Best Online MSN in Nursing Informatics Programs For 2021
Written By: Editorial Staff @ NursingProcess.org
Hospitals are hectic places. The ability to track staffing, manage workflow and improve communications is an essential component not just for improving the efficiency of patient care but also in preventing nurse burnout. Nursing informatics is the discipline that’s key to seamless coordination in these areas. The explosive growth of nursing informatics over the past decade has created thousands of new jobs, and the American Medical Informatics Association says that as many as 70,000 additional nursing informatics specialists will be needed within the next five years.
Online MSN-Nursing Informatics programs may be the gateway to a dynamic new direction in your nursing career if you have clinical experience and an aptitude for quantatative analysis. Keep reading to find out more about the best MSN in nursing informatics online programs for 2021.
What Exactly Is the Purpose Of An MSN In Nursing Informatics Program?
MSN-Nursing Informatics online programs are designed to teach you how to analyze data and harness digital technologies that will make tasks like monitoring systems, overseeing programs, and implementing patient care initiatives easier to accomplish. As a nurse informaticist, your skillset will combine nursing science with information technology and computer science. You’ll find yourself performing many different types of tasks, such as training the clinical nursing staff in new procedures, working as a project manager, or developing system-wide policies on the basis of data you’ve analyzed. You won’t be interacting directly with patients, but you will be enhancing the overall patient experience within individual hospital units and the healthcare system as a whole.
According to the nonprofit Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS)
, nurse informaticists have been the driving force behind much of the innovation in electronic patient record optimization and clinical documentation over the past 10 years. A graduate degree is not a prerequisite for working in this field; many Bachelor of Nursing Science (BSN)-prepared nurses get their advanced informatics training on the job. But a degree from one of the best MSN in nursing informatics online programs certainly makes you more competitive in your field. With an MSN degree, it will be easier for you to find work outside the facility where you were trained. An MSN degree can also help you earn a higher salary and command more respect from your colleagues in the field.
8 Top Benefits Of MSN-Nursing Informatics Programs
One of the best MSN in nursing informatics programs online may be able to provide you with an entrée into an exciting new career trajectory. Here are some benefits of nursing informatics online MSN programs:
1. Nursing informatics is a rapidly growing field: A 2014 report prepared by Burning Glass
projects that the demand for professionals in the health informatics field will grow at twice the rate of the overall workforce. With a degree from one of the best MSN-Nursing Informatics online programs, you’ll always be able to find a job.
2. Nurse informaticists report a great deal of job satisfaction:
HIMSS surveys its members once a year about subjects like their workplaces, their professional titles, their salaries, and whether or not they enjoy their jobs. In HIMSS’s 2020 Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey
, more than 75 percent of the survey’s 1,300 respondents reported they were “highly satisfied” with their jobs.
3. Nurse informaticists command high salaries:
According to the CareerOneStop website
operated by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, the typical salary for a nurse informaticist ranges between $70,000 and slightly more than $117,000 a year
. Half the respondents in the HIMSS 2020 Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey reported earning more than $100,000 annually.
4. Nurse informaticists get a lot of job-related perks in addition to salary:
Great medical, dental, and vision insurance; matching contributions to a 401(k); life insurance; paid time off—those are just a few of the benefits you’ll get on top of your salary as a graduate of MSN in nursing informatics programs online.
5. Nurse informaticists work better hours:
RN shifts involve difficult hours. Even if you are one of the lucky ones assigned to a day shift, you’ll have to be on the unit at 7 o’clock in the morning. You may end up working swing shift (3 p.m. to 11 p.m.) or night shift (11 p.m. to 7 a.m.) You’ll have to work every other weekend and many holidays.
As a nurse informaticist, you’ll work 9-to-five days and get holidays off. You may be asked to come in on a weekend if an important project is in crunch mode, but that will be the exception, not the rule.
6. Workplace variety:
Graduates of MSN-Nursing Informatics programs work for healthcare technology companies, medical record companies, staffing agencies, and insurance companies as well as hospitals, clinics, and medical centers. According to the 2020 HIMSS survey, 46 percent of nurse informaticists work from home.
7. Many professional choices:
A degree from one of the best nursing informatics-MSN programs qualifies you for a wide assortment of job titles, including clinical analyst, clinical applications specialist, electronic health record specialist, researcher, and nurse informaticist.
8. Potential to take on leadership roles:
Graduates of MSN in nursing informatics programs are qualified to snag top executive positions like lead project manager, chief nursing informatics officer, or manager of clinical informatics.
How Long Are Online MSN-Nursing Informatics Programs?
The length of time it will take you to complete either one of the top MSN in nursing informatics online programs depends upon whether you’re a full-time or a part-time student. Most MSN in nursing informatics programs online take two years to complete. However, some schools offer accelerated programs, which can be completed in 12 to 18 months. Other schools will allow you to enroll in an RN-to-MSN nursing informatics bridge program during which you’ll be taking bachelor’s- and master’s-level courses at the same time.
Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, offers both a traditional two-year MSN as well as an accelerated one-year program. Vanderbilt University, ranked number 3 in nursing informatics by U.S. News & World Report, offers a 36-credit program that requires six semesters to complete (including two summer semesters), while the University of Pittsburgh’s online nursing informatics’ master’s degree major is a 38.5-credit, two-year program that requires five semesters. UPitt also offers nursing informatics as a minor and as a post-professional certificate.
It will take you two years of full-time study to complete the Master of Science in Health Informatics curriculum at the University of Illinois in Chicago, but the university also offers one-year certificates in health informatics at both the baccalaureate and the master’s level. The Nursing Informatics MSN at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock entails 36 credits, which can be completed in two years by full-time students who enroll in summer classes.
How Much Do Online MSN-Nursing Informatics Programs Cost?
MSN in nursing informatics online programs typically charge tuition by the credit. The average nursing informatics master’s program entails 35 to 40 credits, so you can expect to pay anywhere between $400 and $700 a credit. This means you can expect to spend somewhere between $14,000 to $28,000 earning an MSN in nursing informatics.
Public universities are usually less expensive than private universities though they often impose a surcharge on out-of-state students, making the tuition charged to those students more expensive. Some universities also charge part-time students more per credit than they charge full-time students.
At the University of South Carolina in Columbia, ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the top school for nursing informatics master’s studies
, South Carolina residents will pay $4,233 per semester and out-of-state residents will pay $7,569 per semester. The program at the University of Pittsburgh will set you back $23,696 while you’ll spend $16,546 to earn an online MSN in nursing informatics from the University of Maryland in Baltimore. Tuition and fees at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona will cost $10,760. The nursing informatics MSN at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center involves 36 semester credit hours; if you attend full-time, you will end up paying $8,806 per semester in tuition.
Core classes required for the best MSN-Nursing Informatics programs online focus on the storage, retrieval and processing of data within a nursing context. In addition to coursework in research techniques, applied statistics for evidence-based practice and systems management, you will also take classes in healthcare policy, healthcare ethics, data-driven issues in nursing, and the evaluation of new technologies.
Many of the best MSN-Nursing Informatics online programs incorporate brief campus interludes into their curricula. Duke University, which U.S. News & World Report has dubbed the fifth-best master’s-level nursing informatics course in the nation, requires students to spend two full days at its campus in Durham, North Carolina.
Most nursing informatics-MSN online programs also require a capstone project in which students come up with evidence-based solutions to problems that arise during their nursing informatics practicums. The University of Pittsburgh administers a comprehensive examination in place of the capstone project, however.
Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa offers classes in health promotion and physical assessment within the nursing informatics master’s major while Robert Morris University in Moon Township, Pennsylvania offers classes in Healthcare Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, and Transcultural Nursing Care. At Jacksonville University in Florida, students have the opportunity to take a class that applies evidence-based nursing informatics techniques in the context of global epidemiology.
In order to get into most top-rated MSN-Nursing Informatics online programs, you’ll need to have a Baccalaureate in Nursing Science (BSN)
degree and an unencumbered license in the state in which you hope to practice. A few schools like Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, offer bridge programs that enable registered nurses to earn their BSNs and MSNs in nursing informatics at the same time.
Every school will have its own unique set of admission requirements, but most programs will require you to have taken at least one graduate-level statistics class and show some evidence of basic computer and information management skills. You’ll need to arrange to have official transcripts sent from every post-secondary school you have attended. Most schools demand a minimum grade point average of 3.0. All schools require the submission of a curriculum vitae or a resume, and all schools require letters of recommendation from individuals qualified to speak to your ability to achieve success in the nursing informatics field.
If you’re applying to the University of Colorado in Aurora, you’ll need to submit an essay describing your past experience in nursing informatics as well as your plans for a professional career in that field. The University of Maryland only requires one letter of recommendation while Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center requires three. Many schools like Liberty University also require at least one year of professional experience as an RN before they will consider you for admission.
All MSN nursing informatics programs have a clinical practicum requirement. Depending upon the school, students will be responsible for completing anywhere between 350 and 700 clinical hours. Online students are typically responsible for identifying their own preceptors and clinical placement sites although these choices will be subject to approval by their program’s clinical placement coordinator. Start nailing down your clinical rotation sites as soon as you possibly can. If you have more than one rotation, try to find a different preceptor and clinical site for each one.
5 Tips To Successfully Make It Through Online MSN-Nursing Informatics Programs
Pursuing an MSN in nursing informatics program online may seem daunting at first, particularly if you’ve been out of school for a while, or you have no prior experience with distance learning. Here are five tips that can help you cope with the challenge:
1. Make school your top priority:
Many students choose online degrees over traditional campus degrees because they believe distance learning will give them more flexibility. They think they’ll be able to fit school into the cracks between the time they devote to their jobs, and their relationships with families and friends. It doesn’t work that way, however. It’s essential that you make your online nursing informatics program your number one priority. That means you may have to ease into a part-time position at your workplace and let your friends know you won’t be available for your standing afternoon gabfest.
2. Stay organized:
What’s the point of listening to a video lecture on the day it was delivered when you can listen to it the day after? Or the day after that? One of the attractions of an online MSN-Informatics program is that you can proceed through it at your own pace. But if you put school assignments off for too long, you’ll find yourself scrambling and overwhelmed come deadline time. It’s smart to stay on top of your schoolwork and not let yourself fall too far behind on your studies. As soon as you get your class syllabus, sit down with a calendar and map out exactly when you’re going to tackle reading assignments, projects, and studying for tests.
3. Create a dedicated space for studying.
Don’t use the computer and desk you set up for your schoolwork for anything but school. That means no five-minute breaks for social media or texting with your friends. This space has only one purpose, and that purpose is to help you succeed at your studies.
4. Participate in discussion forums:
Discussion forums are the online equivalent of the campus coffee shop where you get to know other students. Take advantage of them. Forum topics will range from useful information about coursework and instructors to the type of banter you’d have around a watercooler in real-time. You’re likely to be exposed to perspectives you might not have thought of on your own and more importantly, you’ll lay the groundwork for your future professional network.
5. Back up your work:
Don’t rely on your computer or other digital equipment to auto-save your assignments and other writing for you. Auto-save systems are never 100 percent reliable, and sometimes systems time out without saving your document. Get in the habit of hitting CTRL+S often.
8 Important Factors To Consider While Selecting The Right MSN In Nursing Informatics Online Program
As digitized information becomes increasingly important to the delivery of effective and cost-efficient patient care, the field of nursing informatics will continue to grow. But every one of the best MSN-Nursing Informatics programs online is set up differently. Here’s how to choose the program that’s right for you:
Accreditation is a review process designed to ensure that students are being educated in accordance with clearly defined standards. The U.S. Department of Education recognizes two agencies for the accreditation of undergraduate and graduate nursing programs: The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Make sure the school you choose to attend for your MSN in Nursing Informatics is accredited by one of these organizations.
2. National certification results:
Graduation from an MSN program doesn’t automatically certify you in nursing informatics or any other nursing specialty. In order to be certified, you must pass meet other rigorous criteria. Checking the ANCC and HIMSS certification rates associated with a prospective nursing informatics program can tell you a lot about its quality.
3. Program ranking:
U.S. News & World Report ranks nursing programs annually, using metrics like class size, graduation rates, and average educational expenditure per student. These rankings will give you an approximate idea of how well the program you’re interested in applying to serves its students.
4. Length of time:
Once you’ve taken on professional and family responsibilities, it can be hard to go back into the school rhythm for two whole years. Accelerated nursing informatics programs will minimize the amount of time you have to spend in the student role. Be aware, though, that you’ll be responsible for learning the same amount of material in an accelerated program that you would be in a two-year program; you’ll just have to learn it at a faster rate.
5. Availability of financial aid and scholarship opportunities:
Solid nursing informatics programs will make resources like financial aid and scholarships available to their students.
6. Program cost:
You’re making an investment in your future when you enroll in one of the best MSN-Nursing Informatics programs online. Nonetheless, it’s unwise to enroll in a program that’s priced so high that even if you’re eligible for financial aid and scholarships, you’ll have to survive on Ramen noodles.
7. Learning formats:
Are you more comfortable with synchronous learning where you attend online lectures in real-time or with asynchronous learning where you tune into online lectures at the time of your choosing? Make sure the format your program uses fits your personal learning style.
8: Support systems:
Does your distance learning program offer 24/7 tech support? If it doesn’t, that should be a deal-breaker. Good MSN in nursing informatics online programs will also provide you with accessible instructors, clinical placement coordinators, and a financial aid office that will work hard to fulfill your needs.
FOLLOWING ARE THE 26 BEST ONLINE MSN IN NURSING INFORMATICS PROGRAMS FOR 2021
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What Kind Of Career Opportunities Exist For Graduates Of This Program?
Nursing informaticists work in a wide range of professional settings, including hospitals, medical centers, skilled nursing facilities, ambulatory care clinics, insurance companies, consulting firms, health-related corporations, and universities. They work as nurse informaticists, technology developers, software engineers, researchers, clinical analysts, hospital nursing and information officers, and consultants.
Average Earnings For Graduates Of This Program
According to Payscale.com, a compensation analysis company, the median wage for nurse informaticists is $40.32 an hour, which comes to nearly $7,000 a month or a little less than $84,000 a year. This is approximately 25 percent more than the average registered nurse who does not have a master’s degree makes.
| Hourly||$40.32 |
| Monthly||$6,990 |
| Annual||$83,869 |
Job Market For Graduates Of This Program
The nursing informatics profession can be looked upon as a hybrid of information management and nursing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics
projects that the demand for both these occupations will grow at a comparable rate between 2019 and 2029: information management by 8 percent
and registered nursing by 7 percent
. MSN in nursing informatics online programs definitely provide graduates with job security.
Top Professional Associations & Organizations
Four membership organizations support the practice and mission of professional nursing informatics:
• Alliance for Nursing Informatics (ANI):
ANI fosters nursing informatics practice, research, and policy development. The organization publishes a monthly magazine called “Computers, Informatics, Nursing Journal.”
• American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA):
AHIMA is an organization for health informaticists; its membership includes nurse informaticists as well as others who work at the intersection of healthcare, technology, and business. AHIMA provides opportunities for networking and continuing education.
• American Nursing Informatics Association (ANIA):
ANIA is a group of nursing professionals who are dedicated to the integration of nursing science, computer science, and information science.
• Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS):
HIMSS is dedicated to reforming the global health ecosystem through technology. This organization offers professional certification and also conducts a yearly survey of its members, which is a valuable source of information about the nurse informaticist and health informaticist professions.
If you’re interested in improving patient care and patient outcomes, but you’d like to step away from bedside nursing, nursing informatics could be the career choice you’ve been looking for. You’ll need an aptitude for quantitative analysis and IT in order to excel in this profession. Graduating from one of the best MSN in nursing informatics online programs for 2021 is the best way to prepare yourself for this career.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY OUR EXPERT
What’s the difference between health informatics and nursing informatics?
Nursing informatics focuses specifically on issues that arise during the provision of patient care whereas health informatics focuses on issues that pertain to the overall administration of a large healthcare system. Thus, nursing informatics can be seen as a subset of health informatics.
Can I work while I’m enrolled in a nursing informatics MSN?
Most nursing informatics programs won’t prohibit you from working while you’re enrolled. Keep in mind, however, that the program is difficult, and you are likely to need upwards of 20 hours a week to stay on top of all your schoolwork. If you need to work for financial reasons, it’s probably wisest to enroll as a part-time student.
Will I need to be certified after I graduate from one of the MSN in nursing informatics online programs in order to work as a nurse informaticist?
Certification at the state level is not a requirement for nurse informaticists anywhere in the U.S. However, many hospitals and medical centers where you’re likely to find employment may require certification. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)
offers a credential called the Informatics Nursing Certification (RN-BC)
that requires at least 2,000 practice hours and 30 credits of continuing education in the nursing informatics field. HIMSS offers two certifications: an entry-level credential called Certified Associate in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CAHIMS)
and an advanced credential called Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS)
Will prospective employers look down on me for completing my nursing informatics MSN online?
No. These days, online degrees are as credible as degrees earned through more traditional, campus-based programs.