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.
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.