“The measure of intelligence is the willingness to change”—Albert Einstein. Nurse informaticist Betsy Weiner likes that quote because change is what informatics is all about.

The senior associate dean for informatics at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing proved the point at the Nursing Informatics Symposium at HIMSS14 by giving an example at how informatics education has been provided in just the past three decades. First there was computer-assisted instruction, then interactive videodisk, followed with CD, DVD, Web and now virtual worlds such as Second Life.

Only now, however, are nurse informaticists really starting to be commonly accepted and some serious challenges are facing this cadre of health workers, Weiner said. For starters, the pioneers are looking at retirement and recruitment of new informatics faculty is needed.

More importantly is the need to protect the nurse informaticist workforce that already is in place while getting more students in the doors, Weiner said. As hospitals adjust to new reimbursement schemes by cutting costs that include downsizing of the labor force, the informatics world must make its importance known. “We need to protect nurse informaticists to make sure they aren’t at risk because no one knows what they are doing.” One way to spread the word is to stop publishing in informatics journals--and speaking to the choir--and getting placement in other journals, Weiner suggested.

Another challenge is to develop more nurse informaticists who remain in active clinical practice, Weiner said. More than three-quarters of current nurse informaticists are not doing clinical activities and the need exists to get active nurses on informatics teams.

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