Nursing Informatics: A Nurse Leader as a Knowledge Worker

The Concept of a Knowledge Worker

Knowledge workers are employees who use their knowledge as their main asset in the workplace. Peter Drucker was a famous Australian management consultant who coined the term in the middle of the 20th century. According to Drucker (1959), knowledge and power are the “means to a higher end of men” (p. 267). Relying on his experience, observations, and research, the author contributed to a better understanding of the worker’s skills and qualities. It is not enough for a knowledge worker to be an expert in the field. This concept implies an employee who combines theoretical and analytical knowledge, training, and service development. Knowledge workers are high-level workers who should constantly invest in their knowledge through pluralistic and autonomous education and new strategies (Drucker, 1959). They acquire and apply information, enhance their awareness in the chosen field, and complete various tasks. Creativity, motivation, and positive manipulation are the characteristics of knowledge workers, regardless of the area of practice.

Nursing Informatics Definition

The concept of a knowledge worker is closely related to such processes as data gathering, storing, and management. In health care, the field of nursing informatics (NI) involves similar tasks. According to McGonigle and Mastrian (2017), NI integrates “nursing science, computer science, and information science to manage and communicate data, information, knowledge, and wisdom in nursing practice” (p. 141). This science contains a number of tasks, and its complexity distracts some people and motivates other individuals. Information life-cycle management and real-time healthcare systems are the main NI components (Collins et al., 2017). As a result, it is correct to define NI as “a product of the scientific synthesis of information in nursing” (McGonigle & Mastrian, 2017, p. 2). It is hard to identify one group of people who should work in this sphere because their work is based on understanding cognitive sciences, information, and technology.

Nursing Informatics Explanation

NI plays an important role in the promotion of today’s healthcare services. It is expected from every single worker to understand and identify the sources of information and use knowledge and wisdom for management and communication. As well as in any field in NI, people should obtain qualifications, develop their skills, and understand medical and health care strategies. Depending on the chosen jobs (specialist, clinician, or informaticist), employees are responsible for researching, developing, and implementing new technologies in the field. In most cases, nurses have to possess certain technical skills in order to manage equipment, perform different procedures, and never forget about their interpersonal skills that allow interacting with people (McGonigle & Mastrian, 2017). NI is not only about information but about people who are influenced by changes provoked by data they find. Ethical application of data is necessary because individuals rely on NI to restore their health, disseminate knowledge, and predict the development of more serious problems.

A Nurse Leader as a Knowledge Worker

Nurse leaders may be easily defined as knowledge workers due to the quality and amount of work they perform. First, they have to gather and analyze information to identify the most effective strategies and models for their workplace. Second, they must guide other people, which requires some guarantees and responsibilities. Solid leadership and vision are critical for safe and cost-effective performance (McGonigle & Mastrian, 2017). In fact, there are many coincidences that prove how a nurse leader becomes a knowledge worker, like the implementation of critical thinking, promotion of education, problem-solving, and decision-making. These roles may be performed separately or altogether, depending on the organization and its scope of work. Finally, leaders in nursing work not only with their colleagues and people who have the same level of knowledge but also with patients who might need additional support and explanations.

Visual Representation

Nurse leaders have to be knowledge workers and complete the following roles:

  1. To communicate and be in touch with nurses and other care providers.
  2. To use recent technologies and devices to stay connected with people without organizational problems.
  3. To help patients and complete main nursing tasks within the chosen care environment in urgent cases.
  4. To work with various volumes of data, store information, and apply knowledge when necessary.
  5. To research and share findings that may affect nursing practice, improve the quality of care, and contribute to the recovery.
  6. To be open to change, distant work, and transformations and help other employees accept and follow these requirements.

Hypothetical Scenario: Data Examination

The hypothetical scenario contains a number of important facts about NI and the role of nurse leaders as knowledge workers. The integration of information technology is hardly possible without stakeholders’ assistance and participation (McGonigle & Mastrian, 2017). NI is represented as a mix of innovation and information, which results in something new and effective for particular nursing practice. The examination of data from the scenario proves that nurses are not the only sources of information. The role of service consumers, patients, other members of a healthcare team, and potential stakeholders (technicians, pharmacists, drivers, etc.) is also remarkable. This scenario mentions veteran affairs as the area of work, which allows observing specific NI examples. Clinical procedure flowsheets help organize and utilize patient data quickly, reducing medical errors (Department of Veteran Affairs, 2011). This model makes it possible to learn, change, and use patient data about vital signs, respiratory data, inputs, or outputs during a treatment process. Nurse leaders become knowledge workers because they work with patients and nurses who perform different roles and rely on their knowledge. The balance between technology and knowledge is the responsibility of leaders.

Hypothetical Scenario: Knowledge

From the data mentioned in the hypothetical scenario, one can easily promote a better understanding of NI and the role of nurse leaders as knowledge workers. Flowsheets that nurses use in their work with veterans contain much knowledge about recent clinical practices, treatment plans, and deadlines that should be taken into consideration (Department of Veteran Affairs, 2011). Nurse leaders do not directly develop programs, but their information is integral to the healing process. Their knowledge is the asset that determines the quality of care and cooperation between nurses, healthcare workers, patients, and their families. NI is a field where nurses perform their direct obligations and exchange the necessary facts about patients, who, in their turn, are primary sources of information. Knowledge may be informed in different ways, and if data is collected and stored online or on special devices, nurses should be ready to work with different tools.


Nursing informatics is a science that combines scientific achievements, information, and personal skills. The goals of informatics are communication, integration, experience exchange, and data sharing. Knowledge workers have to work in the field of nursing informatics.

Nurse leaders can be knowledge workers because of their skills, responsibilities, and impact. Nurse leaders, as well as knowledge workers, promote continuous training, education, mutual support, and innovation. Knowledge may be shared by a variety of means, and clinical procedure flowsheets may help nurses store and change information about patients.


Collins, S., Yen, P.-Y., Phillips, A., & Kennedy, M. K. (2017). Nursing informatics competency assessment for the nurse leader: The Delphi study. The Journal of Nursing Administration, 47(4), 212–218. Web.

Department of Veteran Affairs. (2011). Clinical procedures (CP) V1.0 flowsheets module user manual. Web.

Drucker, P. (1959). The landmarks of tomorrow. HarperCollins Publishers.

McGonigle, D., & Mastrian, K. G. (2017). Nursing informatics and the foundation of knowledge (4th ed.). Jones & Bartlett Learning.

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