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Discussion question: Week 4: Informatics Skills

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Discussion question: Week 4: Informatics Skills

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How do the informatics skills you are now developing/expanding upon and validating help you meet current informatics skills levels? How did the TANIC self-assessment change your impression of your current informatics skill levels?


Our focus this week is upon the different levels of informatics competencies expected of nurses from beginner to experienced nurses, but our primary interest is the informatics knowledge, skills, and attitudes expected of the masters prepared nurse. This includes role expectations. We will also discuss strategies to develop as well as improve informatics competencies, such as the skills needed to move through a virtual learning environment (VLE).


As a knowledge worker, every nurse uses data and information. We acquire knowledge, process it, and disseminate what we have learned —most of that dissemination occurs informally in our daily communication and work while only a few of us will disseminate knowledge formally through scholarly presentations and publications. And a few—primarily the researchers among us—will generate new knowledge. This week, we look at the relationship between our roles, competencies, and where we fall in relationship to the foundation of knowledge model.   In earlier weeks, we talked about the potential of HIT to transform healthcare, introduced the topic of knowledge work, and addressed the need for nurses to demonstrate informatics competencies in order to function in today’s technologically rich healthcare delivery system and even as a means to help transform healthcare delivery through technology. Of course, nothing is quite that straightforward or simple. But the realization of healthcare transformation still requires more. This week, we look at current nursing roles, the process of knowledge work, role expectations, competencies, and changes needed to achieve a new healthcare delivery system.

Nurses perform many different tasks and roles now—direct-care provider, patient advocate, educator, and administrator—to name a few. But typically, nurses have been in the supporting, nearly invisible role rather than as a full partner in the healthcare delivery process. According to the Institute of Medicine’s (2012) Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health report, nurses can play a major role in realizing the objectives set forth in the 2010 Affordable Care Act, legislation that guaranteed access to healthcare and established incentives to improve coordination of care, but changes are needed in the following areas to enable that role:

  • Nurses must practice to the fullest extent of their levels of education and experience.
  • Redesign of nursing education to promote a seamless progression for nurses seeking higher levels of education and training.
  • Nurses must be full partners with other healthcare professionals in healthcareredesign.
  • Better data collection and information structures are needed to inform effective workforce planning and policy.

In keeping with the spirit of the Future of Nursing report, Reay, Goodrick, Casebeer, and Hinings (2013) called for a move from a physician-centered healthcare delivery model to one that is interdisciplinary in which other professionals, including nurses and nurse practitioners, would assume stronger roles.

Stronger roles are more expected today, especially if there are informatics skills and background as nurses further their education, few see themselves as moving into a leadership role, however it is imperative that faculty with this expertise support and help students achieve this potential. This situation requires further attention by educators to help students view leadership as a possibility. When other members of the healthcare team have difficulty perceiving nurses as full partners in the process due in part to both fewer years of education and numerous entry levels into the profession, it is imperative that faculty with expertise support students. But what, if any, relevance does this have for informatics? The changes called for in the Future of Nursing report rely heavily upon the knowledge-work aspect of nursing’s role, which in turn, requires informatics competencies—another recognition needed by educators, administrators, and nurses, themselves. With informatics competencies, those in leadership have raised the bar and expectations as well. Informatics competencies are key to effective knowledge work and advances in nurses as leaders.

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