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+

Readers’ Questions About Nursing Informatics Salaries




One of the most common questions readers email me concerns nursing informatics salaries.

A lot of nurses out there want to know how much they could earn in the informatics field if they switch from nursing to informatics.

I therefore decided to post a generic response to these recurrent questions. You should bear in mind that each case is different, so these answers are not absolute, but should serve as a point of reference

For more information about salaries in specific states, or even cities, you can look at my other posts where I go over these stats.

But as I have said it before, the range of nursing informatics salaries vary because of factors like location, job title/position, experience, application being used, etc.

Now to the questions:

I’ve been a clinical nurse for X number of years. What type of salary should I expect as an entry level analyst in informatics? Will it be much higher than what I make as a current clinical nurse?

nursing informatics salary questions
If you’re going from a clinical job to an informatics job for the first time, there is really no guarantee that you will make a higher salary.

I have seen all types of cases happening: nurses get offered a lower salary because they have zero project implementation, others keep the same salary because they got a job in the same hospital where they work as a clinical nurse, and others actually get a salary raise when they get a job in informatics.

There is really no formula that will tell you what type of salary you’re going to get.

I know of colleagues who were so desperate to get a job in this field that they decided to take a job at a much lower pay because they simply wanted to get their foot in the door.

And I’ve met a few who got a significant raise when they switched fields.

What needs to be keep in mind is that no matter what salary you’re offered, ALWAYS negotiate.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a higher sum because many times the employer will say something along the lines of, “we can talk to HR to see if we can offer you a higher salary, but if we can’t, the offer still stands.”

Thus, there is nothing to lose. You ask for a higher offer, it is not approved, but you still have the job, so nothing lost.




I have seen that many nurses don’t negotiate their salary and take whatever is offered. And from my personal experience, it seems that employers always love to low-ball candidates, so negotiate!

But if you want to get an idea as to what others are making in your state, then visit my other page where I break down salaries by state, and even cities.

If you’re getting a job in a different state or city, make sure you get an idea of what the living costs are in that city. Making 75k in Texas for example, is not the same as making 75k in the Northeast, for example.

As far as making a higher salary, yes, it is possible to do it as an entry level analyst, but again, there is no formula out there that I can give you that will say, if you follow this formula, for sure you’ll make more money.

What is guaranteed though is that with experience, you’ll probably make more money than what you did as a clinical nurse.

Is it true that an informatics nurse can make from 75 to 100 dollars per hour? How can I get these type of jobs?

Yes, this is a possibility, but is definitely not the average salary out there.

Consulting travel jobs pay a lot more than your regular “hospital” and even vendor jobs.

When you work for a hospital or a vendor as an informatics analyst, most likely you will have a yearly salary, and these salaries as I have discussed in my other posts, vary by state, type of position, type of application you support, and also your experience.

You will have your usual hours, 8 to 5, 40 hours a week, and so many weeks of vacation. Obviously some weeks you might work than 40 hours, but since you have a yearly salary, you might be compensated with some time off, or whatever else the employer deems appropriate.

When you work as a consultant, you then get a hourly rate. The minimal hourly rate I have seen as a consultant is 50 dollars per hour. Rate increases of course based on position, application, location, etc.

Again, to be a consultant, you need to have past experience. If you have never worked in the field before, then most likely you can’t really expect to get a job in a consulting company and come out and make 75 dollars per hour.

Probably you will have to start in the typical analyst role and once you get some experience, then you can start branching out in the consulting world.

Or some people are lucky and they were super users in the past and they used that experience to land consulting jobs.

I have met a couple of nurses who did this before, and go live support or training gigs are the ones that tend to offer these type of opportunities.

However, go live support gigs or training gigs tend to be short assignments so once those are finished, then you’re back to looking for new clients, but at least you have experience that can go on your resume.

The risks of having a consulting job is that you might be hired for a year contract, but then in the middle of the project, the client might decide they don’t need you anymore and then you’re out of a job. If no other projects come up, then you’re on the bench, not making money.

However, to get these jobs, you need to have some experience in the field. It is unlikely that if you have no experience in the field, you will be hired by a consulting company and make 100 dollars per hour.

And also, not every consulting job pays 75 dollars per hour. Some pay less, some can pay more, but again, it all depends on the experience you have, on the skills you possess, and even in the location where you work.

I’ve also been contacted on this blog by other readers and told that some consulting companies out there will offer entry level nurses a salary of less than 60,000 dollars per year, in exchange for a 2 year contract to work with these consulting companies.

The consulting company will train you and then assign you a client.

In my opinion, for a consultant,that is really a low salary, specially when you’re bound by a 2 year contract.

Nonetheless, if that’s the only way you think you can get a foot in the door in the profession, then is not a bad idea. Personally, I wouldn’t do it as I think the salary is low, but I understand that many are trying to get in this field and the competition is severe.

How To Dress For A Nursing Informatics Interview

Have you been called for your first informatics interview and you’re wondering what to wear? Although this is a simple decision to make, once in a while we get a candidate that shows up to an interview dressed NOT for success.




If you work in healthcare, in any clinical role such as a nurse, rehab therapist, or even a unit clerk, it is no anomaly to show up every day for your job in bright and unique colorful scrubs, unless your facility has designated specific “scrub uniforms” for your role.

What about if you have to go to an interview for an informatics role? Is it ok to show up in scrubs? After all, if you have a clinical role in the hospital, that’s what most likely you wear every day and what you’re used to. Will the hiring manager be fine if they see you in scrubs?

My most simple answer to this question is, it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed for a job interview. I would rather show up to an interview dressed conservatively than show up in a polo shirt and jeans.

There might be exceptions to this rule, and I’ll talk about the one case where it might be ok to show up in scrubs to your informatics interview, but in general, a suit and tie (a nice blouse with a blazer for the ladies) will always beat any other outfit out there.

We all know the cliché, “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” And showing up to an informatics interview is no exception to this.

Even though you’re interviewing for a position that might be in the hospital and you might believe that wearing a conservative outfit to the interview is overkill, it is always best to play it safe and be dressed as if the CIO of the hospital might be there.

I’m no fashion guru, but the safest advice I can give is: Men, wear a suit and tie, and do your best to look presentable.

For women, a suit or blazer with a nice matching skirt or pants (whatever is most personally comfortable) is always a safe idea.

Keep your hair tidy and presentable and for both, men and women, do not over do the cologne or perfume. Also for ladies, don’t overdo the makeup.

What about those hot summer days, especially in places like New Mexico, Texas, or Florida—do I still have to dress up to the interview? Couldn’t I just wear some casual clothes, like a short sleeve polo shirt?

Again, remember the following: conservative interviewers will be offended if you’re not dressed professionally, while someone who’s laid back will not be offended if you’re dressed professionally. So wear that conservative outfit in hot days. There are plenty of career sites out there with plenty of tips on how to stay cool even in a hot day while being dressed up.

There are some candidates that will show up in casual clothes to an interview and I have seen some even show up in scrubs. I’m guessing they believe that it’s ok to wear scrubs because they are applying for a job in a hospital.

It is true. As an informatics analyst, I don’t wear a suit and tie to my job, nor do I show up every day dressed in long sleeve shirts and slacks. But I already have a job and I already know the culture of my workplace. Somebody who is interviewing for a job needs to look sharp. No excuses.

Also, keep in mind that you’re not the only person being interviewed for the job. When you dress conservatively, you also get to outshine those people who show up to the interview with casual outfits; being well dressed for the interview does make an impression on your interviewers.

Let’s talk now about the one time that scrubs might be acceptable to an informatics interview. If you’re working at a facility and you’re approached by the informatics hiring manager, and this person tells you, “Would you be interested in interviewing for the clinical analyst position? I know you’re working, but if you’d like, we can do the interview right before your shift starts or after you get off work.”

In this unique case, then it might be ok to show up in scrubs, as you will have no time to get all dressed up and then show up for work, or get off work, and immediately get dressed up for the interview. But even if this happens to you, then always voice your concern to the manager, “I will not be dressed appropriately to the interview because obviously it will be during my workday, is it ok to show up in scrubs to the interview?” Never hurts to ask, but like I said, in these situations, hiring managers understand the predicament and they are not expecting the interviewee to show up all dressed up.

We actually had one candidate who was in a similar situation. He had been attending the user meetings for months and some clinical analyst positions opened up. The hiring manager had a free spot the next day and she asked him if he could come during his shift to interview for the role.

To our surprise, this candidate showed up to the interview in the middle of his shift dressed up with a long sleeve shirt, nice pants (trousers for those in the UK) and a tie. The manager made the joke if he had taken the day off to get ready, but he said that since he worked in the OR, he just took the clothes and put them in the locker room and it took him 2 minutes to get ready. Needless to say, we were delighted to see this type of dedication.

Also, if you’re interviewing with a vendor, ALWAYS show up dressed up!

In short, it is better to be overdressed for an informatics interview than it is to show up and then second guess yourself if you are dressed appropriately for the interview!

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The Nursing Informatics Salary Range Gap

Even though in 2011 HIMSS released a survey which stated that average salary in Nursing Informatics is $98,702, in reality the salary range for nursing informatics professionals shows a wide gap.




As a nursing informatics professional, I have worked for vendors, for hospitals, and as a consultant, and in my 8 years in the field, I have seen all types of nursing informatics salary ranges.

For the average salary in nursing informatics to be in the range of almost $99,000, you would expect starting salaries to be very high.

However, depending on the state, depending on the city, and even depending on the job title, one can easily find informatics jobs that start even below $50,000.

To demonstrate this huge salary gap, I collected data from all states with different cities from salary.com, and I then averaged these salaries to obtain the graph shown below:

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
The Reason the HIMSS Numbers Don’t Add Up

The first thing to consider is that the 2011 HIMSS Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey consisted ONLY of 660 participants. 56% of these 660 participants have a post-graduate degree: either a Master’s or PhD in Nursing or other field or specialty.

Furthermore, 40% of the participants worked for employers with annual gross revenues between $11 – 200 million, and more than 39% of the respondents had worked in the informatics field for at least 10 years.

Thus, this information in the survey tells us 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 an average salary of $98,702.
Also, one crucial fact not mentioned in this survey is job location. It is obvious that a person living in New York City or a person living in San Francisco for instance, is going to have a higher salary than a person living in Jackson, Mississippi. Yet this factor is not even mentioned in the survey.

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.

But again, let’s not forget 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.

Also, consultants make higher salaries than most hospital analysts, and that’s because they are traveling, and they also get paid hourly, and many are offered bonuses, on top of the hourly salary. But those with a family life don’t like to be consultants as it requires weekly traveling, although as you get more experience, you can negotiate to work remotely.

But if you are a nurse just entering the nursing informatics profession and you are offered a salary that doesn’t hover near the $98,000 advertised by HIMSS, don’t be disappointed 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 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.

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.

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

 

 

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.

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.

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.

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:

 

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.

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.

But if you want to relocate, Orbitz coupons are available for professional travel.

What is Nursing Informatics?

The American Nursing Informatics Association defines nursing informatics as

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




This is a very succint definition of nursing informatics, and in this post, I’ll further expand on what it really means to merge all these fields together.

Nonetheless, you can explore other topics in the blog below.

Nursing Informatics interview questions.
Nursing Informatics vs Clinical Informatics
Nursing informatics salaries

Understanding What Nursing Informatics Is

Nursing informatics falls within the field of health informatics. People who have a nursing degree could implement computer applications in different health care settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, doctor’s offices, public health clinics, among others.

Before I go further I want to clarify that nursing informatics jobs specifically require a person to have a nursing degree. However, you can be in another healthcare profession and get a job as an informatics or clinical analyst. To read more about this, click here.


Implementing these health care computer applications requires the initiation of a project, which goes through various, standard phases.

A project starts with the design and analysis phase, the configuring phase is next, which is followed by the testing phase, training, and the implementation and support phases.

Each of the above phases requires the nursing informatics analyst to perform specific tasks, while at the same time, the role also serves as a liaison between various departments within a healthcare facility.

Designing And Analyzing

To understand these phases, let’s suppose a hospital decides to switch from paper documentation to an electronic record for the nurses in a rehab unit.

To start this ambitious project the informatics nurse must meet with the rehab nursing team and the following tasks could be performed:

  • Give a demo of how the application to be implemented in the department works
  • Explain how the application can be configured to meet the needs of the users and department
  • Gather and collect all data related to the documentation the nursing rehab team does
  • Lastly, analyze the current workflow of how the department works, and make tweaks,  updates as needed

All the steps above are part of the design and analysis phase of the project.

Configuring The Application

Once all this information has been collected by the informatics nurse, the next step is to configure the application(s) based on this data, which most likely will have new department workflows that hopefully will take advantage of the electronic medical record.

One analyst can be assigned to configure the application, but most likely, there are different analysts working on different parts of the system.

For instance, one analyst could be in charge of creating the assessments the rehab unit will use, while another analyst is specifically assigned to do the the assessments of different nursing units, while another analyst is in charge of creating/maintaning the users in the database.

Testing

Once the application(s) has been configured, the next step is to test it to make sure no errors happen for the users. Also, this is a good time to verify that the application behaves as designed.

For example, the design for a doctor’s screen might be different than for a nurse’s. Logging on to the system as a doctor should take you to the Doctor’s view, not the nurses view.

Testing specific modules of the system is known as unit testing. One analyst might be in charged of testing different modules in a system, or this person might spefically test some modules.

For instance, the analyst responsible for uploading or creating users in the system could run a script to verity that all the users are there, while the person in charge of creating the assessments could verify if all the elements are in place.

Once each module is verified that is working as designed and built, integration testing takes place. This is when all the modules are tested together to make sure everything flows without hiccups.

Training

The nursing informatics analyst is responsible for training the users on how to use the system.

However, some organizations have a specific role for a application trainer, and in this case, the analyst trains the trainer on how to use the system.

The trainer is then responsible for creating the training material and the informatics analyst could review it to make sure there are no errors.

But typically the informatics analyst trains the users and also develops the training material for the users.

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.

So What Is Nursing Informatics?

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’.

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.

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!

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 5 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 informatics” interviews.

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.

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

 

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