Chris

Chris Smith works as a clinical analyst consultant with 9 years of experience working in the nursing informatics field. He started this blog to help others learn more about nursing informatics because he got tired of reading a lot of misinformation about this field on the web. You can connect with Chris on Google+

Nursing Informatics Salary By State in 2013

What is the salary for nursing informatics in 2013?

In 2011 HIMSS released a survey according to which the average salary in Nursing Informatics was $98,702.

Ever since then many blogs, magazines, and even newspaper articles have touted this figure as if it was a reliable average salary for nursing informatics professionals.

I have been working in the field of Nursing Informatics for the last 8 years, I have gone through a lot of job offers, and I have also been on the other side of the table, interviewing candidates and knowing that the nursing informatics salary range differs for different roles, especially in hospitals.

In my experience, most salaries, in their median average, don’t come close to the 98k preached by HIMSS. To demonstrate this, I extracted data from several cities from salary.com, I then averaged these salaries and the result is the graph below, where we can see the nursing informatics salaries in 2013.

To see state by state salaries, click on the corresponding abbreviations:

AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE FL GA HI
ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI
MN MS MO MT NE NH NJ NM NY NC ND
OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT
VA WA WV WI WY
Enlarge Graph
Why The HIMSS Numbers Are Misleading

The first thing to take into account is that the 2011 HIMSS Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey included ONLY 660 participants. Of these 660 participants, 56% have a post-graduate degree, including a Master’s in Nursing or other field/specialty and a PhD in Nursing or other field/specialty.

According to the HIMSS, 40% of the participants worked for organizations with annual gross revenues between $11 – 200 million, while more than 39% of the respondents had had a work experience as Nurse Informaticist for 10 years or more.

From this information in the survey we can easily deduce that nurses with a post-graduate degree, who worked in a nursing informatics role for around 10 years in a mid- to large-sized organization with annual gross revenues in the millions of dollars, have an average salary of $98,702.

On the other hand, what we can also deduce is that not all nurses have a post-graduate degree, that not all nurses have the 10+ work experience in the field, that not all nurses work for an organization with a revenue between $11 – 200 million, and then ultimately not all nurses will make it to an average salary of $98,702.

Also, one important thing that HIMSS forgets to mention is the geographical location of the 660 participants in the survey. Of course that in terms of salary, somebody in New York City will earn more than somebody in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Of course that the difference in salary is most likely dictated by the standard of living. So, question is, were all the 660 coming from NYC or Palo Alto? It looks like it to me.

More Nursing Informatics Salary 2013 Range Averages

Let’s take a look at the picture above, which shows nursing informatics salaries for NY as of Feb. 2013.

I’m comparing averages from indeed.com and simplyhired.com. These averages change daily and I specifically included them to show how difficult it is to come up with a “standard” nursing informatics average salary.

As of February 2013, we can see that the averages vary greatly from one site to another and that’s because the salaries are based on real salaries advertised by employers. The information is extracted from job posting with similar keywords.

But to translate this in real terms, let’s imagine the following scenario: an employer is looking for an an entry level analyst and decides to offer him/her a salary range in the $50,000, while another employer is looking for a nursing informatics director and offers him/her a salary of $120,000. Do the average between the two and you’ll reach $85,000. That’s how we get to crunch the numbers in these charts.

A More Realistic Look At Nursing Informatics Salaries

Personally, I like to use salary.com because the salaries listed there tend to pretty much reflect reality. Salary.com was (and still is) my point of reference when being offered different positions.

Let’s not forget though that we are still looking at salary averages and they may change based on the job role, location, degree, years of experience, demand for a specific skill, and experience a candidate brings to the role.

In my opinion, the salaries we see for the different cities in the graph above offer a better picture of the variation in salaries you may encounter when looking for a job. From personal experience I can say that smaller hospitals pay a lot less than bigger hospitals, and if you work in a small city or rural area, salaries will lower for sure than if you work in a larger hospital or bigger city.

Now, if you worked as a consultant, then your salary could be a lot higher than the average, specially if you take into account traveling expenses and per-diem rates these road warriors get. The same can be said for managers and directors in nursing informatics, since such positions tend to require a post-graduate degree.

On the other hand, if you are a nurse entering nursing informatics and you are offered a salary that doesn’t hover near the $98,000 advertised by HIMSS, don’t be disillusioned because that number is not really an accurate representation of what nursing informatics professionals are getting paid on average in the real world.

Like most nursing jobs, salary ranges for nursing informatics positions can vary a lot and you should pay attention when you do your research on the salary for the position and job title you apply for.

 

Nursing Informatics Salary – A Look At Informatics Salaries Across The Country


In my previous post, I talked about the reality of nursing informatics salaries based on the survey released by the HIMSS blog.

My basic argument is that those average salaries they display are way too high based on my own personal experience.

For a more realistic ‘survey,’ I gathered my own data from cities I selected from salary.com, and created the chart below, but if you want to see salaries by state, click on the corresponding state:

AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE FL GA HI
ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI
MN MS MO MT NE NH NJ NM NY NC ND
OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT
VA WA WV WI WY

 

A chart of average nursing informatics salaries
To obtain the chart above, I used the following data from salary.com.

Nursing Informatics Salaries Across Different US Cities

I did a search for nursing informatics, and the closest role that turned up was Clinical Informatics Coordinator, which the site defines as:

Responsible for the implementation and utilization of information systems required for patient care initiatives. Evaluates applications or vendors to best meet the needs of the organization. Provides technical training and support to end users. Requires certification as a registered nurse (RN).

That is a very close and concise description of most nursing informatics roles; I then plugged a city and got the results in the data shown above. Based on my past experience working and interviewing for jobs across different cities in the USA, I must say that this data is surprisingly accurate. I also talked to colleagues who work in some of these cities and they concurred. You can also go to salary.com and pull the same data for your own specific area.

To see state by state salaries, click on the corresponding abbreviations:

Since one of the queries I get is, what state pays the most, I also pulled the data solely on the data I collected and here are those results:

High Paying Cities For Nursing Informatics

Out of curiosity, I also sorted the data by lowest paying city:

Low Paying Cities For Nursing Informatics

You should note that the average salaries are in the range of 70k as I already wrote in a previous post. And some of these cities go even below this average, which only busts the myth that nursing informatics salaries start in the 90k range, as many entry level candidates seem to erroneously believe.

What is Nursing Informatics?

There are many places on the web where we can find the definition of what nursing informatics is.

According to the American Nursing Informatics Association, nursing informatics

is a specialty that integrates nursing science, computer science, and information science to manage and communicate data, information, knowledge and wisdom in nursing practice.”


As compact as that definition is, it doesn’t really tell me much, specially if a person has no experience in nursing or computer science, and that’s why I would like to explain what nursing informatics is, from my own personal experience.

However, if you’re satisfied with that definition, and you would like to explore other more pressing subjects such as,

How much do nurse informatics make?

Or

What’s a the difference between a clinical and nursing informatics analyst?

Or

You got an informatics interview coming up and you want to know what questions they might ask you, then feel free to explore some of the following posts on this blog:

Nursing informatics salaries

Nursing Informatics vs Clinical Informatics

Nursing Informatics interview questions.

Understanding What Nursing Informatics Is

Nursing informatics is a field within the field of health informatics, where people who have a nursing degree are involved in the implementation of a computer application in a hospital, nursing home, doctor’s office, public health clinics, or other healthcare setting.


The implementation of a computer application in any of these settings goes through different standard phases.

A project begins with the design and analysis phase, it moves to the configuring phase, then testing phase, training, implementation and support phase.

During each of these specific phases, a nursing informatics analyst will perform specific tasks and can also serve as a liaison between different departments within a healtcare facility to complete a project.

Briefly, during the design and analysis phase, the analyst collects data required to implement the project to the specific needs of a client.

In the configuring phase the data from the prior phase is used to build the system.

During the next phase, the system is tested to see if it’s working as needed, and then the users are trained to use this system.

Finally, the project is implemented and this is known as the go live. At this point the users are supported in case any issues might occur.

Designing And Analyzing

To illustrate these phases, let’s assume a hospital has a specific team of nurses who do wound care. This hospital decides to implement an electronic record for this group of nurses.

The role of the informatics nurse is to meet with the members of the wound care team and do the following: give a demo of how the system works; explain the possible ways that the system could be configured to meet the needs of these users; gather data related to specific fields that are charted by the wound care team; lastly, to understand how the workflow of this department works.

This part of the project is the design and analysis phase.

Configuring The Application

Once the informatics nurse gathers all this information, the system is then configured based on the data already collected and thus new workflows for the department can be defined or improved.

These workflows need to be also configured in the system. This process could be done by one person, but in reality, the system most likely needs to have different configurations which are assigned to different persons.

Example: one person could be in charge of collecting and uploading all the users to the database, while another person has to build the assessments the nurses will use. In smaller facilities though one person could run the whole show.

Testing

When the system has been configured, it needs to be tested to make sure that it works as designed and to make sure that no errors happen when the users operate the system.

Unit testing is a method to test specific modules of the system as a whole.

For instance, the person who collected and uploaded the users to the system could run a query or script to make sure that all the users are there.

The person who built the assessments could make sure that all the elements of the assessment are in place. Once each person has their own module working, integration testing happens. During this process, the modules come together and everything is tested from a to z to make sure everything works as expected.

Training

After testing is done, users are trained on how to use the system. This is an opportunity to see what their future system looks like and also to discover potential errors that need to be fixed. At the same time, the users get to see if the workflow makes sense. It so may happen that sometimes they realize that it doesn’t, so minor tweakings are done to the system to improve it.

Implementation And Support

When the system is at last implemented, the superusers (users identified by the informatics nurse as being able to navigate/use the system well), who were trained earlier in the project, help other users to navigate the new system. Also, when unexpected issues occur during a go live, it is the role of the informatics nurse to fix them or delegate them to the person in charge.

Nursing Informatics In A Nutshell

By now you might be wondering, so how is nursing informatics related to all this?

The informatics nurse can have different roles in the prior scenarios. Simply, they can be the liaison between the nurses and the developers or technical staff, or they can be the ones collecting the user requirements, setting up an application, or tweaking it to customize it to your hospital’s or clinic’s needs, or they can be out training users, or providing support once an application goes live.

However, depending on the size of the employer, these roles can be done by either a single person, or each role could be actually devoted to one person at a time.

For now though, be aware that nursing informatics is a broad and generic field where nursing science and computer technology merge to come up with solutions to meet or improve the quality care requirements for patients. Nurses take many roles within this field to make the magic happen, and on the next post, I will discuss the roles of an informatics nurse in greater detail.

Other topics you might be interested in:

What do informatics nurses do?
Interviewing tips for an informatics position.
Reader’s questions about nursing/clinical/health informatics

 

Questions? contact me through here

Nursing Informatics Or Clinical Informatics – What’s The Difference?


One topic that seems to come up often is understanding the difference between clinical informatics and nursing informatics. What’s the difference between the two?

Short answer: Nursing informatics jobs SPECIFICALLY require a nursing degree, while clinical informatics jobs may or may not. Thus, you don’t have to be a registered nurse to get a job as a clinical informatics analyst!

From my personal experience, the jobs in both fields are almost similar with the only difference, as mentioned before is that a nursing informatics person has a nursing degree, whereas a clinical informatics person can have a either a nursing degree or any other degree, which may not just be in the healthcare field.

The key to this conundrum is understanding the definition of “informatics” and the University of California at Irvine does a good job defining it as “the interdisciplinary study of the design, application, use and impact of information technology and the relationship between the technology and its use in real-world settings”

Also, check out my clinical informatics vs nursing informatics nurse post.

Clinical Informatics Vs. Nursing Informatics

Using this definition, we can specifically say that nursing informatics integrates nursing science in the study/application of technology, while clinical informatics is a broader term that integrates medical science, including nursing science, and sometimes even other fields.

Therefore, nursing informatics jobs might be specifically geared towards somebody who has a nursing clinical experience, while clinical informatics jobs could be performed by anybody in the healthcare field, such as a doctor, a pharmacist, a lab person, a radiology tech, a nurse, rehab therapists, etc.


Also, by defining the job title as clinical analyst, the employer may be looking to hire somebody who could be working in different departments of the hospital, not just nursing.

Nursing Informatics as part of Clinical Informatics
Clinical Analyst Vs. Nursing Informatics

And what does a clinical analyst do?

Essentially, they could work analyzing, configuring, training, testing, or troublueshooting any application within the hospital.

A clinical analyst could, for example, be hired to configure the radiology application of a hospital or vendor; or it could well be the ambulatory application used at Doctor’s offices; or they could be hired to train all the applications in the hospital; they could even be the project manager in the clinical informatics department; or they could be out setting up applications used in doctors’ offices.

The number of roles out there are plentyful.

A person in a nursing informatics position could be doing the same; the only difference might be that hospitals and vendors like to hire registered nurses to specifically work with applications that interact with nurses, but that doesn’t mean they cannot get a job configuring other applications that are not directly involved with nurses, such as a lab application or a patient registration application.

It is obvious that employers prefer to hire people with the relevant experience for a particular position.

As an example, it would be easier for a lab person to understand the workflow of a lab than a registered nurse who has never worked inside a lab.

What’s interesting to note though is that many jobs get advertised with the title of clinical analyst, and even clinical nursing analyst, and it is better to look for those titles when searching for a job, than just to simply look for ‘nursing informatics’.

Searching For Jobs

I have a nursing degree and I’m yet to hold a job with the word title of ‘nursing informatics’ or nursing informaticist.

Most of my job roles have been as clinical analyst, application analyst, application consultant, and some more.

My point is that many hospitals out there might actually have a clinical informatics department and when they list their jobs, they typically list them as clinical analyst jobs, but within those jobs, there could be jobs specifically requiring a nursing license, and the job title might be clinical analyst, instead of nursing analyst or nursing informaticist.

Of course, many hospitals do have nursing informatics departments, and within that department you’ll find specific nursing informatics jobs such as a nursing informatics trainer, or nursing analyst, or nursing application analyst, etc.

Therefore, it is essential to bear in mind is that when searching for jobs, you may find more jobs listed under clinical analyst, than under nursing informatics.

What Pays More?

After all these explanations, it goes without saying that the next question will be: so what pays more, nursing informatics or clinical informatics?

This is certainly difficult to determine. You could be a pharmacist with the title of clinical analyst and because of your pharmacy experience, your salary could easily be higher than somebody in a nursing informatics role.

However, you could be a nursing informatics person experienced configuring different applications, and because of your ‘diverse experience’ your salary might be higher.

There are simply too many factors which determine salary, but the good news is that there are many roles out in the field to choose from.

Clinical Analyst vs Clinical Informatics Nurse

Even though I had written a post about the difference between nursing informatics and clinical informatics in the past, I’m still getting a lot of questions about the difference between a Clinical Analyst and a Clinical Informatics Nurse.

This post is my second effort to try to explain the diffences between these titles.

What Is A Clinical Analyst?

Simply defined, a Clinical Analyst is someone who maintains, supports, and possibly develops a clinical software application.


A clinical software application is any application that is utilized in a health care setting to facilitate the work of a clinician.

There are tons of clinical applications out there:

The software used to schedule a surgery appointment can be considered a clinical application.

The software used to enter vital signs at a doctor’s office or in a hospital is a clinical application.

The software used to assess a rehab patient is a clinical application.

In fact, there as many different clinical applications out there as there are different types of clinicians in the healthcare field.

Clinical Analyst vs Clinical Informatics Nurse

As can be inferred from the section above, a Clinical Informatics Nurse is someone who has nursing experience and works with a clinical software application.

Furthermore, a Clinical Informatics Nurse can be at the same time a Clinical Analyst because a clinical analyst is just a generic name given to somebody who works with a clinical application.

However, a Clinical Analyst is not always a Clinical Informatics Nurse, since a Clinical Analyst can be any clinician other than a nurse, working with a clinical software application.

In other words, any clinician working with a software application can have the title of “Clinical Analyst.”

Non-Clinicians Can Be Clinical Analysts

You don’t have to be a clinician or have healthcare experience to be considered a Clinical Analyst.

Many times an employer like a hospital, will call a person who interacts with a clinical software application a Clinical Analyst.

A quick example of this is somebody who extracts data to write reports from a clinical application.

This employee could possibly only have IT experience in writing SQL reports, but because he/she is interacting with a clinical application, the title might also be, Clinical Analyst, or Clinical Analyst Report Writer, etc.  The classification of the job title is always up to the employer.

Thus again, the difference between a Clinical Analyst and a Clinical Informatics Nurse is that the Clinical Analyst does not necessarily have to have a nursing degree or, for that matter, a clinical degree.

The Roles and Responsibilities of a Clinical Analyst

One of the main roles of a clinical analyts is to be involved from one to all states of a project implementation.
I briefly covered these stages in my post, what is nursing informatics, and you can read the post to get an idea what happens in each stage of the project.

Other responsibilities of a clinical analyst include and are not limited to:


  • Serving as a clinical liaison between the clinical and technical personnel or IT department
  • Facilitating or developing process improvements by analyzing and updating current clinical workflows
  • Conducting or attending regular project team meetings to update members of project status and any issues that may impact the project success
  • Collecting requirements from users and writing up specific specifications to configure/update the clinical software application
  • Assisting with clinical reporting requests and presenting these to management
  • Providing on-call assistance as indicated by the job
How To Become a Clinical Analyst

Many people are under the false impression that you need a specialized degree to become a clinical analyst.

Most clinical analysts I know became clinical analysts simply by getting involved in the implementation of a project at their hospital, or they applied to a job with a vendor, or a hospital.

Are you a radiology tech? If so, what application is your hospital using to keep track of radiology orders? Who is in charge of making changes to the application?

Is the rehab department using an application to document their patient care? Who is in charge of maintaining that application?

If you’re working in a hospital as a healthcare provider, many times getting a job as a Clinical Analyst it is as easy as getting involved with the implementation of a project in your department.

This gives you a bit of experience in the informatics arena, and that experience can be translated to valuable interviewing experience which can eventually lead to a job.

If  you’re an IT person with no clinical background, browsing a hospitals IT job section can give you an idea as to what IT skills they are looking for.  Landing an IT job can eventually lead you to getting trained in configuring a clinical software application.

However, it is true that nowadays the field is becoming very competitive and that’s why many people are trying to get a degree in healthcare informatics to get a competitive edge in finding a job.

But if you’re persistent, you can land a clinical analyst job using your current healthcare background or IT degree, without having to get an extra degree.

Preparing For A Clinical Informatics or Clinical Analyst Position

Given that the difference between a Clinical Analyst and a Nursing Informatics Analyst position is simply a nursing degree, you can browse the other posts in my blog to get ready for a Clinical Analyst position:

Nursing informatics Interview Tips

Nursing Informatics Interview Questions

Informatics Resume Tips

Even though these links are geared for a nursing informatics position, the concepts remain the same for a Clinical Informatics or Clinical Analyst Position.

I have interviewed candidates for these jobs and all that changes is really the application and clinical workflow.

And as always, if you have any specific questions about informatics, don’t hesitate to write me: chrisnihq at gmail dot com

   

Nursing Informatics Certificate And Why You Might Not Really Need One

There seems to be a lot of confusion about being certified in nursing informatics or having a nursing informatics certificate.

To make it clear and simple, you don’t need to be certified in nursing informatics or have a nursing informatics certificate to work in this specialty.

If you’re an RN or LPN, you can get a job in nursing informatics without any further degrees.

If you’re an LPN, click here to check my interview with an LPN working as an informatics nurse.

Or read my other post about LPN’s getting into informatics without a BSN or MSN degree.

Also, it is the same for most other generic informatics positions out there: you don’t need to be certified in healthcare informatics or have an informatics certificate to get a job in informatics.


Yet, I keep receiving emails asking “What is the best certificate to have to find job in informatics?”

The answer is: you don’t need a certificate to find a job in this specialty, but if you want to get one, then the choice you make will depend on your background.

Are you a healthcare professional with no IT experience or with IT experience?

Or are you an IT professional with no healthcare experience?

Obtaining a certificate might really depend on how your answer that question.

Nursing Informatics Certification

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers an Informatics Certification Exam to obtain board certification in nursing informatics, but to take this examination, in addition to having an active RN license and other requirements, you need to also meet one of the following practice hour requirements:

  • Have practiced a minimum of 2,000 hours in informatics nursing within the last 3 years.
  • Have practiced a minimum of 1,000 hours in informatics nursing in the last 3 years and completed a minimum of 12 semester hours of academic credit in informatics courses that are part of a graduate-level informatics nursing program.
  • Have completed a graduate program in nursing informatics containing a minimum of 200 hours of faculty-supervised practicum in informatics.

In other words, if you’re an entry level candidate looking to get into the nursing informatics profession, most likely you don’t qualify for this certification, unless you’re currently in a graduate program, and you have completed 200 hours of faculty-supervised practicum in informatics.

But even if you just graduated from a graduate informatics program and you have completed the 200 hours of practicum, I would hold off and not get the certification right away because as I have discussed throughout this blog, for entry level positions, past experience in informatics has more value than academic credentials.

Getting this certificate and not having any informatics experience might not give you the extra edge you think you will get when applying for entry level jobs.

Thus, since this certification is geared for professionals who are already working in the field, it is self-evident you don’t need it to enter the nursing informatics field.

Employers Prefer A Certified Nursing Informatics Professional

While we are in the topic of the nursing informatics certification via the ANCC, the next biggest misconception I hear is: “employers prefer candidates to be nursing informatics certified.”

I really don’t know where this originated, but the few positions that might require board certification in nursing informatics are those which are at a director level, and maybe at a manager level.

But even then, it might be a stretch to say that a candidate will have an advantage over another candidate simply because they are board certified in informatics.

In the past I have applied for jobs which say, “Nursing Informatics Certification Preferred,” and even though I’m not certified, I have applied for those jobs and gotten them, and the certification factor didn’t even come up during the interview process.

If anything, the biggest advantage you have to any other candidate is the skills you bring to an employer.

For an entry level positions though, certification is not an issue.

Nursing Or Healthcare Informatics Certificate

Many community colleges and universities are offering certificate programs in nursing or healthcare informatics.

Some of these programs offer between 9 credit hours to 18 credit hours of course work that introduces you basic concepts in informatics and supposedly they prepare you to find a job in the field.

In addition, in 2009, Congress passed the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) which seeks to fund six-month non-degree programs at community colleges across the USA to further train people with an IT or healthcare background in informatics.

If you’re an IT worker without any healthcare experience, these certificates are a good idea to get introduced to healthcare concepts.

If you’re a healthcare worker without any IT experience, these certificates might boost your confidence and resume.

However, what cannot be guaranteed from obtaining a certificate is that it will lead you to a job, and that’s why if I were to be looking into enroll in any of these certificate programs, my first question would be: “Is there any job placement assistance, and have past students who obtained the certificate found jobs?”

Experience Or Informatics Certificate?

If you are a healthcare worker and if you have somehow assisted in the implementation of an EMR project at your workplace, then getting a certificate might not be necessary.

Your experience alone in helping with the implementation of a project might be good enough to interview for jobs. There are thousands of people with this type of background who have joined the informatics field.

If you have healthcare experience, but have never assisted in the implementation of an EMR at your workplace, then the certificate might be a good way to introduce you to the concepts in informatics, but again, don’t expect that after completing your certificate, you’ll have a job lined up.

If you have IT experience, but zero healthcare experience, then I’m more inclined to recommend these certificate programs as a way to learn about healthcare-related processes.

Depending on your skill set, the certificate might indeed help you land a job in healthcare IT.

Again, do your diligence and ask how the education institution might help you out in finding a job. Some might provide job assistance, while others might not. Might as well spend the money on a school that is doing all it can to help you out once you complete your certificate, but from my experience, you have to go out and hustle for a job.

Can an LPN become an informatics nurse without a BSN or MSN?


If this is possible, how can it be done? I have been asked this question by LPNs in the past and I answered this question in a previous post, but only briefly.

So, I thought that best solution would be to have an LPN working in informatics answer directly these questions and a few more other. This way, you get fresh insights into the subject.

Here’s a little interview I prepared for you with an LPN currently working in nursing informatics:

How long have you been a nurse?

I’ve been an LPN for 30 years. I worked in every area possible!

Was on disability for 2 herniated disks in low back for 13 years. Got back into bedside nursing as a charge nurse in an assisted living facility in 2004.

I was working as a charge nurse in a different assisted living facility in 2008 and left that place.

While perusing the local help wanted ads in a Cleveland newspaper, found one that was looking for RNs and LPNs that had computer skills.

Faxed my resume to the consulting firm that placed the ad, interviewed and was hired for a go live at the Cleveland Clinic for Epic.

When you say, computer skills, what does that actually mean? Did you have any prior experience using electronic medical records when you were a clinical nurse?

Computer skills referred to anyone who could use a mouse and was familiar with Windows based applications-Word, Excel, Outlook.LPN Informatics analyst

I had no EMR experience at all prior to the Cleveland Clinic project in 2008. The firm I was with hired 300 people for this gig.

On day 2, we were down to 150. The lack of training and actual use of the apps before the go live drove a lot of people away.

So this job was your induction into the informatics field?

That is how I got introduced to this field. I never knew it existed prior to that interview.

I worked that project for 2 1/2 months. Then when other CCF facilities went live, the firm called to see if I was available, and I did 9 or 10 projects with them.

I did my first travel assignment as a consultant in March 2009, for another firm, at double what I was making for the firm I was with for the clinic projects.

In Sept. 2009, the original firm called saying they were in a bind. They needed trainers for Op Time, an Epic application for surgery.

I started on a Thursday, observed another trainer teaching her first class on a Friday, and taught my own class on Saturday!

The training classes lasted for 6 weeks, then I supported the end-users at the go live at a surgery center. With a week off between, I did another travel assignment for the same firm I worked for in March. And have been a traveling consultant ever since.

And during this whole time, have you considered going back to school to get your RN/BSN license or maybe a Master’s degree?

I spoke with the VP of firm I was originally with and mentioned that I was considering going for my RN so I would have more opportunities in this field.

He said due to the clinical experience I already had, and the additional training and go live experience, he said I wouldn’t need it.

And he was right. I can pick and choose what assignments I wish to participate in and take time off when I want it.

I do have to admit that the field is getting extremely saturated.

Health systems are hiring extra personnel to assist with the training, getting them credentialed in Epic applications, which is different that getting certified in the applications.


Certification in any Epic applications is the wholly grail.

Once the newly credentialed people do one or two go lives, they think they are ready for the consulting side. All they see are dollar signs!

I know several who have left secure training jobs only to do one project elsewhere and cannot find anything else, due to lack of experience.

Many people are under the impression that they can get certified in Epic on their own. They don’t understand that they need to be sponsored by their employer or by a consulting company that works with Epic.I’ve been told that there are some scammers out there who make you pay so many dollars supposedly to tell you how to get certified in Epic, and once you join their seminar, they tell you exactly the same thing: have your employer sponsor you, or get involved in informatics as a super-user, and then try to get a job.
I knew about certification, but didn’t know about Credentialing. Can you explain some more about that?

Credentialing is a process, sponsored by the healthcare system, to use current or newly hired employees as trainers.

They go through a six week training session for whatever application they will be training.

Then the principal trainer-you must be certified from Epic to be a PT- and a rep from Epic will grade (pass/fail) the newly hired or current staff employees on a presentation based on the application they will be teaching, in addition to a written test that is open book/computer.

Every health system wants their trainers credentialed based on their own workflows and how they want the system to function. I have been credentialed 3-4 times.

So for the LPN’s out there trying to get a job in informatics, what would your advice be?

The first thing I tell anyone who wants to jump into this arena, is to go to www.LinkedIn.com, set up your profile, making sure any EMR experience they have is first and foremost on their resume, and network, network network!

Most informatics positions in hospitals do require being an RN and all the alphabet soup initials that go with it.

I’ve met LPNs who are project managers and training managers. It does help to have leadership/management experience as well.

Jobs are getting tight, however. It would be a big advantage if you are able to travel, possibly even relocate.

I know many consultants who have young children at home and still travel. A strong support system at home is extremely helpful as well.

Thanks so much for your time and willingness to share your experience, which I’m sure will be of help to many.

Reader Questions About Nursing Informatics, Clinical Informatics, Health Informatics Part 1


I’ve been receiving interesting questions about different aspects of the informatics field from readers of this blog and since many of them are not covered in any of my other posts, I decided to share them on this first informatics FAQ.

In the meantime, take a look at the questions and answers here below, and if you happen to have a question in mind, which hasn’t been answered yet, feel free to contact me anytime.

Please note that the answers to these questions reflect my personal views, which are based on my experience in the field.

1. I would like to apply for (nursing) informatics jobs. Do you recommend any nursing informatics books that might get me ready for this field?

Although I believe that no book will get you fully ready for a job in informatics, skills in Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access, basic database skills, and project management might come in handy in your day to day work and I highly recommend that you either improve on those skills or learn about them.

You can find tutorials online and there are tons of books about Microsoft Office. I personally like the books that have pictures in them and in the past, I did come across individuals who had the “teach yourself visually” books, which actually give you a good basic overview of Excel and Access or any other of the MS applications. I have spent a lot of time manipulating hospital data and having basic skills in excel and access has always helped me out to speed up the process when resolving certain issues.By the way, even though the latest version of MS office is 2010, many hospitals still use the 2007 version or the 2003 version, which has a very different graphical interface from 2007 and 2010.
Also, prospective future informatics candidates should have at least basic knowledge of project management and what it takes to implement a project.There are two great books on this subject: “The Nursing Implementation Guide” and “Project Management for Healthcare Information Technology”.Although the first book has “nursing” in the title, the concepts covered apply to many other applications in the health informatics field.

If I had to choose between these two books, I would STRONGLY recommend “The Nursing Informatics Implementation Guide” because it contains information that could help during job interviews, e.g. understanding the different phases of a project. In addition, the book covers some project management related material.

2. What’s the difference between health informatics, clinical informatics and nursing informatics?

I will probably have to write a post on this topic some day, as each of these disciplines required their own detailed definition.

To put it simply though, clinical and nursing informatics fall under the umbrella of health informatics, which integrates and merges information technology with all other types of health disciplines, such as pharmacy, nursing, public health, etc.

Clinical informatics is a specific branch of health informatics, and nursing informatics is another more specialized branch. I explored this topic in detail in my post, what’s the difference between nursing and clinical informatics?

3. Do you have to be a nurse to get into a nursing informatics program?

From what I have read and learned so far, yes, you need to be a registered nurse to get into a nursing informatics program.

In the other hand, a health informatics program can be completed by people with no nursing background. Nonetheless, best to check the requirements of the school program you’re interested in before you apply.

4. Do I need clinical experience for nursing informatics or for a clinical informatics job?

Yes. If the job is being advertised as nursing informatics, 110% guaranteed that they are not only looking for nurses, but also for somebody who has actual nursing clinical experience.

Otherwise, the job could be advertised as informatics specialist, informatics analyst, application analyst, application specialist, etc. Also, most clinical analyst jobs require some type of experience in the clinical field such as laboratory, pharmacy, radiology, physical therapy, etc.

Yet, what I want to emphasize is that you don’t have to have a clinical background to be in the health informatics field, unless that specific job titles require clinical experience.

You could easily have a computer science degree or information systems degree or even a business degree and you could be working as an application analyst in the health informatics field. Hope that makes sense!

5. What’s the difference between clinical analyst and application analyst?

This is a very good question and this varies greatly by employer. I actually held these two titles in the past and personally I didn’t see much difference in my responsabilitie.

However, one employer specifically said that as an application analyst, I didn’t have to have clinical experience for the job, while for a clinical analyst, that specific employer was looking for clinical experience.

Another employer explained the role as, “the application analyst is in charge of one or two specific applications in our department, while the clinical analyst has a more generic role and is also in charge of meeting with the users for upgrades, enhancements, support, etc.”

For example, as an application analyst you could be put in charge of the radiology application. Then, your job would be to configure, test, write training materials on the application, provide others with support, etc.

A clinical analyst might also do the same thing, in addition to doing more general things like running meetings with users to decide upgrades/changes to one application or different applications, act as a contact person between clinicians and application analyst, and possibly run some project management tasks. This person could also meet with the application analyst to go over changes users want/need to the application.

I want to emphasize that different employers define these roles differently in lack of any standard definitions in the industry. Therefore, read carefully the job description for that specific position.

Reader Questions About Nursing Informatics Part 2


1. Do you need to have a degree to be a Nurse Informaticist?

Yes! To be hired SPECIFICALLY for a nursing informaticist position, the minimum you need is a nursing degree.

You can be an LPN and be a Nurse Informaticists. I personally trained nursing assistants who went on to become Clinical Analysts without even having a nursing degree.

CAVEAT: When an employer posts a job looking for a “Nursing Clinical Analyst” or “Nursing Informaticist”/”Informatics Nurse” position, then the employer most likely wants to hire somebody with a nursing background, and therefore somebody with a nursing degree.

But if an employer were to post a job as “Clinical Analyst”, then you could have any degree.

Always read carefully the job requirements! Also, read questions 5 and 6 on the first part of questions.

2. Can LPNs work in Nursing Informatics?

Of course they can. I have worked with many LPNs in the informatics field, and many started either as super users, trainers, or they were offered the position because they were identified as “computer charting savvy” nurses.

Check out my latest post with an LPN working as an informatics nurse.

3. What is the best degree to get into Nursing Informatics?

For Nursing Informatics jobs you specifically need a nursing degree. It can be any nursing degree because you can be an LPN, or have an ADN or BSN to get a job as a nurse informaticist.


Maybe the question should be: What’s the best nursing experience I should have to get into Nursing Informatics?

As I have told many others, experience in the field is what will most likely get you the job.

Have you worked as a super user? If you work with an electronic medical record — how good are you with it? Do you train others to use it? Are you the go-to-person when an issue comes up that other nurses can’t solve?

Many nurses who started in this field simply were offered a chance to be super users or trainers because they were identified as being good with the computer charting, and from that opportunity they went on to get a job.

4. What is the work schedule of an Informatics Nurse or Clinical Analyst?

This varies by employer and by the application you maintain.

You usually work an 8 hour shift, 5 days a week.

Depending on the phase of a project, some days you might work longer hours, and a couple of times a year you might have to work at the weekend.

During the training phase or go-live phase of a project, you might work longer hours because you might have to teach training sessions after hours, or you might have to spend extra time with a user that has problems using the system, or other issues might occur which weren’t expected to happen.

Also, if you work for a hospital supporting an application, many times you will have an on-call schedule, and you might have to be on call on a weekend every so many weeks, or during weekdays, you will have to take calls at any time during the night.

And yes, there are also people who put in 10-12 hours a day because their main objective is to move ahead to a management position, and thus working 8 hours a day is not an option for them.

I have worked with some people like this and indeed, many make it far. It is true that they go on to make a lot of money too, but this is not the type of work schedule that everybody follows. Unless of course, you get stuck with a bad employer (as I’m sure there are quite a few out there).

I personally enjoy my work and even though there are days when I do work extra hours, they don’t feel like extra hours for me. Yet, I confess that testing is not really my favorite piece of a project, and 8 hours of testing seem like 16 hours for me!

If you have the chance to work as a consultant, then you might have to travel Monday through Thursday and work from home on Friday.

You could also work as a trainer for a vendor and you would travel to different hospitals within a week.

As you can see, the work schedule of an Informatics Nurse or Clinical Analyst may be different, depending on the employer and the specific role you have.

What do Informatics Nurses actually do?


On the previous post where I discussed what nursing informatics is, I gave a broad overview of how an application is implemented, and how an analyst is involved in this process, and in this post, I’ll give more specific details.

Do keep in mind though, that within this field, there are many roles a person can have, such as being a trainer, a project manager, a project design analyst, an application/project architect, an application consultant, and even a programmer, among many others.

And for almost all position, as I explain in the bottom of the post and in the comments below, you don’t need to know coding/programming to be in nursing informatics or clinical informatics.

And this is not just limited to nursing informatics. Somebody with the title of clinical analyst can do the same, the only difference being that they don’t necessarily have to have a nursing degree. Nonetheless, all these roles participate in one or in all the cycles discussed below.

Software Development Life Cycle

In real life, this whole process follows closely what is known as the software development life cycle, which is made up of roughly 6 stages: Requirements Analysis, Design, Testing, Training, Implementation, and Maintenance/Support.

I have seen many arguments about this process, so for further details, you can google “systems development life cycle” or “software development life cycle” and you can find more details about the specifics of the cycle stages.

What’s important to understand is that within those stages of the cycle, an informatics nurse, who can also have the title of a (clinical) analyst, can play many roles.

It Starts With Going From Paper To an EMR

For example, if a department within a hospital wants to start the process of documenting their paper records using what is known as an EMR (Electronic Medical Records), they first have to come to an agreement as to what they want to move from paper to the EMR.

But to do this, they might need to know what specifically the system can do for them, and this is where an informatics nurse can help in the process by knowing the EMR application, and thus having the ability to guide the users to make the right decisions.

For instance, the users might want to keep track of the total time a person spends providing specific care to a patient across different departments, but the EMR might not have the capability to do this.

Hence, it is the role of the informatics nurse to come up with a solution to this problem, either by contacting the vendor of the EMR with an enhancement request (which might take months if not years), or simply by coming with an alternative workflow to solve the issue.

What Happens In Analysis/Design Phase

In the example above, which merges the requirement analysis and design phase of a project, an informatics nurse organizes meetings where users provide data, which the nurse analyst will then analyze and use to configure the application accordingly.

During these meetings, the informatics nurse or clinical analyst, will usually give a demo of what the application does. He/she will answer questions about the application, and then the analyst will collect data of how the department functions. This data is known as the workflow of the department.

Once the analyst understands the workflow of the department, he/she will make recommendations on how to best configure the application to meet the needs of the users.

Typically the department gives input if the proposed workflow will work or not, and this is what the meetings are for: to work the design of the application.

Depending on the scope of the project one analyst could be involved in this specific role, or many times there are other analysts helping out in this process.

Configuring The Application

During the configuring phase of the project, the analyst takes the data collected in the previous phase, and using proprietary tools, the analyst configures the application to satisfy the user needs. This process might take weeks, and more than one analyst could be involved. Application configuration varies by vendor, and while some vendors have very easy tools to use, others are very complex.

Testing

Once the application is configured, the analyst will test his/her module of the application to see if it works.

Usually, several modules are being implemented, and when each and every module has been tested, that’s when integration testing takes place.

This is the process where all modules are tested together. For example, a patient is registered in the registration module, then the patient is scheduled using the scheduling module, and then the patient appears in a tracking board from where the patient is “admitted.”

As it can be seen, integration testing combines all these processes to make sure everything works together.

Training

When all the modules are functional, staff needs to be trained. Many times the person who configured the application happens to be the trainer of the users; yet, hospitals can also have one person dedicated to training staff on how to use an application.

This person is in charge of learning the application and then coming up with education material to train the different users on this application.

The title could be, informatics trainer, or clinical analyst trainer, but the goal is the same. Make sure that a high number of users successfully learn the application.

Training Is Not As Simple…

Although the role of a trainer looks easy to do, there are many things that could happen to add stress to the job.

One time, for instance, one of the user groups I had to train was a group of surgeons. This was a challenging group to train because many of them arrive at the hospital very early in the morning, and many of them simply say they don’t have the time to learn the application.

Furthermore, as part of the job role you might have to turn in solid percentage numbers of the number of users that were trained in the application, so as a trainer, many times you have to come up with creative ways to make sure that most of the users show up to your class, and then actually learn in class.

Go Live And Support

The last phase of the project is implementation and support. During this phase the application is “turned on” to the users, and this is known as the “go live.” Some also call it, “conversion.” The whole go live phase is coordinated by the analyst and other members of the project, such as the project manager, IT director, etc. Everything is planned out months before, and different members of the team are assigned specific tasks prior to the go live, and during the go live.

There is a support team which takes “go live issues” and this team is usually made up of the analysts that configured the application. Their role is to solve the issues that may occur, or escalate them to the proper person if needed. While for many this is the exciting part of the project, for others it is simply the most stressful part of the project.

All Phases Done By One Person?

The phases discussed above might be specifically assigned to one person. If you work in a smaller hospital, you could just be in an informatics department taking part in the implementation of the whole project.

Larger hospitals, however, have specific teams that are assigned to different phases of the project. For example, one analyst might be responsible for the analysis/design, while another one will just do the configuration and testing, and another one will do the training. It all varies by employer, but the roles of an informatics nurse or the role of a clinical analyst varies by each phase of the project!

Many times though, one analyst might be in charge of it all, but this could be more fun as your role would vary depending on where the project is, but at the same time, if training, for example, is not what you enjoy, when this part of the project takes place, you might find this very stressful. However, by participating in all aspects of the project, you might get a better idea of what you enjoy the most in each project, and then you can maybe find a job that is specific in that area.

Who Hires For These Jobs?

Also, work is not limited to hospitals or clinics. You could also be hired by a vendor, and within that vendor’s employment hierarchy, you could be a consultant. You could travel to many hospitals in the country and even outside the country to implement a specific solution for a vendor. As a consultant, your role could be either to design how the solution would interact for one hospital or for many hospitals within a network, or to be the person in charge of actually configuring the solution to meet the requirements of the client.

Do I Have To Know How To Program?

One aspect of the role that I didn’t yet address is that of programming. I’ve been asked or heard those wanting to explore informatics, if they will have to do computer programming. And the answer to that is, not necessarily.

Many of the roles discussed above require little programming or computer coding at all, but I have met some nurses that do like programming and they might get involved in writing scripts for a hospital or developing large applications for vendors.

Typically though, it helps to know some basic programming theory, but it is not really required for many of these roles because for most roles you’ll  be configuring an application in proprietary tools which you’re trained to use.

Also, the same applies to computer hardware. In these roles you’re not expected to know how to assemble a computer.

Most hospitals are known to have a different staff which specializes in installing computers, printers, routers or any other computer hardware.

Nonetheless, if your passion is programming, and you want to do a job which involves assembly language for example, then no doubt you might need to know more about computer hardware, but most analysts I know are not in the business of installing computers day in and day out.

Nursing informatics offers many career opportunities and rewards. It’s up to you to decide which one would suit you best if you are interested in pursuing a career in nursing informatics.

Other topics you might be interested in:

Interview tips and some Nursing Informatics interview questions

More Nursing Informatics interview questions

Questions to ask in a nursing informatics interview

Questions? Contact me through here!

Understanding The Nursing Informatics Analyst Role


In this post, we’re going to take a look at what it means to be a nursing informatics analyst, and list and define the key responsibilities for this role.

The first thing that I would like to clarify is that I’ve been working in the field of nursing informatics for the past 8 years and, as I have explained in other posts, I’m yet to hold a position with the title of “nursing informatics analyst”.

In the nursing informatics departments I have practiced so far, my role has been many a time simply defined as “clinical analyst”, or variations of this title, such as “clinical consultant”, “systems analyst”, etc.

This is probably because when I started in the profession, the term “nursing informatics” wasn’t as popular. I remember typing the term “nursing informatics” in the monster job search box back in 2005, and the search turned up 2 jobs only.

Nowadays the term “nursing informatics” has become more popular, but many jobs are still being listed under other titles.

Key Responsabilities of a Nursing Informatics Analyst

The responsibilities listed below are synthesis from many jobs I have held in the past. In my opinion, they summarize the essential responsibilities a nursing informatics analyst has:nursing informatics analyst

  • Serves as a clinical liaison between IT, Department of Nursing, Informatics Department, Physicians, and any Ancillary Departments or Personnel involved with a clinical applications system
  • Documents current clinical processes to establish a baseline for developmental improvements of future workflows, and recommends and assists with implementation of new or improved workflows in clinical applications
  • Participates in interdisciplinary and process improvement teams to identify potential new uses for the information systems
  • Plans, develops, configures, implements, tests, evaluates and supports the clinical information systems application
  • Coordinates any necessary enhancements or upgrades to the clinical information systems application
  • Plans, develops, and provide ongoing education for physicians and staff.

Also, keep in mind that depending on the role, the nursing informatics professional may also take on more senior-level activities such as planning the clinical analysis activities, managing requirements, and even managing a project from start to finish.

Dissecting The Responsibilities Of A Nursing Informatics Analyst

The job responsibilities listed above might actually require a full post of their own, but I highly doubt that anybody wants to read all the technicalities involved in the job, so instead, I’ll try to give a quick rundown of what each responsibility entails.

Clinical Liaison: As a nursing informatics analyst, you will meet with all different types of teams to discuss the implementation of a project.

It is worth mentioning here also that most hospitals have two separate departments: and IT department, and an Informatics department, and as part of your role, you will have to communicate with different players in the IT department to get your job done.

For example, Physicians are going live on a new clinical application. You will have to meet with the IT folks to determine the specifications needed for the hardware, possible network configuration to allow Doctors access to the application, and obviously you will also meet with the Physicians to discuss the project.

Clinical Process and Workflow Documentation: When a clinical application or functionality of an application needs to be implemented, the analyst first needs to map out how a clinical process is done, so that a workflow can be developed on how this clinical application or functionality will be made live for the clinical users.

To picture this, assume that there is a team of pressure ulcer nurses in the hospital that now want to document their wound assessments electronically.

As an analyst, and with the help of these clinicians, you will  figure out the best way to implement this on the clinical application, and to do so, you map out the steps that it takes to trigger the nurse to perform a wound pressure assessment.

Once you have the steps mapped out, your knowledge of the  clinical system will lead you to recommend ways on how the nurses can implement this functionality.

System Implementation: This combines many steps. You take the requirement gathered in the workflow analysis phase, and then you configure the clinical application system according to these requirements.

Once you have the application configured, you test it, you then train the users, and finally you have a go-live so the users can use this application.

If you want to read more about these steps, I wrote more on this topic here.

Upgrades and Enhancements: Clinical application systems are always being updated. Old functionalities are improved. New functionalities are created. And even some functionalities are discarded.

Many times as an analyst you will have to take modify an existing workflow in an application based on these upgrades or enhancements.

Also, if an application is upgraded, you will have to make sure that older workflows still work with the new upgrade and if they don’t, then they need to be re-configured, and also, when new upgrades come out, some hospitals, to stay on the leading edge, will want to re-do their older implementations to take advantage of the latest upgrades.

Other hospitals however, will take the approach of, “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Training: When a clinical application is built, or even when a new functionality is built or reconfigured, users are trained.

Also, if you’re working with other analysts, you can train them on how to build specific parts of the application to either help out, or to have a back up in place when you’re not in the office.

Nursing Informatics Analyst Roles Can Vary Widely

The complexity of maintaining clinical applications allows for many opportunities to the Nursing Informatics Analyst role.

It gives analysts the chance to work on clinical application analysis/configuration/support, logistics, testing, training, project management, and other leadership roles.

This variety of responsibilities means that a person can start in a role that has all types of responsibilities, and as he or she get more experience in the field,  this person can choose to work in a role that focuses on a specific part of the project.

For example, an analyst might start in a role that does is involved in all aspects of a project, but then this person might decide that they only want to do training, and as a result, the specific position of trainer can be obtained.

Thus, even though the roles of a Nursing Informatics Analyst can vary, at the core they solve problems and help bridge the gap between information systems and nursing.

Tips to consider for an informatics resume

When I first started my career in informatics, I had no idea even how to find a job.

I only found out about the jobs because a friend forwarded my information to a local hospital which was hiring clinical analysts, and that’s when I learned that most jobs are not advertised as nursing informatics” jobs, but as ‘clinical analyst’ jobs.

Once I figured that out, my next step was to draft a resume that would merge my nursing and IT experience, and that was not an easy task for me.

Going to a Professional Resume Writer

Since I had a hard time coming up with a resume that bridged the gap between my two different academic backgrounds, I ended up seeking a ‘professional’ who could help me out.

As the cliché says, cheaper is not always better. The first person who drafted my resume charged 50 dollars which I thought was a steal. Of course when I got the resume, I was highly disappointed with it and had to hire somebody else.

The next person charged around 100 dollars or so, but this time around, I was highly pleased with the end result and later I found out that recruiters also thought that it was a very good resume as it had a nice layout of my IT and nursing experience.

Not Taking The Resume Seriously

Unfortunately, from what I noticed in past interviews with candidates seeking an informatics position, it seems that not many candidates realize that resumes are very important when trying to land an interview for a job.

I’m not a professional resume writer, but I have seen and evaluated enough resumes to get an idea of what a good one might look like.

However, most places nowadays have automated resume readers (there must be an industry term for that).

Anyway, in many large hospitals a computer scans the resumes for key words and then, based on an algorithm, the resumes are reviewed by HR, who sends them to the hiring manager.

No doubt that smaller hospitals could review resumes individually, but that’s even a stronger reason to make sure your resume look good and that is targeted to the job you’re applying for.

The Biggest Mistake in a Resume

One of the biggest mistakes I have seen when reviewing resumes is having a generic resume for the job.

If a position is looking for an application trainer, then make sure the resume is geared to that specific job.

The resume should address your experience as a trainer by including things like, who did you train, number of trainees, what subject you trained, etc.

Amazingly enough, many people create one resume and they submit it to all the positions they apply for. Or at least, that’s what it looks like.

We once had a candidate who had a nursing degree and experience in the field, along with IT experience.

Although he was a very good candidate to consider for the job, his resume was too generic and it went to the thrash bin, simply because there were better resumes with similar experience to choose from the pile and those resumes had targeted phrases that were specific for that job.

A generic resume tells a hiring manager that you didn’t bother to look at the details of the job and that you’re applying for as many jobs as you can, hoping to land whatever comes your way. Not a good impression to make.

One Page or Two Page Resume?

Another mistake people make in their resume is submitting a resume that is way too long. If you’re seeking an entry level position in the informatics world, having a resume that is more than a page could be considered too long.

Although there are no specific guidelines as to how long your resume should be, most recruiters I have worked with in this field advised me to keep my resume to a one page maximum, despite my 7 years plus of experience in this specific field, and I believe that’s because my experience is repetitive.

This is not to say that you cannot have a 2 page resume, but for somebody applying for an entry level position, a one page resume should suffice.

I was once helping out a hospital with selecting candidates to interview for an entry level position. When the hiring manager encountered resumes that were more than 2 pages, the reaction was: “this person is obviously overqualified for the position,” and the resumes went to the bottom of the pile.

I would skim through the resumes wondering why they were so long, and I noticed that they had irrelevant work experience, which only made it generic.

It’s a “Computer” Job and You Won’t Be Taking Care of Patients!

Finally, when applying for an informatics position, don’t spend 3/4 of the resume detailing the same nursing experience.

Let’s look at my experience to get a better understanding of what I mean:

I have 5 years of medical surgical nursing experience. I worked in a hospital for about a year in a med-surg unit and then I worked for about 4 years doing travel nursing or as a float nurse in different hospitals in the country. On my first resume where I was trying to bridge my IT and nursing experience, each of these two types of experience were summarized within an individual section.

For example, all my medical nursing skills were under one section called ‘Health Care Experience,’ and under that section I described a generic role of Staff RN because even though I had worked at different hospitals, the skills were the same.

As for the IT skills, I followed the same pattern, in the sense that I gathered all my IT experience under a different section. Of course, my case was unique as I had both IT and nursing experience. However, if you only have nursing experience, you might want to then highlight different roles you did as a nurse.

For example, if you were a charge nurse, then dedicate one section to the staff nurse position and the other section to being a charge nurse. Also, if you volunteer in the community, this might be a good thing to put on the resume. What you don’t want to do is spread out the same type of nursing experience in one page. After all, most informatics managers are pretty well aware of what nurses do.

Creating a resume for your job is a very important task. If writing one seems to be a daunting task for you, maybe it’s best to get a professional resume writer to help you out. But don’t forget, resumes are the first line of offense when trying to get a good job, so from this perspective, it’s worth investing some time and thought into it, and why not some money too?! One day all these efforts will be definitely rewarded.

Other topics you might be interested in:

Interviewing tips for an informatics position.
Nursing Informatics interview questions.
More nursing informatics interview questions.
Questions to ask in a nursing informatics interview

Questions? Contact me through here!  

Nursing Informatics Interview Tips


If you’re a clinician who has never been involved in the installation of a hospital application system or any other system in any other environment for that matter, the job interview might seem like a challenge as seen in the nursing informatics job interview videos I created.

However, since many hospitals are willing to train the right candidate for an entry level analyst position, it is only wise to prepare yourself for the interview by at least becoming familiar with the job you’re applying for.

It is nearly impossible to attempt to come up with a list of questions that might be asked in such interviews as the job positions vary in number and description. Nonetheless, I know from experience that when interviewing for entry level analyst positions, employers are trying to gauge factors like:

 

-“Is the candidate trainable?”
-“Does the candidate appear eager to learn?”
-“Can the candidate communicate well?”
-And finally “Do we think this candidate can get along with the rest of the team?”.

I definitely cannot help you with that last question, but I can give you pointers to address the others.

Tell Us About Yourself

From my personal experience, the first and most basic question asked during interviews is “Can you tell us about yourself?” and as expected, most candidates don’t have a problem answering it.

Most of the times this question allows the candidate to relax some by talking about something they obviously know very well, and it also gives the interviewer an idea of the candidate’s communication skills.

Personally, I answer this question with my education background, work experience, why I switched jobs, and, in between, I sprinkle some quick personal stories.

Of course, I practiced this speech many times before and, without interruptions, I can go into these details for 3 to 5 minutes at most.

One piece of advice I do have with regard to this question is, do not mention anything religious or political!

Given the sensitivity that people have about such subjects, this is not the time to talk about your volunteering activities for xyz religious or political organization, although you can talk about volunteering in a general way that doesn’t have any religious or political overtones.

The Crucial Question Many Fail To Answer

The next question which to my own amazement candidates struggle with is: “What can you tell us about this job position?” or “Can you describe what your understanding of this job is?”.

I cannot emphasize this enough: Please READ AND UNDERSTAND the job description prior to the interview.

Many facilities also do pre-interviews where an HR staff or the hiring manager calls the candidate to assess if they are interested in the position, and during that conversation they brief the candidate on the advertised job.

Make sure you take notes while discussing over the and ask simple questions like “Could you give me more details about this position?”.

It appears that most people don’t bother to pay attention to these details and I did see interviews that were pretty much over once the candidate demonstrated lack of knowledge about the job.

This should be an easy question to answer, and yet, one day we interviewed 5 candidates, and only one knew the details of the position. And the “I’m nervous” excuse doesn’t fly well either.

The Guaranteed Question And How Not To Answer It

Another guaranteed question in these interviews is “Why are you interested in this position?”

Saying simply “Because I’m interested in computers” won’t get you far in the interview.

Also answering the question by saying that you don’t like the current system at your hospital only puts you on the spot to be asked the logical question of, “what functionalities don’t you like, and how would you make it better?” Definitely, no need to set yourself up this way, unless you have a brilliant argument ready to spew.

Be Familiar With The Software Implementation Cycle

Finally, it is a good idea to become familiar with the software implementation cycle as I mentioned in the “what do informatics nurses do” post.

Even though this might seem esoteric at first, it is a good idea to become familiar with those concepts because during the interviews it is quite common to describe the phases to the candidate, and then ask, “which one of these phases do you think you might enjoy the most and why?”

By being familiar with these phases of the project, answering the question is not only easier, but you will also sound very informed, especially if you have no professional experience in the matter.

Interviews are hard to digest by both the interviewee (who is being fried on the grill of questions) and the interviewer (who is kindling the fire under the grill). However, from the interviewee perspective, if prepared thoroughly (by anticipating a great number of potential queries), you may end up mastering them, dazzling the crowd and landing the position you are aspiring to.

Questions? Contact me through here!

Other topics you might be interested in:

Tips for an informatics resume.
Nursing Informatics interview questions.
More nursing informatics interview questions.
Questions to ask in a nursing informatics interview

More sample Nursing Informatics interview questions


I received some requests from blog readers who read about nursing informatics interview questions on a previous post, in which I went over 3 main questions which I thought were quite popular in previous interviews and which might be poorly answered by most candidates.

The 3 questions were:

  • Can you tell us about yourself?
  • What can you tell us about this position?
  • Why are you interested in this position?

The next set of interview questions are those which have a high frequency of being asked in interviews and I based that statement on my own personal experience as an interviewee and interviewer.

The Strength Question

The first question I’ll start with is my least favorite one: “Tell me your strengths and weaknesses.” When it comes for strengths, on average 9/10 people will always respond with “I’m hard working”.

As satisfactory as it might sound to you, an interviewer most likely won’t be satisfied with this answer, unless you give it some personal flavor and expand a little more.

In this case, my advice to you is that, prior to an interview, come up with examples as to why “you are hard working”.

You can simply start by saying something like: “I’m very dedicated about my job. For example, …” and continue by giving instances that demonstrate your job dedication.

Personally, I tend to stay away from saying “I’m hard working”. Instead, I prefer to focus on 4 main areas that I consider to be my strengths, such as my communication skills, technical skills, personal networking skills with others, or training skills.

And of course, for each area mentioned, I like to give real life examples to back up my answer.

And What Are Your Weaknesses?

The second part of the question about weaknesses is no favorite of mine either, but again, I concentrate on technical skills or I base my answer on previous feedback from my managers and areas that they indicated I should work on or improve.

In my early days of interviewing the advice given to me was that, when speaking of weaknesses, try to turn them into something positive.

I now stay away from that technique, but I’m always able to assess my current skills by focusing on skills that I have lost or haven’t had a chance to learn yet.

Management – How Do They Describe You?

Another question that seems to come up often is, “How would your managers or colleagues describe you?”.

My ego would love to answer with, “Why don’t you call and ask them—isn’t that why I listed my references?”, but that would definitely not be a smart thing to do.

First time I ever got this question, I froze in time and needless to say, didn’t get the job. I learned my lesson and what I do now is answer it based on past reviews from previous managers who use feedback from past colleagues and clients.

I have also seen other candidates freeze on this question and I wish I could have told them, just think of a past performance review you have had and think of the positive aspects they told you.

Of course, if you read this blog, you can easily prepare now for this question by asking your colleagues to write some positive aspects about your personality, such as reliability, dedication, communication skills, etc.

A Difficult Question

Another knockout question can either be, “Tell us why we should hire you.” or “What would you bring to this organization by applying for xyz role?”.

Lord have mercy!

What about I continue telling you about my strengths and weaknesses? As you gain more experience in the field, this is not really a difficult question, but entry level candidates do struggle with it.

If I were in their shoes, I would pick one strength about my personality and try to merge it with the job I’m applying for.

Example, if you are applying for a training position, then explain how you’re passionate about training. What you don’t want to say is that you’re tired of bedside nursing and that you’re looking for a way out!

Job Success

A follow-up to the last question tends to be, “What do you think it takes to be successful in our organization/company?” or “What do you think it takes to be successful in this role?”.

This is definitely a question you want to be ready for by doing some research on the employer you’re applying for either through friends or the internet.

I like to enter the employer’s name in google, and hit the news link to see what comes up.

And to be successful in the informatics  role or clinical analyst role?

Most informatics roles require you to handle stress well, the ability to troubleshoot problems, solve problems, get along with different departments, or handle multiple projects or tasks at the same time, which means, ability to prioritize.

Handling Pressure, Coping With Stress

This brings me to a final point before I list other pertinent questions related to nursing informaticsinterviews.

One question that seems to be popular is, “How do you handle pressure, prioritize problems, or cope with stress?”.

If you’re a nurse, this should be most likely the easiest question to answer. Again, give examples of how you have handled these situations in the past.

The Easier, Common Questions

The 8 questions listed below came up in many of my interviews in the past. There are more, but the ones below made me think a bit before answering them.

Hit the +1 button below to unlock them, if you haven’t already “plussed” the site.  (internet explorer users might not see the button)

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I hope these questions will be of help to you when preparing to apply for a nursing informatics role. In the next post I will discuss about what questions to ask in an informatics interview (from the interviewee’s perspective).

Other posts you might be interested in:

Tips for an informatics resume.
Interviewing tips for an informatics position.
Nursing Informatics interview questions.
Questions to ask in a nursing informatics interview
Nursing Informatics interview questions video

Questions to ask in a Nursing Informatics interview


The next request I had was to go over possible questions that entry level candidates can ask in an interview. I have gone over questions candidates get in two parts found below:

Nursing informatics interview questions part 1
Nursing informatics interview questions part 2

The main advice I can give about this subject is to incorporate your questions as the interview moves along.

For example, most likely one of the first questions will be to describe the job you’re applying for, or if you understand the role of the job that you applied for. Once you answer this question based on what you know and been told about the job, then you can finish the response by saying, “…that’s what I understand about this position. Is that a fair understanding, or can you give me more specific details about this position and what specific tasks I will be doing?”

About the Culture

Of course, to incorporate the questions, you would have to know what to ask, which is what I’ll go over.

When I do job interviews, one of the first questions I always like to ask the employer is to describe me the culture of the place.

Do people get along? Do they help each other?

Usually, you get an interview with a hiring manager and later with the group you’ll be working with, but regardless of person or group, I always ask this question and I assess facial expressions as they respond.

Is Training Provided?

I would also find out how I would be trained in the applications being used.

Will I be sent somewhere for training? Is there somebody else that knows the application or am I the only one, and if so, are there any resources that can help me while I learn the application?

In other words, many times you might be hired for an application that nobody is in charged of and if something happens, since you’re new to the application, how can you solve the problem?

The Dreaded Role of Any Informatics Position

If you’re applying for a hospital, most likely you will have to support the application by being on call to take after hour phone calls, weekend phone calls and holiday phone calls.

I would ask how the rotation works. If you’re the radiology application expert, and you’re on call, and the pharmacy application breaks at 2am on a Saturday, what’s the process for the person on call to follow when they are not the experts in pharmacy?

Also, what happens if you’re assigned to a weekend where you’re attending somebody’s wedding, how easy is it to switch with another person?

Obviously, you might want to refine the question and ask it as, “Is it possible to switch on call days with others?”

What About the Documentation?

Another possible question to ask is, “Are previous projects well documented? Is it possible for me to review past projects’ documentation?”

A lot of hospitals do a good job documenting their projects and by reading these documents, you can get an idea of what to expect for the next project. If the documentation is poor and that is something you like to do, that might be a good bonus to keep in mind…

Working Hours?

What are the standard hours that people work? Or what hours am I expected to be in the office?

As a consultant, I always try to be in the office by 7:30 AM because a lot of the clients I have tend to be in the office by 7:30 AM. However, this is not always the case.

When working with doctor offices, for example, you can come in later, but if you’re working with surgeons, you might have to come in a lot earlier. Good to know what to expect.

Any Traveling?

If you’re applying for a job in a hospital that belongs to a national network, travel might be required and is always a good idea to ask if there will be any traveling involved with the position, and if there is, you might want to also ask how frequent is the travel. Also, it could be that you might be sent to local hospitals in the area, so you might have a central office that you go to, or you might be scattered in different locations in different weeks.

Getting Reviewed

I also like to ask about the review process.

Does the employer have a complicated review process or an easy review process? Or what does the review process entail?

This is really not a required question to ask, but I like to ask this question to managers and then I like to have fun asking the same question in the group interviews.

Comparing manager answers v. group answers is always interesting as you get to find out the 2 sides of the story.

Finally, I leave you some other possible questions to ask:

  • If there is a person with the same role as the one you’re applying for in the interview, you can ask, What do you like the most about your role? What do you like the least about your role?
  • Are people in this organization allowed to work remotely?
  • What procedure or change control process is followed when requests for changes in the system come in?
  • What’s the structure of the department and who will you report to?

 

Other topics you might be interested in:

Tips for an informatics resume.
Interviewing tips for an informatics position.
Nursing Informatics interview questions.
More nursing informatics interview questions.
Nursing Informatics interview questions video

The reality about nursing informatics salaries

The popular questions people have about nursing informatics are:

“What’s the salary for this field?”


The salary ranges vary according to experience, specialty, location, and other factors. The range goes from $45,000 to a six salary figure.

If

“Does a clinical analyst get paid the same as a nursing informatics analyst?”

Yes, a nursing informatics analyst, or a clinical analyst, gets paid on the same scale, assuming that all the factors are kept the same.

And “Is it true that salaries start at 90k?”

If you’re starting out in the informatics field, no, most likely your salary won’t start at 90k.  There are exceptions, but most entry level jobs don’t start at 90k.

Take a look at my informatics salaries across the country post to get a more realistic idea of what type of salary to expect.

98k Average Salary?

The HIMSS blog recently published a nursing informatics salary survey, and according to the survey, salaries in the field are on the rise: “the best news is that salaries are substantially higher in the 2011 survey, with the average salary reported at $98,703, a 16% increase since 2007 and a 42% increase since 2004.”

 

An average salary of close to $99,000? Really? Simply dumbfounding. My next logical question is: who was interviewed in this survey? Epic consultants?

Shockingly, the survey goes on to say:
“Less than half of the survey respondents (48 percent) reported that their primary workplace is a hospital while an additional 20 percent reported that they work at the corporate offices of a healthcare system. Nine percent work in an academic setting and five percent work for a consulting firm or a vendor.”

To see salaries by state, click on the corresponding abbreviations:
AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE FL GA HI
ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI
MN MS MO MT NE NH NJ NM NY NC ND
OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT
VA WA WV WI WY

Nursing Informatics Salaries State by State 2013

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More like 70k

48 percent reported that they work for a hospital? Really? When I speak to recruiters, most hospital jobs for an experienced analyst seem to start in the 70k range and sometimes even lower.

I have even seen jobs starting in the mid 50k range, and no, these jobs were not out in rural areas, but in some decent sized towns. As a matter of fact, out of curiosity, I went to a job board and typed in the hottest commodity in the market right now: “Epic analyst”.

Real Life Snapshots

On the first page, there were about 5 job listings within the same salary range. I took a screenshot of two that listed the salary just to show what pattern I noticed in the past and continue to notice nowadays:

As can be seen, these jobs don’t start in the 80k or 90k range, but in the mid 50k range.

Also, notice how the job listing requires experienced candidates and one top salary appears to be 75k.

Yet, the average reported salary in the survey is $98,703?

Who did they interview for this survey?

This is not to say that there are no jobs out there in that salary range, but in the hospital these high paying jobs are hard to find.

Entry Level Ranges

Now, this blog is mainly geared toward entry level candidates, and from what I have seen out in the field, it would be fair to inform those interested that salaries for entry level jobs tend to start in the mid 50s/upper 60s. However, if you’re already working for a hospital where you have a good salary and you happen to be offered an analyst position, then most likely you also get to keep your salary, while being trained in the position.

Vendors vs. Hospitals

Also, another main question I get is, do vendors like Cerner, Meditech, or Epic pay better salaries than hospitals? And my answer to that is always, that depends on your negotiating skills. Vendors could actually pay higher than hospitals, but most entry level candidates are so happy to get a job offer from any of these vendors, that they settle for the salary being offered by the vendor.

Just a quick example, a close friend of mine who is also a nurse applied for a job with a vendor. She had zero experience implementing the system or using the system, and her job offer came at 55k. I personally believe she could have negotiated a better salary but she was afraid of negotiating and just took the job. But there are several nurses out there, including me, who don’t settle for the offered salary, and vendors have matched my request or gone just a bit lower. But like any other employer, vendors will try to get away with the lowest salary they can possibly offer you, unless you negotiate with them.

Of course, there are many factors that play a role in determining a salary, but my main message is that if you’re an entry level candidate, most likely you won’t be making 100k your first year, unless you live in a high cost of living place, or you get a job with a vendor and you already have some skills using their system; but even then, it is very unlikely that you’ll get a salary of 100k starting out, as many entering the nursing informatics field seem to believe. Nonetheless, once you get experience in the field and you show you’re good at what you do, getting a high salary in the six salary figures can eventually happen.

Other topics you might be interested in:

What is nursing informatics?
What do informatics nurses do?
Nursing Informatics interview questions

Health Informatics Salary Ranges


The Health Informatics field is a broad field which covers clinical informatics and nursing informatics.

Trying to pinpoint a salary in this field, is like trying to pinpoint the salary for an individual who says that he/she works in the medical field.

Obviously, this is a daunting task, because just like the medical field could be anybody from a dentist to a doctor to a nurse to a radiology tech, somebody working in the healthcare informatics field could be an executive, an IT director, a clinical analyst or coding professional, and many others.

Nonetheless I will present the latest salary information as reported by AHIMA in 2010.

Health Informatics Salary By Job Level

When looking at this data, it must be kept in mind that this is a generic overview of what a salary range might be for a specific group within Health Informatics.

For example, a clinician falls in the range of around $67,000 dollars. If we do further research, we can say that somebody in Nursing Informatics, which is subset of Health Informatics, has an average salary of around $70,000 dollars, but that varies by many factors such as experience, job location, and job title, as can be seen in my nursing informatics salary post.

It must be also kept in mind that if a person is an entry level candidate, the salary range will most likely be lower than what appears on this chart.

Health Informatics Salary By Job Setting

This chart gives us a better idea as to what type of job setting pay the most. If we look at this chart we see that in an acute care setting the salary is close to $60,000 dollars. However, you could be an experience clinical analyst for example, and most likely your salary will be a lot higher than that.

Therefore this gives a rough overview as to the different salaries in different settings, but again, these are not absolute numbers as a salary is always composed of many factors. What’s known for a fact though, is that working for a consulting employer will pay you the most, unless of course, you’re working in an executive level position in any of these settings.

Health Informatics Salary By Region

Finally, according to this graphic, we see that jobs in the southwest supposedly pay more than jobs in other regions, but from personal experience, you can find good paying jobs in the north east, and in states like Texas, Illinois, and Georgia.

Nursing Informatics Interview Videos

As discussed in the nursing informatics interview tips post, the job interview can be the most challenging aspect of the new job search for many candidates.

I have been involved in many interviews—mostly as an interviewee, but I have also participated in more than a dozen of interviews as an interviewer. I have learned a lot from my own past mistakes in interviews, and it’s been a very eye-opening experience to see how candidates respond and behave as an interviewer.

I created two videos to display how the same questions are answered by somebody who is not well prepared for an interview, and also, another video shows what we have considered to be a good candidate during an interview.

In the first video, the candidate does a decent job in answering the questions, but there isn’t enough detail in the answers.

I was actually very generous when creating this video because in real life interviews, I have interviewed candidates who were not able to answer the simple question of, “tell me your understanding of this position.”

I have seen how this question is used in different hospitals and shockingly, the candidates tend to know very little about the position, or they simply talk nonsense around this question.

Also, notice how the candidate says that she is applying for the job because she likes computers.

Again, a very generic answer that seems to be popular with entry level candidates.

However, this type of answer is not always popular with interviewers, unless you follow it with, “I enjoy computers and in my spare time I love fixing my colleague’s computer problems. For example….”

In contrast to the first video, in this video the candidate gives detailed answers which are very relevant to the job position.

I made it a point to answer the questions with, “I don’t have this experience, but it is my understanding that…” to emphasize that you don’t have to have experience in the field, but if you take the time to familiarize yourself with the profession, you can give smart answers which show the interviewer that you’re very interested in the field, and that you’re also trainable.

Obviously, I cannot include all types of questions that come up in an interview.

However, for most entry level position jobs, interviewers are looking to see how well prepared is the candidate for the interview, how well they communicate, if they are trainable, and if they seem to have a passion for the job, among other things.

My main advice for entry level position candidates is be prepared for the interview by knowing about the field because by doing so, you show all the characteristics mentioned above. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me through the page below, and I’ll be more than happy to answer it to the best of my abilities.

Other topics you might be interested in:

Tips for an informatics resume.
Interviewing tips for an informatics position.
Nursing Informatics interview questions.
More nursing informatics interview questions.
Questions to ask in a nursing informatics interview
Questions? Contact me through here!
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