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AACN Clinical Issues: Advanced Practice in Acute & Critical Care:
Articles

Nursing Informatics: The Key to Unlocking Contemporary Nursing Practice

Zytkowski, Marianela E. MS, RN, BC

Section Editor(s): Abbott, Patricia A. PhD, RN, BC, FAAN

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Abstract

Nursing informatics is a relatively new nursing specialty. Recognized by the American Nurses’ Association in 1992, this field within nursing has grown exponentially. Once the purview of highly specialized individuals, nursing informatics has now crept into all dimensions of nursing, from domain of advanced nurse practitioners to prominence in critical care nursing. Nowhere is the management and processing of health-related information more important than in the care of the critically ill patient. Fast-paced environments, split-second decision making, wireless communications, monitoring systems run with computerized backbones, and computerized ordering and documentation, all things unimaginable just a decade ago, are now fundamental to nursing practice. Each requires a baseline understanding of informatics for true mastery. The domain of nursing informatics continues to grow as nursing incorporates expanded roles and new technology into practice. Education for nurse informaticians includes preparation from the baccalaureate level through the doctorate level and national board certification. Areas of practice are expansive, including hospitals, industry, education, policy-making, research, administration, and international settings. Although informaticians work with computers, computing technology is not the heart of the domain. Computers are simply tools that are used. Examples of informatics tools include handheld devices, point-of-care documentation, computerized provider order entry, and bar code medication administration. Nursing informatics plays an essential role in the future directions of healthcare by defining the relationship between nurses and information technology as well as the knowledge that can be gained when these domains work together.

© Copyright 2003 American Association of Critical-Care Nurses

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