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Informatics Competencies for Every Practicing Nurse

Core competencies are the skills an employee is required to have to perform their job effectively. This concept is universal among many different fields of work. However, having specific competencies is especially prioritized in the medical field. Even different types of nurses require different core competencies. This paper will compare and contrast the core competencies of Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Informatists.

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Core Competencies of a Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners belong to the direct care provider category of roles. Their core competencies are divided into nine separate areas of competence. These areas include scientific foundation competencies, leadership competencies, quality competencies, practice inquiry competencies, technology and information literacy competencies, policy competencies, health delivery system competencies, ethics competencies, and independent practice competencies. It would be useful to briefly describe these competencies in order to compare them to the competencies of the nurse informaticists (NP Core Competencies Content Work Group, 2014).

Scientific foundation competencies reflect the requirement of the NP to know how to use and create new scientific knowledge. It includes critical analysis of data, integration of scientific knowledge, and development of new practice approaches. Leadership competencies focus on the managerial skills of the practitioner. They are centered on facilitation of change within the workplace, communication, critical thinking, and improvement of efficiency in the field of healthcare.

Quality competencies allow the NP to both evaluate the information about relationships and structure that can be improved, as well as using scientific knowledge to create quality improvements. Practice inquiry competencies are also dedicated to knowledge gathering, and on putting this knowledge into practice. They consist of the ability to lead the translation of knowledge into practice, knowledge generation, use of investigative skills to improve health outcomes, practice inquiry, dissemination of evidence to diverse audiences, and analysis of clinical guidelines for implementation into practice (NP Core Competencies Content Work Group, 2014).

Technology and information literacy competencies require the NP to understand the technologies used in practice. The five competencies include integration of technologies, translation of technical and scientific information, information literacy skills in complex decision-making, contribution to system design, and the use of technology systems. Policy competencies are used in all cases revolved around legal and policy fields of expertise. They consist of understanding of separation of policy and practice, advocacy for ethical policies, analysis of various policy factors, contribution to the development of policy, analysis of policy implications, and evaluation of the impact of globalization on health care policy (NP Core Competencies Content Work Group, 2014).

Health delivery system competencies also test the managerial qualities of the NP. They are also responsible for analysis of structure and creation of systems, but with an emphasis on providing the best care to the patients, as well as other aspects related to the health of the patients. As the title suggests Ethics, competencies are focused on ethics of the NP. They show the ability of the NP to make ethical decisions, evaluate ethical consequences, and apply ethical solutions in their work. The last area of competencies demonstrates the independent ability of the NP. This area includes the ability of the NP to function as a licensed independent practitioner, their accountability for professional practice, their independent management of patients, and the ability to provide patient-centered care (NP Core Competencies Content Work Group, 2014).

Core Competencies of a Nurse Informaticist and How They Compare

In contrast to the singular list of NP competencies, NI competencies are separated into three components: basic computer competencies, information literacy, and information management. These competencies are sourced from four different organizations. Unlike the broad spectrum of abilities required from the NP, NI is focused on computer and information competencies. These aspects are similar to the technology and information competencies of the NP. However, the NI competencies are much more specific in comparison to NP (Troseth, 2012).

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The first category involves basic computer knowledge and is based on the ECDL certification requirements. ECDL consists of seven basic modules that provide all the fundamental skills of computer use. These involve both ICT theory and practice of using the basic office suite as well as internet use. Although the NP list does not go into specifics, it would not be hard to guess that these skills are required for both roles. Information literacy competencies are sourced from the American Library Association. Information literacy competencies include the ability to determine the nature and extent of needed information, ability to access this information, its evaluation, the use of this information, and evaluation of the outcome. Similarly to the basic computer competencies, this component is echoed by the competencies presented in the NP list (Troseth, 2012).

The last component of the TIGER Nursing Informatics competencies model is sourced from Health Level Seven and the European Computer Driving License Foundation. This area is perhaps the most important for the NI as it directly affects the medical decision-making of the practitioner. At its core, it consists of three abilities: collection, processing, and presentation of data. However, it consists of two separate sets of compliances that detail every ability of and type of decision that NI is supposed to make (Troseth, 2012).

In general, despite some shared compliances, the NI list describes a highly specialized set of abilities, much more so than the NP list. These abilities range from the most basic use of computer interfaces to the management of complex electronic information and facilitation of communications (Troseth, 2012).


These two roles differ in their implementation. Due to the extensive sourcing in the TIGER Nursing Informatics Competencies List, the process of implementation is relatively simple. It outlines various courses and self-examination tools that can be used to achieve these competencies. Besides the four primary sources that serve as the base for the competency list, TIGER outlines many additional ways of implementation such as “The Quality Safety Education for Nurses” project which allows the development of knowledge, skills and attitudes required to improve the healthcare systems that NIs use (Coleman, Kelley, Tyler, & Tupper, 2014).

In contrast, NP implementation requires more steps and can differ from situation to situation. A research paper on this topic suggests that there are five major aspects of NP implementation: development of guidelines, collaboration with the multidisciplinary team, development of legitimacy and clinical credibility, and transitioning to practice. Different nurses focus on different aspects, but most experience multiple aspects during their implementation. Another major difference lies in the communicative nature of NP implementation. Most of the nurses found that they required communication with senior team members to become fully implemented as an NP. The struggle for legitimacy was also common among the research group. Work of an NP is often a team effort which also highlights the communicative nature of implementation (Desborough, 2012).


The core competencies of these direct and indirect roles are similar, but hold differences in specificity of actions. However, many of the NI competencies are present in the NP list. Their implementation is much more different, however, with NP being a much more communicative process.


Coleman, A., Kelley, W., Tyler, D., & Tupper, S. (2014). Informatics competencies for every practicing nurse: Recommendations from the TIGER collaborative. Chicago, IL: The TIGER Initiative.

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Desborough, J. (2012). How nurse practitioners implement their roles. Australian Health Review, 36(1), 22.

NP Core Competencies Content Work Group. (2014). Nurse practitioner core competencies content. Washington, DC: The National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties.

Troseth, M. (2012). QSEN nursing informatics deep dive. San Francisco, CA: Elsevier Clinical Decision Support and CPM Resource Center.

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