CNIO position on the rise

Chief Nursing Information Officer (CNIO) is a fairly new title, but it is growing in popularity and more and more organizations are recruiting for the position, according to Linda Hodges, vice president and leader of information technology search practice at executive search firm Witt/Kieffer.

An increasing number of nurses are setting their sites specifically on attaining a CNIO position, Hodges told Healthcare IT News in an exclusive interview.

“This is something that has become a passion for many people who went into nursing but also love IT,” she said. “They can see how this role can impact care, especially with the evolving new role of accountable care organizations.”

“Nurses can see the need for an executive nurse focused on nursing needs and nursing practice, so that when health IT solutions are crafted for an organization, they will work for the nurses,” Hodges said.

[See related story: Be honest, do you really know your career goals?]

If the CNIO title follows the course of the CMIO title, it might take some time to become accepted. According to Hodges, the title of chief medical information officer was ten years in the making. It wasn’t readily accepted at first.

Currently, academic institutions and large integrated health systems are the main organizations hiring such a position. A CNIO at a large system can expect to make from $200,000 to $250,000 in base pay annually, she said.

Nurses pursuing this position need a master’s degree in nursing informatics and in some cases a Phd, Hodges said. There are a number of good schools offering highly regarded programs, including the University of Maryland, Vanderbilt and Duke.

“The education programs that exist in nursing informatics need to evolve," she said. "There is a lot of interest right now, and they are beginning to see traction in terms of more people.”

Hodges will be co-presenting a session titled “The Emerging Role of the Chief Nursing Information Officer: What is the Current State” at the Nursing Informatics Symposium at HIMSS12 on Feb. 20 in Las Vegas.

[See also: Let's get clinical.]

Follow Diana Manos on Twitter @DManos_IT_News.