Think back to what technology was like in 2004. E-mail was common place but we hadn’t made the leap to social media like Facebook and Twitter. Blackberry was the “it” phone as referenced in this gem from 2004, Can Anyone Topple Blackberry?, I think we all know the answer to that: Yes. A wide variety of smart phones have taken its place.
Just as general technology has changed over the past decade, so too has the field of nursing informatics. In February, HIMSS released its most recent survey on nursing informatics, which spans back to 2004. Here are some findings on the state of the field from the HIMSS 2014 Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey, followed by a few questions the results raised we me.
Nurse Informaticist Education
Out of 1,047 respondents, 60% had post-graduate degrees with 43% of that being MSN or PhD degrees in nursing. 43% of the respondents were enrolled in informatics education or training programs, be it a formal degree program or non-degree program or course. Advanced Practice Registered Nurses made up 12% of respondents. Of that 12%, Clinical Nurse Specialists made up 24%, Nurse Practitioners made up 13% and 6% were Nurse Informaticists.
48% of respondents said they had specialty certification and 23% of those certified were certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Of those having certifications, 41% said their perceived value of certification was personal satisfaction, 40% said it enhanced credibility and marketability, 35% felt certification validated specialized knowledge while 28% said it enhances confidence. Another 28% said it provides a competitive advantage and 27% said it signifies achievement of practice/clinical standards. 57% of respondents said they would be pursuing certification in the next year.
My question: What would be the best course of study for a nurse interested in informatics? Should they go directly for an MSN or PhD or start out with a certification or non-degree program?
The survey asked nurses to share how many years of clinical experience they had. 28% of respondents said they had more than 20 years clinical experience while another 28% had between 11 and 20 years experience. The number of nurses with between one and five years experience was 20%, up from 12% in 2011. This may be a sign that roles for nurses in informatics are growing, needing more nurses to fill more roles.
Nurses with med/surg experience made up the largest percentage of respondents. Next were those with critical care experience and in descending order, administration, emergency nursing, ambulatory clinic, pediatrics, perioperative, quality improvement and long-term care.
My question: Are the nurses with less experience younger than those with 20 years experience? Does that mean that being a “digital native” benefits those interested in becoming nurse informaticists?
Hospitals make up the bulk of those employing nurse informaticists with 58% reporting they worked in the hospital setting. Another 13% said they worked at the corporate offices of a healthcare system. 7% worked in academic settings while government agencies, vendors and consulting firms each had 4% of the nursing informatics workforce. Interestingly, the number of those working in hospitals increased by 10% since the 2011 survey and those working at corporate offices decreased by 7%. The number of nurse informaticists working for vendors also decreased since 2011.
Magnet designation, formal recognition of nursing excellence by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, seems to be tied to the use of nursing informaticists. Of those working in nursing informatics in the hospital or healthcare system setting, 41% said their hospital (or one within the system) had received Magnet designation.
My question: Does the number of Magnet-designated facilities employing nurse informaticists mean that the presence of these nurses is a best practice that improves patient care and outcomes?
While they may have many years of clinical experience, nursing informaticists are not being asked to perform direct clinical care in their roles. 77% reported they did not spend any time performing clinical duties while 17% reported less than a quarter of their time was dedicated to clinical care.
Rather, these nurses are involved in systems implementation including training and supporting users. 39% said they are involved in systems optimization and utilization, while systems development was selected by 38%, which is down from 53% in 2011.
When asked about the applications with which they had the most experience, 90% said nursing clinical documentation. Other areas nurse informaticists reported having experience with were EMR/EHR (84%), CPOE (81%), non-nursing clinical documentation (74%) and eMAR (73%).
My question: How do nurses who aren’t working clinically ensure that the appropriate technology and systems are being selected to fit clinical processes and care?
53% of respondents said they reported to the IS or IT departments. The number of nurse informaticists reporting to the nursing department was 30%, a 2% decrease from the 2011 survey. 67% of respondents said they had no direct reports.
However, 30% said their organization did have senior level nursing informatics executives like a CNIO. According to the respondents, 41% of these executives reported to the CNO/CNE while 25% reported to the CIO.
My question: Does it make more sense for nurse informaticists to report to the nursing department or to IT/IS?
When it comes to barriers to certification, 45% of respondents cited lack of time as their top barrier while 18% said the top barrier was lack of financial sources.
My question: How can these barriers be removed to help nurse informaticists be successful?
Jennifer Thew, RN, MSJ
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