What is an informatics nurse and could it be a good fit for you?

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Sure, the mean annual salary doesn't come close to the $169,000 you could make as certified registered nurse anesthetist (and face it, no nursing pay ever will), but informatics nurses are still in the top-paying nursing specialities and they make very good money.

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In a 2017 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society survey of informatics nurses, 46 percent of respondents said they made more than $100,000 annually, an increase of 13 percent over the 2014 study.

But even with the paycheck question answered, you probably still have several important questions about informatics nursing. Look no further for the answers:

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What the heck is an informatics nurse?

Don't feel bad if you're not up to speed on the definition. While the HIMSS has been surveying members of the profession as far back as 2004, it's still an emerging field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics hasn't even corralled salary data for the job yet. But here's the essential job description according to HIMSS: "Nursing informatics (NI) is the specialty that integrates nursing science with multiple information and analytical sciences to identify, define, manage, and communicate data, information, knowledge, and wisdom in nursing practice."

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The job applications are varied, both in level of expertise and who the nurse works with. The support could go to fellow nurses, patients or a vast interprofessional healthcare team. NI professionals might focus on tasks as varied as workflow redesign, patient privacy issues and human-computer interactions, according to the College of St. Scholastica. And as medical technology and data tracking needs grow and expand, so will the role of informatic nurses.

What nursing work is available?

According to HIMSS, 42 percent of informatics nurses work at a hospital and 15 percent have jobs at other multi-facility health systems. Almost half have jobs at a magnet-designated hospital, an increase of almost 10 percent between the 2014 and 2017 surveys.

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And the field has few limits in sight, according to University of South Florida: "The field of health informatics is so broad and wide-reaching that those with the right training and credentials could hold many different titles. For example, a master's degree or graduate certificate in health informatics can lead to a new career in positions as diverse as a health informatics consultant or director, nursing informatics specialist, chief medical information officer, health information system application designer or compliance officer."

Will this hot nursing career cool off?

Those who enter informatics nursing are increasingly part of the IT workforce and there is a really strong forecast for those jobs in the U.S. The BLS, for example, calls for a 15 percent increase in all IT technician jobs through 2024 - more than double the national average growth rate for all occupations.

If instant gratification is more your thing, consider that LinkedIn put data science at the top of its "Most Promising Jobs for 2019," noting a 56 percent year-over-year increase in job listings in the field from 2018 to 2019.

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What education is required? 

A bachelor's degree is usually the minimum for a nurse informaticist position; more often, a master's degree is required. And if you're setting out to join the informatics nursing wave, be prepared to work among some highly educated peers. According to HIMSS, 57 percent of respondents to their 2017 survey had a post-grad degree and almost half - 41 percent - still had plans to seek more informatics education.