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The Future Is Nursing Informatics: How Nurse Informatics is Shaping the Future

Nursing Informatics is the ‘science and practice (that) integrates nursing, its information, and knowledge, with information and communication technologies to promote the health of people worldwide.

Healthcare is becoming increasingly digital. The medical world is focusing more and more on technology and how it can improve patient care. Are you interested in a career in nursing informatics? We interviewed Taofiki Gafar- Schaner, MSN, RN, who has worked as a nurse informaticist since 2020. We asked him about the world of healthcare informatics and he gave some valuable insights.

What Is Nurse Informatics?

“Nursing Informatics is the ‘science and practice (that) integrates nursing, its information, and knowledge, with information and communication technologies to promote the health of people, families, and communities worldwide’ (adapted from IMIA Special Interest Group on Nursing Informatics 2009).” In plain terms? Nursing informatics integrates the world of technology with the world of healthcare. 

Types of Informatics Roles

Nurse informatics is a broad term encompassing the technology-driven aspects of healthcare, specifically those relating to nursing. While nurse informatics is a vast field, examples of clinical informatics titles include: 

  • Nurse informaticist 
  • Nursing informatics specialist
  • Clinical nurse informatics specialist
  • Perioperative informatics nurse

Common Questions About Nurse Informatics

Taofiki provided a deeper look at the field of nursing informatics and answered some common questions about this role.  

The Nursing Beat (TNB): How do you get a job in nursing informatics? 

Taofiki Gafar-Schaner (TGS): Bedside experience is the best way to understand the majority of what you need for nursing informatics. Your daily experience with software like electronic medical records (EMRs) and hardware like interpreter devices, bladder scanners, or medication dispensing systems like Pyxis machines gives a foundation of nursing workflow. I recommend you join software or hardware projects looking for nurse superusers. This will give you first-hand experience on how IT and informatics work together to make system changes.

TNB: What degree do you need for nurse informatics?

TGS: While it is possible to get a Master’s degree in Nursing Informatics, it is not necessary. The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) and American Nursing Association  (ANA) each offer certification in informatics. These certifications may assist you in getting your foot in the door.

TNB: What types of continuing education are valuable for nursing informatics?

TGS: There are many organizations, national and local, that provide continuing education via online courses or conferences. I recommend continuing education that teaches about artificial intelligence (AI) and how it can improve healthcare in many ways. This will give you the tools to propose big-picture solutions to hospital leadership.

TNB: Do nurse informaticists work at the bedside? 

TGS: Most informaticists no longer work at the bedside. They rely on valuable feedback from bedside nurses to provide details of current workflows and methodologies when gathering data for the project or task they are working on. What I would like to see are more hybrid roles where nurse informaticists maintain their role at the bedside and perform their duties in informatics. This allows them to maintain close relationships with end users and have first-hand knowledge of how staff utilizes the technology provided to them.

TNB: What kind of informatics roles are available inside and outside the hospital/care setting?

TGS: There is typically one type of role within the hospital, and that is a Nurse Informaticist. This can be someone who creates the curriculum for educating new hires on how to use the EHR. They could have a data analysis role where they review clinical data and present it to leadership or staff. They could work side by side with IT to help deploy and educate clinical staff on new devices that will be used to care for patients. The core of [the job is] providing clinical staff with the best software or hardware to do their jobs more efficiently. 

Outside of a hospital, the role is broader. Nurse informaticists can work at big technology companies such as Amazon, Google, or Apple to assist with secret products that won’t be released for years to come. Amazon is pushing into the ambulatory care market, and they might need nurses with ambulatory experience. Some informaticists work for or consult [with] start-ups focused on improving care or access to specific patient populations - dialysis, CHF, COPD, etc. The [opportunities are] almost limitless.

TNB: What is the biggest challenge or drawback in nurse informatics?

TGS: One of the biggest challenges to nursing informatics is the role is not black or white. It is not a task-based job where things are tied up within a shift. Projects, enhancements, or fixing broken things within the EHR takes months to accomplish. Bedside nursing is sprinting, while nursing informatics is a marathon. Both leave you exhausted but for different reasons. 

Another drawback is the lack of connection between those you are serving and the improvements you are making. At times it can feel like a thankless job. When you help a patient, you see immediate physiological changes, and they sometimes thank you for the care you provided. As a nurse informaticist, communication with staff is primarily done via email. It can feel like speaking to a void.

TNB: What do you think is the future for nurse informatics as we dive deeper into technology at the bedside? 

TGS: I think AI will drastically change how we treat patients and assess the effectiveness of our work. In the future, we could have AI systems that give live feedback during a code because it reviews all the physiological data and is aware of what is being documented in an EHR. Code outcomes would improve drastically. 

[I think] the core role of a nurse informaticist - the bridge between IT and clinical staff - does not change, but the speed at which we gather data does. Reports and data analysis can happen within hours instead of days or weeks. This could free us up to engage more with end users via rounding and see first-hand how our changes impact the lives of nurses and patients. 


The role of nurse informatics is broad and positioned for massive growth over the coming decade. Conferences like the one hosted by Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) allow nurse informaticists to connect and collaborate outside the scope of their daily work. As technology at the bedside expands and becomes more and more extensive, the skills of nurse informaticists will become more sought after. The timing could not be better to explore a job in nurse informatics.

Taofiki Gafar-Schaner is a nurse informaticist working for a healthcare system and is the co-founder of SafeSeizure, a 2020 ANA Innovation Award winner.

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