(March 16, 2015) – Starting in the fall 2015 semester, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Nursing will launch a new nurse informatics option in its Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) degree program. It is the only program of its kind offered in Texas.

Nursing informatics is the specialty that integrates nursing science with multiple information and analytical sciences to identify, define, manage and communicate data, information, knowledge and wisdom in nursing practice. By improving information management and communications, providers can advance the health of individuals, families, communities and populations.

The D.N.P.-Nurse Informatics option is a new joint venture by the nursing school with the UTHealth School of Biomedical Informatics (SBMI). The eight-semester program incorporates nursing informatics courses taught by SBMI faculty members into traditional post-master’s nursing curriculum.

“The redesign and future of health care is directly linked to use of data to inform and support decision-making for high quality, safety and outstanding outcomes,” said D.N.P. Program Coordinator Joanne V. Hickey, Ph.D., R.N. “Nurses with advanced knowledge in informatics are needed to lead this healthcare redesign and to work collaboratively with other healthcare professionals.”

The new nurse informatics option includes a total 48 credit hours for students who already hold a master’s degree in nursing informatics. For a candidate who does not have a master’s degree in nursing informatics, an additional three-credit course for a total of 51 credits is required for completion.

Most courses are delivered online, requiring students to attend classes on campus only once a month on two consecutive days.

“D.N.P. students will have the opportunity to work in interprofessional teams as they attend courses with SBMI students from a variety of fields and disciplines,” said Associate Professor Juliana J. Brixey, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.N. “This mutual collaboration between UTHealth’s School of Nursing and School of Biomedical Informatics is an example of teamwork and maximizing faculty expertise.”

New career opportunities for DNP students –

Recent workforce surveys have pointed to a need among employers for health informatics specialists in positions such as system analyst, clinical data analyst, clinical informatics specialist, project coordinators and clinical documentation specialist.

“There is an unmet need for informatics nurses, not only in the Texas Medical Center, but across the country,” said Brixey, who holds a joint appointment at SBMI and the nursing school. “UTHealth offers students the unique opportunity to combine the best in D.N.P. education with the expertise of the faculty at the nation’s only free-standing school of informatics.”

“Nurse informaticists” also play a crucial role in the development, implementation and optimization of clinical applications, including nursing clinical documentation, computerized practitioner order entry and electronic medical/health records.

“Graduates will fill the gap for advanced nursing informatics in the state of Texas and beyond and be at the forefront of major change in healthcare delivery,” said Hickey. “This unique doctoral option also affords students the opportunity to find advancement in the field of nursing and move towards leadership and executive roles in healthcare organizations.”

Approval for the new degree program was received this month from The University of Texas System and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Applications are now being accepted for the first class of D.N.P.-Nurse Informatics students at UTHealth School of Nursing. To apply, visit: http://go.uth.edu/SONApplication.