The two-day Nursing Informatics Symposium at HIMSS14 on Feb. 23-24 marks the 10th anniversary of the event, and that means it’s time for a little reflection.

A session at 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 24 will assess the current and future state of nursing informatics, and give results from the 4th Annual HIMSS Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey. Betsy Weiner, R.N. senior associate dean for informatics at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, will lay out the challenges.

Two big hurdles, she notes, are the lack of collaboration in academia to standardize curricula and the need to get more graduates “because there aren’t enough nurse informaticists out there.” Weiner also will discuss a debate within the community where some schools are dropping a Master’s Degree in informatics in favor of a Doctorate in Nursing Practice, which focuses less on research and more on applied practices such as developing clinical protocols. The nation needs more nursing informatics graduates and this debate needs resolution, she believes.

Weiner also will call for more action to market the value of nurse informaticists and the need to have them become part of the HIT team of an organization. “Some institutions don’t understand what a nurse informaticist can do for them. We need to get the value out there. Even if hired, they might be downsized because they’re not valued.”

Nurse informaticists bring skills to protocol development, standardized quantification of care to standardize vocabulary, and how to best utilize nurses in team-based care environments, among other skills, Weiner contends. “They need to be sitting at the right tables and we need to be growing more of them.”

During the session, Ruth Schleyer, R.N., chief nursing informatics officer at Providence Health & Services, will walk through issues that relate to current nurse informatics practices and changes over the past decade. Gail Latimer, R.N., vice president and chief nurse officer at Siemens Healthcare, will focus on nursing leadership and the shift from having a role in I.T. to becoming CNOs and CIOs as the industry shifts to coordinated care. They’ll also leave some time to get feedback from the audience.

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