I had always feared my employers knowing I was a nurse blogger. It was a hard decision that ended up being one of the best I’ve ever made. I was able to leverage the programming and technical skills I had gained from working with a database powered content management system to my favor. I was energetic and passionate in my interview and was finally given a chance to spread my nerdy nurse wings.

Clinical informatics isn’t the only place that nurses are flaunting their technology skills. Nurses are going beyond the bedside and connecting online with other nurses, physicians, and patients in an effort to promote better healthcare. There are many social networks where nurses are connecting online. However, there are some nurses who decide they need a bigger online footprint and start a blog or website.

Being a nurse blogger has given me an opportunity to have a digital soapbox and achieve a level of influence that I would not be able to attain in my local environment. It’s been incredibly empowering and has granted me the skills and confidence needed to secure a career in nursing informatics. By utilizing the web to share ideas, express opinions, and highlight information, nurse bloggers have the ability to be change catalysts. Nursing informatics has the potential to step up and utilize the web as a mechanism to educate patients as well as conduct research to determine the best way to reach the largest audiences to promote better care and healthier communities.

This article was originally appeared as part of a effort of HIMSS, in collaboration with the American Nurses Association, the Alliance for Nursing Informatics. It was to be part of a “leave behind” as part of the 2012 US Congressional Nursing Caucus.

You can read more stories about nursing informatics here.

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9 thoughts on “Becoming an Informatics Nurse: Going Beyond the Bedside”

  1. selfemployednurse

    Enjoyed your personal story! Everyone has accepted the fact that blogging is a must for the self employed to advertise their business. However,  I often wondered if nurse bloggers were successfully leveraging their status and experience as nurse bloggers to obtain jobs. Seems like it not only got you the job, but is also helping you advance in the workplace!

  2. Registered Nurse

    You are right. Nursing Informatics may give reasonable opportunity for nurses. Nurses with Nursing Informatics Certification may occupy jobs at management levels as Nursing Informatics teaches the nurse management, analysis, coordination, integration and development of new health care policies for public populations as well as for small locations. A few nurses may also find careers in public policy development, research, evaluation and in educational health care niche areas.

  3. I was privileged to work as a bedside nurse (pediatrics) and loved my work and my fellow staff, along with the young patients and their families. I was half way through my BScN when I had the chance to jump to Informatics, fueled a great deal by two things: My statement in all of first year training (1978) was “why isn’t this all on computers??”; and the fact that I had a wonderful instructor who was in Nursing Informatics from its early days and friends that had recently “jumped” into jobs such as I ended up taking.

    Stress? None, compared to bedside care! I knew within 3 months in Informatics I would live another 10 years longer due to enjoying the challenging but stimulating and enjoyable field of electronic health records and helping colleagues develop their skills with electronic records.

    1. Donna,

      You are so right.
      There is so much less stress in informatics.

      Even on our worst days I always remind my co-workers that nobody dies in IT.

      It’s challenging but also rewarding. So glad that I found this wonderful nerdy nurse job.

  4. Great article!

    I went into nursing because I knew about informatics. (I am a second career nurse who worked in IT before I became a nurse). I love what I did at bedside (I work in specialty rehabilitation), but I have an informatics job that combines both worlds. I am a telehealth nurse. My clinics allow patients to stay in our rehab center and do what they’re supposed to do–rehabilitate, not travel from appointment to appointment in our distant hospital system.

    Every day is an adventure, but every single day, I help make healthcare more accessible, friendly, and useful for patients. Technology is simply a tool that gets things done and can also make some wonderful things happen. Nursing is the part that ties it all together and makes the impact on patients.

  5. I just want to applaud you, Nerdy Nurse!! First off- you followed your passions. You knew what it was you wanted- in your heart and your gut- and you went for it. That takes courage, bravery, and commitment. Great work! I know many nurses who are interested in alternatives to the bedside, but either too afraid, too unsure, too lazy (for lack of a better term), or too set in their ways to make the changes that will really enhance their quality of life. Great job to you!!! I am so happy for you. Secondly, I wanted to share that your blog is amazing!!! It is so professional, advanced, and well-received that you should never be ashamed of letting anyone know you are a nurse blogger. You are doing an amazing service to other nurses and the profession! Being able to come here and read posts and learn new things is empowering and uplifting. I enjoy the variety of topics!! I hope one day my blog holds the same esteem and recognition that yours receives. Maybe even one day I can post an article here for you! But great work and just absolutely amazing job to you!!! I loved this post as it is great to be able to put a bit more background to the gal behind the computer screen. Thank you. Have a healthy day, Elizabeth

  6. I applaud you for pursuing your dream. One of the things that excites me about nursing is that there are many different paths to choose from, and Informatics is one of them.

    I am changing careers *to* nursing fairly late in life (I’m 43 and just got my RN) and am actually a computer database/data warehouse analyst presently. One of my options at the point I’m choosing my master’s program will be Informatics because my particular computer background (of 20 years) is tailor-made for Medical Informatics.

    Right now, getting back into computer is the very LAST thing I want to do. However, it’s nice to know the option is there if in 10 years I’m struggling physically or have reached a point where I don’t want to do patient care again.

    And I *love* your blog and have it fed to my RSS for updates. 🙂 Keep writing it, please!

    1. Thanks for your lovely comment. Anytime I read that someone enjoys this little nerdy space on the internet it warms my heart. I think you’ll find nursing to be a nice reprieved from your job in data analysis, but I also think that you’ll find that you’ll know what is needed to improve EMRs with a few years experience.

      One thing I can say that I appreciate about working in informatics is that nobody dies in IT.

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