Nurses have acquired much of their IT expertise through on-the-job training, but its growing pervasiveness will require a new level of knowledge. Computer literacy and informatics should be made an important component of the nursing curriculum at all levels.
Even though education in nursing informatics is still largely self-directed, interest has been so prolific that the formal designation of Informatics Nurse Specialist was recently approved by the American Nurses Association.
Furthering their education in nursing informatics will give nurses diversity and thus wider employment opportunities.
Clearly, IT proliferation in healthcare will increasingly challenge nurses to communicate, share and synthesize data. Nurses who can use computer hardware, software, terminology and operating systems will be able to harness the power and efficiency of computer systems in enhancing care delivery and shaping nursing practice.
The nation is at a tipping point in applying enabling technologies to healthcare. With the push coming from the federal government and all corners of the field, this is indeed a far-reaching revolution. The time has come for healthcare to leave the manual tools of the past in the past and turn to the enablers of the 21st century. The nursing profession is being transformed to meet the needs of the new world and will be a major player in the revolution.