As the concept of healthcare delivery systems continues a rapid evolutionary path in order to keep pace with technological advancement, the role of health information technology deployment has become fundamentally important within America's hospitals, community clinics, and private medical practice. The advantages provided by digitally storing massive amounts of patient data -- also known as the electronic health record (EHR) system -- have been empirically established, and even with the passage of federal legislation mandating the eventual shift to EHR methodologies, many healthcare providers have fallen behind in this capacity. Research has indicated that this alarming trend is not does not result from unwillingness on the part of medical center executives to adapt, but rather from the lack of institutional capability to process EHR data effectively and efficiently. In order to address this pressing issue, many major hospitals now employ entire divisions of informaticists, which include informatics experts specializing in nursing and clinical medicine who work to "ensure that important data are captured and aggregated in report formats that support the planning process & #8230; (while) making sure that EHR systems support nursing practice, nor detract from it, and that nurse, not database developers, guide nursing practice" (McLane & Turley). Employees trained in the use of informatics specialists are an essential personnel resource within a progressive health care delivery system because "information management, knowledge management, human-computer interface, cognitive and computer science, and project management skill sets are integral to successful patient outcomes" (McLane & Turley, 2011), which has made nursing informatics a thriving field that provides a steady abundance of employment opportunities. The following review of actual job listings for positions in the nursing informatics industry is intended to illustrate the various educational requirements, skill sets, qualifications and training that applicants must possess, as well as the broad array of duties and responsibilities associated with informatics in the professional setting.
The first position which was examined is that of Nursing Informatics Principal offered by the Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, Washington (Jobmine, 2013). The responsibilities listed by the employment ad include the ability to provide genuine leadership, the development and implementation of strategies and polices which support the corporate mission, a genuine willingness to collaborate with nursing, information technology, medical and other operational leaders define and pursue clinical nursing informatics initiatives pertaining to relevant inpatient and outpatient clinical areas (HIMSS, 2013). In order to qualify for this position applicants must have earned a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree -- or an equivalent level of education in science, humanities, or business administration -- and attaining certification by the Washington state RN licensing body is also required. Virginia Mason's administrative staff also prefers candidates for the Nursing Informatics Principal position to have between seven and 10 years of experience working with the inpatient or clinical setting, five years of experience in a managerial capacity, and three years working directly in informatics. Although exact salary information for this position was not provided, a comprehensive study of statewide averages for this specialized industry indicates that "with regards to Washington, you will find that the median average salary hovers around $77,038, and the highest salary averages around $95,829" (Nursing Informatics for All, 2013), meaning this particular job is likely to fall somewhere within this range.
The second position considered, that of Nurse Informaticist, is currently available at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital in Valencia, California and according to the employment listing "the Nurse Informaticist functions as a knowledgeable practitioner, and as a consultant, educator, and evaluator to maintain and improve system services, and to mentor clinician users to become better technology consumers" (HIMSS, 2013). The salary for this position was not included in the employment ad, but according to the statistics compiled by the organization Nursing Informatics for All, "with regards to California, the median average salary is around $80,819, and the highest salary averages about $99,660" (2013), which means the state falls on the higher end of the national nursing informatics salary spectrum. In order to equip myself for the requirements of this highly sought after position, it would be advisable to consider enrolling in classes through Kaplan University, a leading online accreditation program that provides students with a wealth of targeted educational opportunities through their Nurse Informatics MSN program. The courses contained in this program cover the "critical concepts and core competencies necessary to become a nursing informatics specialist, the latest innovations in educational and research technologies, integration of informatics into the health care environment, health systems project management and nurse informatics specialist practicum" (Kaplan University, 2013). Although having earned an MSN degree is not an explicitly stated requirement for this position, I believe this would be an extremely useful to pursue in order to maximize my potential of being chosen from among a talented group of prospective candidates. The greater amount of subject-specific informatics education one is able to attain during the pursuit of this position should be considered to be a highly beneficial strategy, because hospital administrators and human resource directors prefer to hire informaticists who are capable of utilizing the latest software, expertise and other knowledge. There are several organization which are dedicated to assisting students nursing informatics professionals with this process of continual educational improvement, including the American Nursing Informatics Association (ANIA), the Alliance for Nursing Informatics (ANI) and the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), each of which provides members with access to nursing informatics news as it develops.
The position of clinical data specialist offered at the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Alexandria, Virginia requires a close familiarity with the EHR methodology and the ability to quickly learn the navigation processes of continually adapting informatics systems.
The fact that every clinical data system employs unique medical terminology is also an important factor to consider during the application process, so applicants who take the time to learn the nomenclature are at a decided advantage in terms of employability. Although a background in computer-based analysis and health information technology is considered to be an essential skill for aspiring clinical data specialists, educational attainment beyond a Bachelor's degree is not a prerequisite for consideration. It would seem to be a reasonable conjecture that applicants who possess a second Bachelor's degree in computer technology would be viewed as ideal candidates. This crucial step to improve my viability in the eyes of hospital administrators and healthcare organization hiring managers could be accomplished by attending the ITT Technical Institute in Springfield, Illinois, or the educational process could be extended by enrolling in an accredited institution offering a respected MSN in Computer Science program, such as University of Illinois at Springfield. The optimal curriculum for students hoping to secure a position as a clinical data specialist would combine the fundamentals of computer programming, data structures and algorithms, and programming languages with foundational components of nursing philosophy. While no specific salary range for this position was provided, according to O*Net Online (2010) clinical data specialists earn a yearly salary of $75,560 on average. To stay current on innovations within the realm of nursing informatics, I would also be sure to take advantage of the extensive online medical library offered by the American Society of Clinical Oncology. This tremendous research resource provides access to contemporary scholarly journals featuring empirical research on nursing informatics, which would keep me updated on ways of integrating the latest technology, popular methods for effectively implementing innovative ideas, and assist in the formulation of workable solutions to any potential problems I may encounter.
Hoping to infuse a sense of functional modernity into their sprawling medical facilities, the Bacon County Hospital and Health System (BCHHS) of Alma, Georgia elected to join the Georgia Telemedicine Program (GTP) in 2005, and through the implementation of specialized informatics systems many aspects of the hospital's healthcare delivery system have since been significantly improved. Adhering to the stated mission of the BCHHS to "provide compassionate and comprehensive community healthcare that is cost effective," the multi-tiered health system which spans multiple campuses underwent the transition to EHR, with the overall objective of standardizing its procedures and streamlining its processes through the use of informatics. According to the Georgia Partnership for Telehealth (GPT), one hallmark of the BCHHS' inclusion in the program is the hospital's status as a hub within "the Open Access Network, which is a web of statewide access points based on strategic partnerships with successful existing Telemedicine programs & #8230; to maximize opportunities for timely specialty services" (2012). One of the pillars of the cooperative relationship between the BCHHS and the GPT is the emerging field of healthcare informatics, which "brings together the various health sciences (eg, medicine, nursing, public health) and other relevant fields including information science, computer science, and cognitive science & #8230; to promote the effective organization, analysis, management, and use of information in health care in order to facilitate optimal health care delivery" (Travers & Mandelkehr, 2008).
There are many benefits afforded to physicians, nurses and supplementary staff working at the…