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.

Chris (20 Posts)

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

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

  • Rose says:

    This blog was so helpful! I’m so glad I stumbled on it! I am finishing up my first year as a new grad RN. I’m very interested in helping develop hospital/healthcare software. However, I have no one to guide me to get to my goal. I’m pretty sure there aren’t even any schools offering RN to MSN informatics in my state (Virginia). After reading this article, it looks like getting my masters in informatics could possibly be a waste of time and I could start now? If I’m understanding this correctly. The hospital I work for is having a software company come to get the Physicians *on-line, or using the software instead of the paper chart. Each physician will have his own “personal trainer” for 3 months. I was one of the selected to help out and train due to my level of understanding of the software & computer skills. Could this be enough for a resume to get me started in the informatics field?

    • admin says:

      Yes, you’re correct. You don’t need a masters in informatics to get a job in this field. Your physician training experience will get you a job because that’s actual experience in the field and that’s highly valued in the field.

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