1. Anderson, Christel MA
  2. Sensmeier, Joyce MS, RN-BC, CPHIMS, FHIMSS, FAAN
  3. Kwiatkoski, Tammy MBA

Article Content

Building upon research that began in 2004, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) 2020 Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey continues to show that nurse informaticists play a crucial role in healthcare. As we celebrate the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, it is a unique opportunity to recognize the increasing importance of the nurse informaticist.



An email invitation, with a link to the Web-based survey, was sent to nurse informaticists in Winter 2019. Invitations to participate in the survey were also distributed by organizations that sponsored and supported the research, including the Alliance for Nursing Informatics, which represents 25 nursing informatics groups globally.


More than two-thirds (68%) of the 1359 survey respondents work for a hospital or multifacility health system. The 2020 survey formally captured workforce data from a global audience with 94 respondents reporting they work primarily outside the U.S. More than half (53%) work at a Magnet-designated hospital, and 41% work at an HIMSS EMRAM Stage 6/7 Hospital. This may correlate to the increased value of informatics in health system achievements. The majority of the remaining respondents work for a vendor/payer, government or military organization, or in an academic setting. Ambulatory nurse informaticists are on the rise, with 6% of respondents reporting the ambulatory environment as their primary workplace.



This year saw an uptick in the percentage of respondents (62%) who have a master's degree in nursing (24%), nursing informatics (27%), or some other field (11%). In comparison, 59% of respondents reported having a postgraduate degree in any field in 2017. This may correlate to the increased percentage of survey respondents in leadership roles. This year also showed a significant change in reporting structure, with more nurse informaticists reporting to nursing (40%), quality (12%), and operations (9%) over the historical trend of reporting to information technology (IT) (48%).



The role of chief nursing informatics officer/senior nursing informatics officer continues to be advancing, with 41% of respondents reporting that their organization had the formal role. In 2020, 10% of respondents reported holding the title of manager of clinical informatics as compared with only 1% in 2017. The percentage of director-level respondents increased as well to 11% as compared with 7% in 2017. Still, the majority of respondents (24%) stated their title was nursing informatics specialist, a small increase over 2017's 20%.



Barriers to Success

Over the history of the survey, there has been a shift in the identified barriers to success as a nurse informaticist. In the 2004 and 2007 surveys, respondents identified the lack of financial resources as the top barrier, whereas in 2011, it was the lack of integration and interoperability. In 2014 and 2017, a lack of administrative support and a lack of staffing resources were the primary barriers faced. This year, 21% of respondents chose IT priorities as the top barrier, followed closely by organizational structure (20%).


Career Satisfaction

Satisfaction of respondents' current position and their career choice in informatics was rated using a 1- to 7-point scale where 1 was "not at all satisfied" and 7 was "highly satisfied." Just over half (51%) of respondents indicated that they were highly satisfied with their current position (score of >=6), which is down seven percentage points from 2017 (58%). The majority of respondents (77%) reported being highly satisfied with their informatics career choice, which is down a more modest three percentage points from 2017 (80%). Overall, respondents seem to have remained quite satisfied with their choice of career in informatics but not as satisfied with the current position they hold.



The number of respondents with any certification took a significant jump from 49% in 2017 to 58% in 2020. In a new question for 2020, survey respondents selected enhanced credibility and marketability (49%) and personal satisfaction (45%) as the top reasons to pursue certification. These answers also topped the list when asked about perceived value of certification, although personal satisfaction (81%) edged out over enhanced credibility and marketability (78%). Certification was again found to have a fairly high impact on respondents' career paths. The average rating for the impact certification has on a career was 5.14 out of 7 as compared with 4.96 in 2017.


Informatics Career

Nearly a third (31%) of respondents reported having more than 10 years of experience in nursing informatics, the same as in 2017. However, the percent with less than a year of experience increased from 8% in 2017 to 14% in 2020, which may indicate an increase in nurses entering nursing informatics practice. The number of respondents who have been in their current role for more than 5 years also increased a substantial amount from 31% in 2017 to 38%.


Job Responsibilities

Approximately a third (36%) of respondents manage at least one direct report, with 19% managing between one and five employees. Another 8% manage six to 10 employees. This year's question about job responsibilities also included two new categories: project management (30% of respondents) and change/control management (26% of respondents). The top job responsibilities of nurse informaticists continue to be systems implementation (44%) and utilization/optimization (41%). While systems development is still in the top three job responsibilities, only 34% of respondents report currently working in this area.


Nursing Background

In terms of respondents' clinical experience prior to becoming a nurse informaticist, more respondents (25%) indicated they had 6 to 10 years of experience than in 2017 respondents (22%). On the other hand, there was a noticeable decline in the number of respondents reporting having more than 20 years of experience at the bedside from 26% in 2011 to 19% in 2020.



The number of respondents earning more than $150 000 a year stayed the same (11%) since 2017. The number of respondents making $131 000 to $150 000 rose by four percentage points in the same time period, and those making $116 000 to $130 000 increased by three percentage points. Similar to previous years, the majority of respondents (63%) stated they earn a base annual salary between $61 000 and $115 000.


Training and Education

Training and education continue to be a priority for nurse informaticists, and 2020 survey results saw a significant rise in formal training. The percentage of respondents who have a master's degree or PhD is 37% as compared with 31% in 2017. Those who have received a certificate in nursing informatics rose from 20% in 2017 to 25% in 2020. And 15% of respondents reported having completed a vendor/supplier certification, a new category in the 2020 survey. On-the-job training continued its downward trend, with 54% of respondents reporting they engaged in it as compared with 56% in 2017 and 58% in 2014. The top three resources for continuing education were audio conferences/webinars (71%), professional organizations (59%), and national conferences (57%).


Full report findings are available at