Yearb Med Inform 2016; 25(01): 264-271
DOI: 10.15265/IY-2016-039
IMIA and Schattauer GmbH
Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart

Nursing Informatics Certification Worldwide: History, Pathway, Roles, and Motivation

M. R. Cummins
1  University of Utah College of Nursing, Salt Lake City, UT, USA
2  University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT, USA
A. V. Gundlapalli
2  University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT, USA
3  VA Salt Lake City Health Care System, Salt Lake City, UT, USA
A. V. Gundlapalli
4  Utah County Academy of Sciences, Orem, UT, USA
5  University of Utah College of Engineering, Salt Lake City, UT, USA
P. Murray
6  International Medical Informatics Association, Geneva, CH
H.-A. Park
7  Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea
C. U. Lehmann
8  Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN, USA
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

10 November 2016

Publication Date:
06 March 2018 (online)


Introduction: Official recognition and certification for informatics professionals are essential aspects of workforce development. Objective: To describe the history, pathways, and nuances of certification in nursing informatics across the globe; compare and contrast those with board certification in clinical informatics for physicians.

Methods: (1) A review of the representative literature on informatics certification and related competencies for nurses and physicians, and relevant websites for nursing informatics associations and societies worldwide; (2) similarities and differences between certification processes for nurses and physicians, and (3) perspectives on roles for nursing informatics professionals in healthcare Results: The literature search for ‘nursing informatics certification’ yielded few results in PubMed; Google Scholar yielded a large number of citations that extended to magazines and other non-peer reviewed sources. Worldwide, there are several nursing informatics associations, societies, and workgroups dedicated to nursing informatics associated with medical/health informatics societies. A formal certification program for nursing informatics appears to be available only in the United States. This certification was established in 1992, in concert with the formation and definition of nursing informatics as a specialty practice of nursing by the American Nurses Association. Although informatics is inherently interprofessional, certification pathways for nurses and physicians have developed separately, following long-standing professional structures, training, and pathways aligned with clinical licensure and direct patient care. There is substantial similarity with regard to the skills and competencies required for nurses and physicians to obtain informatics certification in their respective fields. Nurses may apply for and complete a certification examination if they have experience in the field, regardless of formal training. Increasing numbers of informatics nurses are pursuing certification.

Conclusions: The pathway to certification is clear and well-established for U.S. based informatics nurses. The motivation for obtaining and maintaining nursing informatics certification appears to be stronger for nurses who do not have an advanced informatics degree. The primary difference between nursing and physician certification pathways relates to the requirement of formal training and level of informatics practice. Nurse informatics certification requires no formal education or training and verifies knowledge and skill at a more basic level. Physician informatics certification validates informatics knowledge and skill at a more advanced level; currently this requires documentation of practice and experience in clinical informatics and in the future will require successful completion of an accredited two-year fellowship in clinical informatics. For the profession of nursing, a graduate degree in nursing or biomedical informatics validates specialty knowledge at a level more comparable to the physician certification. As the field of informatics and its professional organization structures mature, a common certification pathway may be appropriate. Nurses, physicians, and other healthcare professionals with informatics training and certification are needed to contribute their expertise in clinical operations, teaching, research, and executive leadership.