Perspective Triad: The Role of the Nurse Informaticist in Higher Education

Submitted by Kylie Ackerman, MS-NI, MSN-Ed, RN, CNEn

Tags: Higher Education informatics Nurse Informaticist

Perspective Triad: The Role of the Nurse Informaticist in Higher Education

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Though nurse informaticists are traditionally focused on improving healthcare, this type of nursing also transitions well into higher education. Many universities use analysts to interpret data but when the program of focus is nursing, it makes sense to use a nursing-minded analyst to interpret the data. The main goal of a nurse informaticist is to transform data into needed information and leverage technology to improve outcomes (American Nurses Association, 2022). 

Nurses are taught to be aware of their surroundings and to continuously improve the outcomes of those around them. In a clinical setting, the focus is on the patient. When a nurse enters the realm of higher education, the focus shifts from the patient to the student. Evidence-based practice is integrated into every sector of nursing including those within higher-education. Dashboards are well-known in healthcare as they visualize patient-driven data and help nurses make decisions about patient care. Dashboards in higher education allow educators to make student-centered decisions.

The nurse informaticist can lead the development and implementation of a nursing-specific dashboard. In healthcare, the nurse informaticist leads in the capture, collection, and management of patient care and revenue data (Afia, n.d.). In higher education, the nurse informaticist can leverage data related to student enrollment and volumes to help determine revenue allocation. This in turn would play a role in the acquisition and dissemination of programmatic resources. Though not directly involved in decision-making, the nurse informaticist would be the key to appropriate data visualization, interpretation, and analysis steering stakeholders to certain outcomes.

Nurse informaticists are adept at flexing their leadership styles to meet the needs of those around them. As transformational leaders, they can clearly articulate and visualize a vision while motivating others’ systems thinking and change management style (Tyler, 2019). When the need requires the creation and maintenance of relationships, the nurse informaticist can become a servant leader and utilize their assessment skills to research and analyze the problem (Tyler, 2019). When change is imminent, the nurse informaticist adopts a transactional leadership style to identify goals and communicate with the staff to ensure compliance (Tyler, 2019).

Nurse informaticists can be viewed as a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) practitioner in the realm of academic nursing. Fields, et al. (2022) posited, “While guided by an institutional vision, the work of DEI practitioners is collaborative in nature and requires an awareness of the broader DEI implementation landscape; this is true both within the discipline of nursing and across higher education and healthcare sectors” (para. 19). The nurse informaticist’s ability to think like a nurse, analyze like an analyst, and lead change like a DEI practitioner makes them a vital part of the project and leadership team in clinical and academic settings alike.

Nurses provide a unique perspective on data interpretation and actions related to data analysis. In a clinical setting, nurses use information to make evidence-based patient care decisions and embrace technology to improve patient care. In higher education, pre-licensure nurse educators utilize technology to build relationships and educate students as they help prepare for the National Council Licensure Examination, commonly referred to as the NCLEX.

In higher education, the use of a nursing-focused analyst could lead to new insights, perspectives, and initiatives for nursing programs aimed at expanding programmatic outreach and enhancing student success. This type of informaticist could aid in providing a clearer image of the student population, progression of the program, and alignment to clinical practice with their unique ability to analyze data from a nursing perspective and provide business insight. Though the higher education nurse informaticist would not be involved directly in the decision-making process of the organization they would be an asset to the leadership team.

To promote optimal student and programmatic outcomes, nurses in higher education need to be well-versed in informatics. Though nurse informaticists are commonly used to enhance bedside nursing, there is a substantive role that they can play outside of the clinical role. In fact, informatics in nursing is becoming embedded within pre-licensure nursing programs to enhance student technology literacy and use of health systems before going into practice (Harerimana et al., 2022). This further enhances the need for nursing faculty to be educated in informatics. This would provide them with the perspective of nursing combined with informatics and business making them one of the best assets to any nursing program.


  1. Afia. (n.d.). Understanding the healthcare practice revenue cycle. Retrieved from
  2. American Nurses Association. (2022). Nursing informatics: Scope and standards of practice (3rd ed.). Retrieved from
  3. Fields, S. D., Wharton, M.J ., Ackerman-Barger, K., Lewis, L. M., Beard, K. V. (2022). The rise of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practitioners in academic nursing. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 27(1), manuscript 3.
  4. Gottlieb, L. N., Gottlieb, B., & Bitzas, V. (2021). Creating empowering conditions for nurses with workplace autonomy and agency: How healthcare leaders could be guided by strengths-based nursing and healthcare leadership (SBNH-L). Journal of healthcare leadership, 13, 169–181.
  5. Harerimana, A., Wicking, K., Biedermann, N., & Yates, K. (2022). Nursing informatics in undergraduate nursing education in Australia before COVID-19: A scoping review. Collegian (Royal College of Nursing, Australia), 29(4), 527–539.
  6. Tyler, D. D. (2019). A day in the life of a nurse informaticist: Organizational change. Journal of Informatics Nursing, 4(2), 18-20.