As all nurses know, learning doesn’t stop when they graduate from their programs and pass the NCLEX-RN. To stay current with new technology, best practices and updated procedures, nurses need to further their education throughout their careers. In addition, license renewal in most states requires RNs to complete a certain number of hours of continuing education (CEU). Whether seeking to satisfy a requirement, or simply to expand their skills and prepare for the future, more professional nurses are choosing to pursue educational programs in health informatics (HI).
The fast-growing field of health informatics (HI) is bringing new opportunities for nurses to enhance their clinical skills and become even more valuable members of the health care team. Health informatics uses technological innovation to control costs and bring improvements to patient care and health data management. With the expansion of the Affordable Care Act, the federal government will soon be requiring healthcare institutions to transition to electronic records. As a result, the demand for HI specialists to implement and maintain these systems is expected to be very strong in the coming years.
Fortunately for nurses, healthcare providers that are working to establish and implement new health information technologies need trained specialists who also understand how the healthcare system works. Because they have the foundational knowledge and patient care experience employers are looking for, nurses make excellent candidates for HI education.
A graduate-level health informatics certificate or or degree program can be ideal for nurses – especially when offered through online instruction. In distance learning programs, access to classes is no longer dependent on where you live or the hours you work.
Once you’ve completed your program, you’ll have more career options than ever before. You might remain working with patients as an RN, and work as a liaison between the nursing staff and the information technology department. You could become part of the team implementing new technology or assisting with the planning or launch of new systems. Some HI specialists focus on ensuring their employer’s compliance with state and federal regulations concerning health information management.
If moving out of direct patient care is ever in your career plan, having graduate-level HI credentials can position you to compete for advanced opportunities, in positions such as:
Many employers offer RNs tuition reimbursement for certain programs, which can make pursuing advanced education much easier. Contact your employer to find out if an opportunity like this is available.
Health informatics can be the perfect complement to CEU courses in mental health, medical error prevention, communication or HIV/AIDS. Regardless of your state’s continuing education requirements, you might want to consider enrolling in an HI graduate certificate or master's degree program. Not only will you acquire marketable skills that employers need now, but you’ll also position yourself to easily transition out of direct patient care, should that time ever come.