Health informatics and the sub-discipline of nursing informatics are very recent additions to the medical specialties field and, as such, are poised for rapid expansion in the near future. A nursing informatics degree combines the science of nursing and traditional nurse-training courses with information science and computer technology courses. While many current nurse informatics already have a background as an RN, or Registered Nurse, most have at least a masters or doctoral degree in nursing prior to pursuing the technology courses needed to transition to the nursing informatics field.
However, more and more schools are now offering nursing informatics degrees for students wishing to become an RN fluent in informatics right out of college, although the minimum degree for this field is a graduate degree at the master’s level. Graduates in this field will be able to successfully manage and process nursing data and information, provide information to assist health care providers, work in system implementation and training and even develop new technology for the health care industry.
While not all nursing schools include informatics, degrees can be found at several well-known colleges, including Duke University, Indiana University, and Vanderbilt University.
Duke’s program can be taken either online, on campus, or a combination of both. Having established its Bachelors of Science in Nursing program in 1953, Duke has since expanded its nursing programs to include a variety of degrees ranging from bachelors to doctoral levels now including informatics. While financial aid is available for most graduate programs, total costs for a graduate program at Duke can reach as much as $60,000 per year.
At Indiana University, students can add informatics to an existing nursing degree at the masters or doctoral level, regardless of which particular nursing degree they are already seeking. Indiana University’s School of Nursing has been around since 1914 and is considered one of the top schools to offer nursing degrees. Courses in informatics with Indiana University provide for learning about various clinical information systems, analyzing data, learning about different computer technologies and participating in a nursing information practicum. A graduate program at Indiana University can be a little more budget friendly than Duke, with an estimated total of both direct and indirect costs of about $40,000 per year.
Finally, Vanderbilt University offers a clinical systems and educational informatics program in a format that includes distance learning, block campus scheduling and online conferencing. The informatics programs here are aligned with the Department of Biomedical Informatics at Vanderbilt, so that cross-disciplinary clinical experiences are part of the degree programs. Vanderbilt School of Nursing has been ranked as one of the top 20 nursing schools in the country by the U.S. News & World Report’s 2011 university rankings, with Vanderbilt ranked 17th overall among national universities in this same report. The cost of attending such a highly-ranked program, however, is a bit higher at an estimate of about $80,000 for three semesters per year, to include Fall, Spring, and Summer.