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.

Chris (25 Posts)

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+

14 Responses to Nursing Informatics Certificate And Why You Might Not Really Need One

  • Rosmia says:

    what are the qualifications for us to get a nursing informatics job? what skills do they look for? thanksss..

    • admin says:

      If you work in a hospital and your hospital has already a system in place managed by an informatics department, many times all you have to do is get involved with them and then the jobs are offered to you from within.

      If you’re applying to jobs in different hospitals, many times these places are looking for people with previous experience. However, the experience they are looking for will vary.
      Some want the candidate to have experience just using the system and they will train the candidate. Other places want the candidate to already have experience configuring the system.
      And others want the candidate to have some experience of being a super user or experience training others and again, the employer will train these candidates on how to configure the system.
      So simply put, experience helping out in a project might be a good qualification in informatics.

  • J says:

    I have a BSN, RN and looking into taking my MSN in Nursing Informatics. For the past 3 years, I have experience using Meditech in my hospital workplace and informally used as a resource by staff RNs to use the system. I’m interested in this field so I can aide in development of making the interface nurse (user) friendly (if that makes sense). Is it worth it getting a MSN in Nursing Informatics to go into an entry level position? It seems that where I would have to start. What can I expect? Thoughts?

    • admin says:

      If you just want to start out in an entry level position, a master’s degree is really not needed. To get a job in the field, most of us got involved as superusers or as helpers testing an application, and then we applied for jobs. Of course, we updated our resumes with the relevant experience and then applied for the jobs. This is how many of us got into this field. yes, there are others who got a master’s degree and who swear you can’t get a job unless you have a master’s degree, but this is not really true. Now, if you eventually want to become a manager, director, then a master’s degree is a necessity. But for an entry level job, what you need to do is get involved with your EMR system at your hospital and then apply for jobs.

  • kim says:

    Thanks so much for wanting to inform those interested in this field. I am a fairly new nurse and I am taking my first class tonight in nursing informatics as a requirement for my BSN, and when trying to figure out what in the world NI is all I could find was jargon filled information. Your site filled in the gaps and told me exactly what one does as an informatics nurse!

  • Ter says:

    I’m an RN that works noc shift, and I currently working for my BSN. I do eventually want to obtain my master’s in informatics. I’m also currently working to transition into ICU. I see that master’s is not required for entry-level work, in fact I think I could start looking for a informatics job at myself after I obtain a BSN. My question is, how soon before a degree in nursing informatics should I try to obtain a informatics-related job? I am also wondering if a programs for master’s in informatics allow you to work at the same time? Thank you.

    • admin says:

      how soon before a degree in nursing informatics should I try to obtain a informatics-related job? As long as you’re a nurse, you can try to get a job in nursing informatics. And your 2nd question, yes, you can work and go for your masters, but the time management is up to you.

  • Michelle says:

    when you say experience in healthcare do you mean just as a RN or LPN, I’m a State tested Nurse Aide, we use Epic, and now Point and click. so I’ve got some experience. I’m considering getting my nursing degree, including healthcare informatics.. I really don’t want a nursing degree, and would love to focus on the health informatics portion. Do I need to move forward on the nursing in order to get in the field?

    • admin says:

      When I say healthcare experience, it means any healthcare type…dentist, nurse, optometrist, LPN, nursing assistant, EMT, etc. And yea, you don’t need a nursing degree for a job in informatics. Sure, there are jobs that are listed with nursing experience required, but like I explained in another post in the blog, that’s why nursing informatics is specific to nursing. There are many other generic informatics jobs that don’t require a nursing degree or experience.

  • lc says:

    if i understand ur point…it’s better to get with the facility you would like to work at and see exactly what they are asking for before building a resume that includes degrees you don’t really need.

    • admin says:

      No, that is not my point at all. My point is you need to get involved with informatics with any facilty to get experience, and it doesn’t have to be the one you want to work with.

  • Jeremy says:

    I am not sure why an employer would prefer a certificate prepared RN informaticist over a graduate degree-prepared RN informaticist (not taking into account informatics experience), and why a graduate degree-prepared RN informaticist would be required to become certified? The “talking heads”/academic faculty are generally advising that a graduate degree is of more weight than a certification- the investment in a graduate degree is far greater than a certificate, I do not think anyone could argue that?
    Jeremy recently posted..Can an LPN become an informatics nurse without a BSN or MSN?

    • admin says:

      I don’t think an employer prefers a certificate prepared RN. Most employers I’ve worked with don’t care about the certificate.
      As far as I know, nobody is required to become certified. Personal choice if you want to be certified or not.
      And nobody is arguing that a certificate is better than a master’s.

  • Christine Johns says:

    I happen to have 20+ years experience working as a Medical Technologist (BS), an MS in IT (5 yrs) and a BS RN (2012). I would love to merge these fields together to be a Clinical Informatics Nurse but only have 1+ years as a nurse. I have found that they are requiring 2-3 years as a Med/Surg/ICU Nurse before considering someone for this position. I am currently working in a LTC/Rehab facility that does not have an EMR!!! Based on all of the reading of your blog, none of what I stated should be a barrier to my filling a role such as this. True? I could really go for earning an appreciable salary to help pay off my recent student loans.

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