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What Is Nursing Informatics?

Nursing informatics

As a nurse, have you ever wondered about a career in nursing informatics? Though the two fields may not seem to have much in common at first, nurses can bring valuable skills into the world of computer science. 

The origin of nursing informatics 

The term informatics originated from a French word, “informatique,” specific to the field of applied computer science concerned with information processing (Dar et al., 2022). The American Nurses Association first recognized nursing informatics (NI) as a nursing specialty in 1992 and released the first publication of the NI’s Scopes and Standards of Practice in 1994.  

The first set of role competencies was published in 2001 (Cummins et al., 2016). Since accepting the NI as a specialty, the acceptance and job growth have grown exponentially.

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A growing field 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics classifies the field of informatics with Medical and Health Services Managers, which foresees a projected job growth of 28% between 2021 and 2031. The identified cause of the significant increase is the continued widespread demand for EHRs, creating a massive demand for knowledgeable employees in health information technology and informatics systems.  

Most other management occupations are only projected to see a 7% increase in job growth. According to the 2023 Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey, 60% earned an annual base salary of $100,000 or more, working in a typical 40 hours per week role.  

While this is an excellent role if you are looking for diverse work settings away from the bedside, including hospitals, clinics, and medical record and healthcare technology companies, 62% of informatics nurses work for a healthcare or multi-facility health system (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, 2023). 

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What is nursing informatics? 

Nursing informatics brings nursing and computer and information sciences together to look for solutions to problems within healthcare systems. Nursing informatics combines the art and science of nursing to ensure that healthcare providers have the knowledge and electronic tools needed to provide high-quality care. In simpler terms, nursing informatics interweaves the clinical documentation need and healthcare language with computer system languages and capabilities. 

The American Nurses Association defines nursing informatics as a specialty integrating “nursing science with multiple information and analytical sciences to identify, define, manage and communicate data, information, knowledge and wisdom in nursing practice” (ANA, 2014).

Expertise in informatics is valued for meaningful system changes. This includes training, nursing practice support, redesigning electronic health records (EHR) and systems designs, and gathering and applying data necessary to support clinical care. Critical data is extrapolated, interpreted, and used to create these meaningful changes. It then can assist in decision-making for companies and patient care. 

Cathy Menkiena, MBA, FACHE, RN-BC, FHIMSS, General Manager and Senior Vice President of Health Catalyst, states, “With a nurse informaticist guiding data-driven processes, educating nurses, and validating data quality, health systems advance data beyond the data platform so it reaches the nursing workforce to inform decisions at the frontlines of healthcare delivery.” 

Florence Nightingale and informatics 

The core of nursing informatics dates to the 1850s with the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale. Her compiling and analyzing of data led to the development of nursing protocols and improved sanitation during her time which is the essence of nursing informatics (Cummins et al., 2016).  

The scope of NI can be narrowed down to:  

  • Healthcare collection and promotion through the development and continued improvements of clinical nursing information systems, decision support systems, and medical diagnostics systems, all of which work to collect, store, and retrieve critical data.  
  • Continual system improvements with the intent to find the root causes of errors and work to minimize recurrence and other potential errors in care. 
  • Networking that has opened the doors to healthcare at a distance through services such as patient portals and telehealth service platforms.  

As technology continues to evolve at lightning speed, nurses are vital in healthcare technology to provide perspectives that build usable interfaces within healthcare that ensure patients are provided safe, quality care (Dar et al., 2022). 

The impact of informatics 

While informatics has dramatically changed nursing practice through the widespread use of EHRs, it has also significantly impacted research and educational practices. Informatics has made it easier to collaborate with peers worldwide. It opens access to online libraries and articles and provides access to multiple tools for gathering data. It even assists with disseminating research findings.  

In education, informatics provides media platforms for virtual reality scenarios, simulations, complex multimedia, and ways to interact with students worldwide. In the wake of the pandemic, computer-mediated communication is now essential in providing safe patient care.  

Informatics assists in improving the safety of patient care. This includes enhancing the care patients receive via communication within technology platforms. These platforms help coordinate care, manage data to improve and examine for outcomes of care. That makes it easier to research the best evidence-based practices through the use of electronic records that enhance care. 

Today, regardless of the working environment, most nurses use informatics in their daily work. Through interactive EHRs and computer system designs, nurse informaticists are building a bridge that links information technology with an intent to improve the quality of care in practice and education.   


  • American Nurses Association (ANA). Nursing Informatics: Scope and Standards of Practice. 2nd ed. Silver Spring, MD: ANA; 2014.