In this paper, the core competencies of a nursing practitioner (adult-gerontology NP) and a nurse informaticist will be compared and contrasted.
Depending on the competencies model, nursing informaticists can have different core competencies, but they frequently consist of these three parts: basic computer competencies, information literacy, and information management (Troseth, 2012). At the same time, nurse practitioners’ core competencies include health promotion, health protection, communication with patients, teaching-coaching, enhancing direct care, managing healthcare delivery systems, and monitoring and ensuring the quality of practice (AACN, 2012). While the role of a nurse informaticist implies a deeper understanding of digital technologies and better information literacy, the core practices of a nurse practitioner mostly focus on providing healthcare services, educating patients, and engaging leadership skills. However, both care providers engage technology to provide research, assess the quality of care, and manage information (AACN, 2012; Troseth, 2012). Nurse informaticists are expected to have the overarching competency to support information synthesis, while nurse practitioners use these technologies to improve health care, make complex decisions, educate patients and personnel, or evaluate nursing care (AACN, 2012; CASN, n.d.). Nurse informaticists have to use ICTs according to the workplace policies and standards; the same rule applies to nurse practitioners, who, however, can learn about a particular technology from a nurse informaticist if needed (AACN, 2012; CASN, n.d.).
Unlike nurse practitioners, nurse informaticists need to know how to identify and report functional issues and system processes according to the organizational policies (CASN, n.d.). Furthermore, nurse informaticists also need to maintain efficient nursing practice even if there is system unavailability using organizational policies (CASN, n.d.). Nurse practitioners are expected to apply scientific evidence to assess their own practice and engage in peer review (AACN, 2012). At the same time, both providers are expected to use technology as a method of safe care and to monitor health outcomes (AACN, 2012; CASN, n.d.). Another similarity includes the providers’ ability to use technology to provide informed decisions and coach patients, although the latter is more relevant for nurse practitioners (Gonçalves, Wolff, Staggers, Peres, 2012).
To implement the core competencies, nurse informaticists use various information and communication technologies, such as telehomecare, EHR, EMR, fetal heart monitoring devices, etc. (CASN, n.d.). At the same time, nurse practitioners also use the same technologies to provide efficient and cost-effective health care, but they may not be as advanced in using some of these technologies as nurse informaticists (AACN, 2012).
Use of computers is expected from both providers, although nurse informaticists also engage social networks or other websites linked to communication to implement their core competencies. Nurse practitioners are not always expected to use communication technologies, although some of these can be used either for scientific research (gathering data) or communication with patients (e-mails or social networks) (CASN, n.d.). Unlike nurse practitioners, nurse informaticists can describe “the processes of data gathering, recording and retrieval, in hybrid or homogenous health records” (CASN, n.d., p. 6). Both providers use support tools such as online clinical guidelines, clinical alerts, reminders, for patient care; nevertheless, nurse practitioners use these to provide health care, while nurse informaticists assist patient safety with such tools (CASN, n.d.). It should be noted that while nurse practitioners use technology as a support to implement core competencies such as assessment and diagnosis of health status, nurse informaticists’ fully focus on technologies as their primary target in clinical practice. While nurse practitioners engage technology to provide evidence-based care for treatment, nurse informaticists design or work on the systems that can assist effective health care or make it more cost effective and safe (CASN, n.d.). At the same time, both providers use technology “to communicate [and] manage knowledge” (AACN, 2012, p. 19). There is another similarity in the implementation of core competencies: the knowledge and research are translated into practice to improve practice outcomes (AACN, 2012). Nevertheless, this activity can have different targets: nurse practitioners might be focused on treatment, while nurse informaticists can take informational systems into consideration.
During their practice, nurse informaticists often engage word processing and presentation software to support research activities; the level of computer literacy constantly advances until mastered because it is crucial for providing services in nursing informatics (such as data recording and gathering) (CASN, n.d.). The implementation of leadership techniques is also important: nurse practitioners use it to address issues and topics in clinical nursing practice and nurse-patient or employee-employee relationships, while nurse informaticists engage leadership in influencing the attitude of medical personnel to the role of informational technologies and computer use in nursing practice. Nurse informaticists can also use leadership to help other employees use and “navigate the electronic health record” (Troseth, 2012). Nurse practitioners’ primary aim is to provide effective, cost-efficient, evidence-based treatment via critical analysis and complex decision making. Nurse informaticists engage technology to implement different administrative practices such as discharge and admission, navigation of patients’ histories, tracking of patients if needed, etc. Thus, nurse practitioners are primarily focused on patients, treatment, and research, and use technology as support, while nurse informaticists engage technology to support treatment and improve healthcare.
AACN. (2012). Adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner competencies. Web.