Why I left bedside nursing and went into Nursing Informatics/IT
Updated: Aug 22, 2022
(I went from bedside nursing to working from home. Read how below)
I graduated nursing school in 2010 and worked on a cardiac floor for 4 years. I had a wonderful experience but after the 1st year I knew I wanted to further my nursing education. Here are a few reasons why:
Advanced practice nursing earns more money
Advanced practice nursing opens more doors
My university hospital paid the tuition for full-time employees (your employer might also!)
Now, I did not want to be a nurse practitioner or nurse anesthesiologist. Even though those are wonderful careers, I didn't feel like that was a good fit for me. I've always been kind of a tech geek and always thought that Nursing Informatics might be a good option.
*Many Nursing Informatics positions do not require a Master's degree. Read more about this further down below.
Here are some reasons I chose nursing informatics as my advanced nursing career path:
I had an interest in technology and thought it would be really interesting to combine that with nursing.
Technology is always changing and evolving in healthcare which I knew would increase job opportunities and job security for anyone pursuing a career in Nursing IT/Tech.
Let's face it - bedside nursing is very physical and puts wear & tear on the body. I'm 6'6" and knew I couldn't pull patients up in their beds forever without seriously injuring my back. I never have had back issues and didn't want them to start later in life.
There are so many different types of tech jobs for nurses and most organizations are eager to hire a nurse since they have the inside knowledge about how the technology can best help the end users (nurses, patient care techs, clinicians, providers, therapists, etc.)
Working in IT can be done virtually from home so there are lots of remote/virtual jobs available.
During my program clinicals, I interned with the Nursing Informatics department at the hospital where I did bedside nursing. During that time a job opportunity became available which I applied for. I got the job and I hadn't even graduated yet with my degree! I was a Nursing Informatics Specialist for 2 years. During that time I did the following types of work/tasks:
Training nurses on new technology. Medication barcode scanning was new and took up a big portion of my time during that era (2014-2016). I also trained nurses on biomedical device integration (BMDI), lab barcode scanning, new smart pumps (we switched to Alaris), and new functionalities within our electronic health record (EHR).
Met with healthcare leaders who wanted changes made within the EHR. I would listen to their requests and see if what they were requesting was possible. Sometimes I would also have to meet with the EHR analysts/coders to confirm if the requests could be done. I would be involved with the testing of the changes and sending out education.
Elbow support. At the start of any major implementation, I would be assigned to an area of the hospital to help the nursing staff adapt to the new change.
Emails. As an informatics nurse I got a lot more email than I did when I was at bedside. I had to answer all kinds of emails about issues and questions related to the EHR and other patient care technologies.
During my time as an informatics nurse, I started to see nurses who worked as analysts/coders within the EHR. We worked closely together when healthcare leadership needed changes made. I became very interested in that part of IT/Nursing and when a job became available I jumped on it. At some organizations an informatics nurse may also code within the EHR and be an analyst of the system. This wasn't the case at my organization. Here are some reasons why I left informatics nursing and became an EHR analyst:
I wanted to work even deeper with information technology and learn how to code and build within the EHR.
As an informatics nurse, I had to learn a little about the entire system. As an EHR analyst, you become an expert in just a part of the system. There are different teams that work on the EHR usually (i.e orders team, documentation team, reports, rules, etc). I was assigned to work on the documentation team.
At the beginning of this new role, I was allowed to work remotely at times from home. Today I work 95% of my time from home. The COVID pandemic definitely played a big factor in this. Working from home has been great and has saved me a lot of time in travel and a lot of money in gas and dress clothes. :)
As an EHR analyst, there are less meetings and 'classroom training' unlike the informatics nurse role. I liked the idea of being at my desk more and working on the task at hand.
So this blog post kinda delves into two information technology career paths for nursing. It also explains why I chose the path that I did and how. However, here is the good news:
The IT Nursing jobs that I have seen do not require a Nursing Informatics master's degree.
That's right. You don't need your masters degree to get one of these jobs. In fact, most of my nursing coworkers in my department do not have their masters degrees. The degree I have did help open some doors, however, I did not need it to get the job that I have today. If you are interested in getting a job in Nursing IT, I recommend you get involved with information technology somehow within your organization to get you some experience for your resume. Here are the best ways:
1. Become a super user. Informatics departments need help with training, go-live support, and many other implementations. When they reach out for help, sign up and volunteer. They will see your face and get to know you which will open doors. It also looks really good on your resume when you apply for informatics/IT jobs.
2. Ask your Informatics department how you can help. If you have not heard of them reaching out for assistance, I would try to find out their contact information and reach out to them yourself. Express your interest in working with them and gaining some experience. You could even ask to shadow them for a day.
3. Email them your ideas. Express your opinion on your EHR and how you think it could be better for nurses. Send them a nice email (try not to trash the EHR lol) and to kindly suggest some ideas you think could help nursing. I would also start or finish with stating how some of their recent changes have helped you at the bedside to establish a good rapport. This will help get your name out to them and also help you get to know the department better.
There are many more careers in Nursing IT that I plan on posting about soon in another blog. (I only went over two so far.) I would love to hear any questions or comments that you may have. Please leave them in the comments section of this post. Thank you for reading!