In the early 1970s, computers cleared the way for information technology to enter the healthcare landscape. However, it wasn’t until individual computers were a factor in the latter half of the decade, that health IT started to become widely acknowledged. The onset of utilizing computers in clinical patient care did not present itself until quite a few years later. Even then, the acceptance was gradual, utilizing computer technology in specialized departments at first such as radiology, laboratory, and pharmacy. As IT began to transform various departments within healthcare organizations, the industry realized the need to bridge the gap of communication amongst IT personnel and clinicians to tackle matters of patient care. Thus, creating the specialty of Nursing Informatics.
In 2008, The American Nursing Association defined Nursing Informatics as “A specialty that integrates nursing science and computer science to manage and communicate data, information, and knowledge in nursing practice.”
The notion of higher education for nurses was first introduced in 1893 and since then has come a long way. Healthcare has evolved in countless ways since 1893, and one of those transformations is the emergence of technology. In a survey conducted by the University of Phoenix ® College of Health Professions, “68 percent of administrative staff and 67 percent of registered nurses indicate that technology skills are essential to staying relevant in healthcare”. Luckily for practitioners, institutions recognized this transformation and have adjusted their offerings to meet the needs of the industry. Below is an overview of the evolution of higher education for Nursing Informatics:
- Late 1800s: Nurses received “hands-on” training in wards. No formal accreditation.
- Early 1900s: Nursing schools were added to hospital campuses which educated women who received 8-15 hours of instruction per week.
- 1923: Yale University was the first institution to offer autonomous nursing education
- 1925: Yale Nursing School, Annie Walburton Goodrich, offers first Bachelor of Science in Nursing
- 1956: Columbia University first to offer a master’s degree in a clinical specialty for nurses
- 1965: First Nurse Practitioner program offered at University of Colorado
- 1967: First Master’s program for Nurse Practitioners at Boston College
- 1979: Case Western offered first doctoral nursing program
- 1988: First graduate program in Nursing Informatics at the University of Maryland School of Nursing with a focus on understanding nursing informatics systems and science
- 1990: University of Utah offered a graduate program for Nursing Informatics focused on the transformation of data into clinical decision-making.
- 1995: Nursing Informatics certification became available through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)
- 1992: Nursing Informatics was formally recognized as a nursing specialty by the American Nurses Association
- 1998: New York University School of Nursing offered a nursing informatics graduate track
- 2003: The University of Arizona College of Nursing offered the first doctorate in nursing with the option of study being healthcare informatics
- Today: 106+ Specialty nursing programs offered
- Today: With the change in technology, more and more institutions are beginning to offer varied Nursing Informatics degrees as a part of their nursing programs.
With the push for healthcare reform, nurses who have an informatics background are not only learning how to improve patient outcomes, but adding value-based care back into the hospital. This level of education allows for more opportunities in improvements in patient care and fosters a stronger communication between healthcare providers and patients.
Uncovering the right balance of information science in aggregation with nursing science is an ongoing process that will depend on the progressive thinking and determination of today's modern, educated nurse and the support of nursing informatics specialists.