By Joyce Sensmeier, Senior Advisor, Informatics
We’re reminded during this pandemic of the urgent need for reliable data at the individual, organizational, national and population levels. Documenting care is primarily a nursing responsibility. But using data to inform patient care delivery, execute resource management and implement strategies, including timely public health reporting, is a shared responsibility across the healthcare enterprise. Key to our success is getting the data right – which includes capturing the right information at the right time in the right format, and making it consumable for each purpose. Increasingly, nurse informaticists are the driving force behind this mandate, as results of the HIMSS 2020 Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey suggest.
As we celebrate the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, it’s a unique opportunity to recognize the increasing importance of the nurse informaticist. Informatics nurses develop, implement and evaluate applications and technology, ensuring the quality, effectiveness, efficiency and usability of those capabilities. Nursing informatics competencies include the ability to design, structure and represent data as information. These competencies are essential in today’s healthcare environment. The 2020 Workforce Survey, which captures data from a global audience of 1,359 nurse respondents, offers a number of key findings that highlight the value of the nurse informaticist.
HIMSS has been tracking nursing informatics workforce data since 2004. Noteworthy from this year’s survey is the number of respondents (41 percent) whose organizations now have a formal Chief Nursing Informatics Officer or Senior Nursing Informatics Officer role. Along with this increasing leadership status, salaries continue to rise, with nearly half (49 percent) of respondents making more than $100,000 per year.
Salary also correlates with level of education, as nearly a quarter (24 percent) of respondents with doctorates report making $151,000 or more per year. And more than two-thirds (70 percent) of respondents with 11 or more years of nursing informatics experience report earning more than $100,000 per year.
The number of respondents with any certification took a significant jump from 49 percent in 2017 to 58 percent in 2020.
Holding an informatics certification was also associated with higher salaries, with 56 percent of those certified earning $100,000 or more.
ANCC certification is the most common, held by 29 percent of nurse informaticists. And the average rating for the impact of certification on a career was 5.14 out of seven as compared with 4.96 in 2017.
Training and education continue to be priorities for nurse informaticists, and 2020 saw a significant rise in formal education. There was an uptick in the percentage of respondents (62 percent) who have a master’s degree in nursing (24 percent), nursing informatics (27 percent) or some other field (11 percent). In comparison, 59 percent of respondents reported having a post-graduate degree in any field in 2017.
Just over half of respondents work in hospitals or health systems that are designated with Magnet status (53 percent), up from 41 percent in 2014. Among nurse informaticists who know the EMRAM status of their hospital, 64 percent work at a hospital that has received a stage 6 or 7 EMRAM rating.
These results may correlate the increased value of informatics with health system achievements. Similar to previous surveys, 61 percent of respondents have more than 5 years of informatics experience.
In 2020, 38 percent have been in their current role for longer than 5 years, an increase from 26 percent in 2011. And the majority of respondents (77 percent) report being highly satisfied with their informatics career choice.
On a personal note, nursing informatics has been my certified specialty for several decades. And I’m as satisfied with my career today as I was when it first began. It’s affirming to see the advancement of the specialty, and I’m pleased that HIMSS has published decades of workforce data to illuminate its positive trajectory.
If you are a nurse informaticist, we applaud you in this Year of the Nurse for your many contributions to improving health outcomes through data, information, knowledge and wisdom. If you represent an organization that includes nursing informatics leaders, we join you in appreciating what has been gained from their contributions. And for everyone else, I hope this information encourages you to consider nursing informatics as a potential area for future growth.