Encouraging Informatics Growth in Nurses


If you wanted to create an environment for nurses to be motivated and grow into the informatics professions, what are some of the things you would do?

Answers from Mark Sugrue::

I think it is our obligation as current day Nursing Informatics leaders to pass the torch to the next generation in order to continue the work that our pioneers started and that we so passionately pursue.  To do this we must create a sustainable, professional environment that fosters growth and development at all levels.

Lead by Example

Without question the first step in creating this environment is to develop leaders within the profession who are role models for all.  Luckily, in Nursing Informatics we have outstanding leadership in all areas of nursing informatics practice!  These leaders have not only demonstrated the immense value of Nursing and informatics they have tirelessly worked to support the profession and promote its growth.  One can look to the past recipients of the HIMSS Nursing Informatics Leadership awardfor some stellar examples of Nursing leaders who are making a difference day in and day out and are leading by example.

Define and refine the competencies

The next step in creating an environment that promotes growth and development is to clearly define the competencies by which novice to expert members of the profession are judged. While still in its infancy, the field of Nursing Informatics has evolved significantly over the last few decades.  We continue to expand the profession and welcome the opportunity to demonstrate the value that nursing informatics can offer across many settings.  As a profession, we need to recognize that there are multiple levels of our practice ranging from the very new novice Nursing informatics professional to the expert who may specialize in one or more domains.
Founded in 2006 the TIGER (Technology, Informatics, Guiding, Education, Reform) initiative was a grass roots effort to begin to define the competencies that enable nurses to use informatics in practice and education to provide safer, high-quality care.  TIGER, like the Nursing Informatics profession itself continues to evolve and change to meet the needs of our rapidly changing industry and care delivery environments. 

Reward and Celebrate

Lastly, we must create an environment where we recognize, reward and celebrate our successes.  So often we get caught up in our own activities of daily living that we fail to step back and bear witness to our accomplishments - large and small.  Nursing Informatics is at the core of a massive transformation in the health care industry.  While others may be distracted by the whirlwind of activity occurring in the industry, Nursing Informatics professionals remain laser-focused on our patients and providing the best information to support their care. 

Answers from Robert Kirchner:

I agree with Mark, we need to create a professional environment that fosters growth and development on all levels. In addition to what Mark stated we also need to provide proper mentorship.


I feel that in order to provide an environment for nurses to be motivated and grow in the informatics professions we need to provide a mentoring culture. Mentorship is defined as” Mentoring is a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capita and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development; mentoring entails informal communication, usually face-to-face and during a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the mentor) and a person who is perceived to have less (the protégé)" (Bozeman, Feeney, 2007). Nursing is known for “eating its young”. To prevent this from occurring we need to take the time to nurture and encourage our fellow informatics nurses. We need to provide an environment that is conducive to asking questions and we need to answer those questions completely and to the best of our abilities. We also need to provide clear and concise communication.  When providing explanations use language that is understandable and be precise.  Make sure the message is understood. In order to grow into the profession we need to provide as many learning opportunities as we can. The new informatics nurse needs to experience as many different situations as possible. Whenever a new learning experience presents itself we need to bring in the “newbie” so that they can learn and develop new skills. Look for these learning experiences to share with others.  We also need to keep them challenged on a daily basis. Not to the point that they feel overwhelmed but provide enough of a challenge that creates interest and desire in the profession. If the job becomes mundane and boring they will look for a different job. In addition, provide clear expectations. Not knowing or understanding what the expectations are creates confusion and anxiety. Again, clear communication is the key. And lastly, we need to provide constant feedback. If they are doing a good job let them know and if not, don’t be critical, use this as a teaching opportunity.

Bozeman, B.; Feeney, M. K. (October 2007). “Toward a useful theory of mentoring: A conceptual analysis and critique”. Administration & Society 39 (6): 719–739

August 2012