Nursing Informatics: What It Is and How to Get Started

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Nursing informatics is a fast-growing field that blends patient care and technology. Find out more about the role, salary, educational requirements, and more.

[Featured image] A nursing informatics specialist in maroon scrubs accesses a patient database at a standing workstation in a hospital.

Data has become an important part of many industries, including health care. Nursing informatics is part of that development. It's a nursing specialty that combines patient care with data and technology to improve the quality of care and outcomes.

As the majority of hospitals—and many provider offices—move to an electronic health records (EHR) system or an electronic medical records (EMR) system, nursing informatics professionals have an opportunity to make a big impact on the health care industry. As such, they're in demand. The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) anticipates the addition of 70,000 nursing informatics roles in the next few years [1]. What's more, these roles often pay higher than average salaries in the nursing field.

In this article, we'll go over what it looks like to work in nursing informatics, the education and experience needed to get started in these roles, and the types of jobs you can explore. 

What is nursing informatics?

Nursing informatics is the practice of using data and technology to improve patient experiences and outcomes, among other goals. Nursing informatics specialists (sometimes called nurse informaticists or informatics nurses) work with EHR and EMR systems in a variety of ways: maintaining, optimizing, collecting, and analyzing.

This role often requires individuals who have a nursing background, an interest in working with technology, an ability to manage information, and certain workplace skills, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication.

Why is nursing informatics important?

Technology continues to shift the health care industry. As of 2021, 96 percent of hospitals in the United States had adopted an electronic health records (EHR) system [2]. Working with electronic medical records has now become an expectation for many nursing professions.

Nursing informatics combines the fields of information technology, data analysis, and health care to provide evidence-based approaches to nursing and health care in general. It's important for a few reasons:

  • It ensures the proper maintenance and optimization of electronic health care systems

  • It allows specialists to collect and analyze relevant patient data

  • With that data, specialists can build important reports that they share with other clinicians to improve patient care

Patient care can be subjective in many ways, but nursing informatics aims to use data-driven approaches to nursing that will improve patient care in a meaningful way and enhance the clinical experience for both providers and patients.  

What does a nursing informatics specialist do?

Nursing informatics specialists regularly work with EHR and EMR systems in several different ways. The 2020 HIMSS Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey found that the top three responsibilities of nursing informatics are systems implementation (44 percent), utilization/optimization (41 percent), and systems development (34 percent) [3]. Let's break these down further.

1. Information management

As a nursing informatics specialist, you will implement data-related processes, which you then monitor and manage. For example, you might decide how to enter data into an organization's EHR system properly.

You may also be responsible for finding ways to optimize current processes using a clinic's EHR system, and troubleshoot any issues that come up when nurses and other providers use the system.

2. Communication and training

A nursing informatics analyst communicates processes to different teams, and often educates clinical staff members on the importance of these processes. Given their knowledge of health care and technology, they're uniquely situated to make sure other providers understand different processes and how to go about them.

3. Data validation and reporting

Like putting together the pieces of a puzzle, an essential part of a nursing informatics role is assessing the validity of available data and making something of it. The profession often requires someone with a clinical background since they need to interpret the data being collected in a useful, meaningful way.

Once interpreted, nursing informatics specialists often communicate those findings to other providers and clinicians.

What does it take to work in nursing informatics?

Working in nursing informatics typically requires at least a bachelor's degree in nursing, a license as a registered nurse (RN), and additional training in informatics to gain the necessary technical skills that the role requires.

In nursing informatics, experience is crucial. Given the clinical data that nursing informatics specialist work with—and have to interpret—some amount of nursing experience or experience in a health care setting is typically necessary.

Let's review three of the educational types that many nurses pursue when they're interested in working as a nursing informatics specialist.

Informatics training

Many universities and professional organizations offer courses or certificate programs so you can learn more about nursing informatics or health informatics and develop the technical skills required to work in the profession.

Nursing informatics coursework can include:

  • Information technology management

  • User-training strategies

  • Information systems in health care

  • Leadership and management techniques

  • Information technology project management 


Employers increasingly expect certification given the highly technical nature of nursing informatics. In the US, the American Nursing Credentialing Center's Informatics Nursing Certification (RN-BC) is the exam necessary to become certified as an entry-level nursing informatics specialist.

To take the AANC exam, you need an active RN license, at least two years of nursing experience, and 30 hours of continuing education in nursing informatics. You'll also need to meet practice hour requirements.

Master's degree

A nursing informatics specialist tends to be an entry-level role in the field, but with a graduate degree, you may find that you can pursue more senior-level opportunities. Earning your master's degree in health informatics or Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) are two of the more common pathways to advance your knowledge of nursing informatics.

Holding a master's degree as a nursing informatics professional continues to increase. The 2020 HIMSS Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey found that 66 percent of respondents had a master's degree [3].

Learn more: Your Guide to Nursing Degrees and Certifications

Nursing informatics: salary + job titles

Nursing informatics specialists earn an average base pay of $121,713 a year, as reported by Glassdoor in April 2023. Your years of experience, certification, level of education, and the employer could all potentially increase your annual earnings. 

Learn more: Health Informatics Salaries: A Guide

Job titles for nursing informatics

After working as a nursing informatics specialist, you may find several pathways available to pursue, including:

  • Nursing informatics educator: In this role, you create systems along with other nursing informatics specialists, but you also lead trainings and create training materials and methods for other nurses and professionals to use. You may work in academia or in a health care facility. Experience and a graduate degree, as well as certification, are requirements. 

  • Nursing informatics consultant: Once you have worked in nursing informatics for several years, you may be ready to move into an upper-level position like this one. In this role, you might train staff on information systems, manage projects, and even help to develop software systems and other solutions for industries like ambulatory care centers, hospitals, nursing homes, government health facilities, and more.  

  • Nurse executive: This role involves a shift from purely informatics to also including health care administration, which is another widely growing field in health care management and information technology. Nurse executives also work with patients indirectly, improving patient care in similar ways to a nursing informatics job role. To become a nurse executive, you’ll just need to earn the appropriate nurse executive certification. The core educational requirements are still the same. 

  • Chief nursing informatics officer (CNIO): You can move into this position after working as an entry-level nursing informatics specialist, gaining certification, and earning an advanced degree. In this role, you oversee and manage other informatics professionals. Since this is considered a senior-level position, professional experience is a must. 

Improve your nursing informatics leadership skills

If you've been working in nursing informatics and want to strengthen your leadership and training skills, consider enrolling in the University of Minnesota's Nursing Informatics Training and Education, offered on Coursera. The course covers how to choose the best resources and major leadership skills, among other topics.  

Article sources


Cision News Center. "Nursing Informatics in High Demand," Accessed April 26, 2023.

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