Workforce Development

Key Insights Into the Role of Nurse Informaticist

The nurse informaticist role is continuing to evolve along with healthcare—with the most recent HIMSS Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey illustrating a clear picture of how the career, which continues to be a vital role in healthcare, is changing.

While many areas are trending positively—namely job satisfaction and salary—other areas have remained largely the same, like the overall job responsibilities. However, new barriers to success appear to be emerging, and perhaps, not where you’d suspect.

Another key insight is that clinical experience and formalized education—like degrees, certificates and certifications—are on the rise, indicating that experience and professional development are a priority.

This shifting landscape highlights the critical need for this role within the wider healthcare ecosystem. Here is a breakdown of the eight key insights into the growing and changing role of the nurse informaticists.

1. Nursing Background

In terms of respondents’ clinical experience prior to becoming a nurse informaticist, more respondents (25%) indicated they had six to 10 years of experience than in the previous survey’s respondents (22%) in 2017. On the other hand, there was a noticeable decline in the number of respondents reporting having more than 20 years of experience at the bedside from 26% in 2011 to 19% in 2020.

2. Training and Education

Professional development continues to be a priority, and 2020 saw a significant rise in formal education. The percentage of respondents who have a master’s degree or PhD in informatics is 37% as compared with 31% in 2017. Those who have received a certificate in nursing informatics rose from 20% in 2017 to 25% in 2020. And 15% of respondents reported having completed a vendor/supplier certification, a new category in the 2020 survey.

On-the-job training continued its downward trend with 54% of respondents reporting they engaged in it as compared with 56% in 2017 and 58% in 2014.

3. Certification

The number of respondents with any certification took a significant jump from 49% in 2017 to 58% in 2020. In a new question for 2020, survey respondents selected enhanced credibility and marketability (49%) and personal satisfaction (45%) as top reasons to pursue certification. These answers also topped the list when asked about perceived value of certification, although personal satisfaction (81%) edged out over enhanced credibility and marketability (78%). Certification was again found to have a fairly high impact on respondents’ career paths. The average rating for the impact certification has on career was 5.14 out of seven as compared with 4.96 in 2017.

4. Informatics Career

Nearly a third (31%) of respondents reported having more than 10 years of experience as a nurse informaticist, the same as in 2017. However, the percent with less than a year of experience increased from 8% in 2017 to 14% in 2020. The number of respondents who have been in their current role for more than five years also increased a substantial amount from 31% in 2017 to 38%.


5. Career Satisfaction

Satisfaction of respondents’ current position and their career choice in informatics was rated using a one to seven scale where one was not at all satisfied and seven was highly satisfied. Just over half (51%) of respondents indicated that they were highly satisfied with their current position (score of six or above), which is down seven percentage points from 2017 (58%). The majority of respondents (77%) reported being highly satisfied with their informatics career choice, which is down a more modest three percentage points from 2017 (80%). Overall, respondents seem to have remained quite satisfied with their choice of career in informatics but not as satisfied with the current position they hold.

6. Job Responsibilities

About a third (36%) of respondents manage at least one direct report with 19% managing between one and five employees. Another 8% manage six to 10 employees. This year’s question about job responsibilities also included two new categories: project management (30% of respondents) and change/control management (26% of respondents).

The top job responsibilities continue to be systems implementation (44%) and utilization/optimization (41%). While systems development is still in the top three job responsibilities, only 34% of respondents report currently working in this area.

7. Salary

The number of respondents earning more than $150,000 a year stayed the same (11%) since 2017. The number of respondents making $131,000 to $150,000 rose by four percentage points in the same time period, and those making $116,000 to $130,000 increased by three percentage points. As with previous years, the majority of respondents (63%) stated they earn a base salary between $61,000 and $115,000.

8. Barriers to Success

Over the history of the survey, there has been a shift in the identified barriers to success as a nurse informaticist. In the 2004 and 2007 surveys, respondents identified the lack of financial resources as the top barrier while in 2011 it was the lack of integration and interoperability. In 2014 and 2017, a lack of administrative support and a lack of staffing resources were the primary barriers faced. This year, 21% of respondents chose IT priorities as the top barrier, followed closely by organizational structure (20%).

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