By Laura Raines
According to Merriam-Webster, informatics is “the collection, classification, storage, retrieval, and dissemination of recorded knowledge.” With a mandate for health care providers to switch to electronic medical records and achieve “meaningful use” by 2014 looming, informatics is a hot career field for nurses.
The American Medical Informatics Association estimates that employers need about 70,000 health informatics specialists to install and maintain new systems and train staff to use them.
While the increased demand for specialists is relatively new, the field is not. Nurses have been helping hospitals adopt technology to work smarter since before the specialty even had a name.
Nancy Stockslager, who became a nurse in 1983, worked in neonatal intensive care units until she was presented with a unique job opportunity in 1995. A health care corporation was buying products to create a clinical technology records system. When she was asked to help build the system, she accepted the challenge and never looked back.
Today, as director of clinical informatics at Gwinnett Medical Center, Stockslager, RN, MSN, is responsible for implementation, process analysis, training and maintaining all the health care network’s clinical technology systems. Gwinnett Medical already has adopted electronic medical records and is working toward computerized provider order entry, in which physicians enter their own orders.
“Informatics has been a very exciting journey and I love it, but it’s a constant challenge. There is never a dull moment,” she said.