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Transitioning from nursing to data science sounds like a complete 180, but there are some surprising commonalities between these career paths. If you’re looking to continue a career in healthcare, without the physically demanding work nursing requires, a career in data science might be a great bet. Here are some things to consider as you explore a career change from nurse to data scientist, including skills you already have that can help you succeed.

Why data science?

Data scientists ensure data is clean and accurate, write algorithms, and create data visualizations and narratives. Data science requires skills in statistical software, programming languages like Python or R, and data visualization tools.

Healthcare organizations have more data than ever before, but that data can’t help patients or healthcare professionals without data science professionals to make sense of it. A background in nursing, combined with new skills in programming and math, can launch a new career in nursing informatics (if you’re an RN), healthcare informatics, or healthcare data analysis.

In fact, the keynote address at the American Nursing Informatics Association 2019 conference, argued that “there is a deep need to bridge the gap between nurses at the front lines and in non-clinical settings…to advance clinical data analytics in healthcare organizations.”

A career in data science has great career potentialIs Data Science a Good Career Choice in 2024?. Data science skills are in high demand: TripleTen data shows that the healthcare industry ranked second most-interested in hiring data scientists (IT/tech ranks first). 

Data science also pays wellWhat You Can Earn as an Entry-Level Data Scientist: according to Glassdoor, the average entry level salary for a data scientist is $98,901 a year in the US.

How long does it take to become a data scientist?

The great news is that you don’t need to go back to college to switch careers. Although many resources are available online for you to learn basic Python coding and analysis skills, a data science bootcamp can train you on the right skills at an accelerated pace. TripleTen’s data science bootcamp takes 8 months to complete, and grads have completed coursework even alongside a full time jobThe 6 Most Common Concerns About Tech Bootcamps

A bootcamp is also much cheaper than a college degree. The data science field is growing, so bootcamp grads can command salaries similar to college grads with computer science degrees. And your earning potential will go up as you gain skills and experience.

What are your odds of finding work in your new field? In TripleTen’s Outcomes Report, data shows that 50% of successful grads land jobs before even graduating. In addition, 24% of these grads land jobs within 1-3 months of graduation, and 26% land jobs within 4-6 months of graduation. 

Having a background in nursing can be especially valuable if you’re applying to jobs in insurance, pharmaceutical companies, or health care supply and logistics companies.

Nursing skills that overlap with data scientist skills

Although the two career pathways may seem quite different, nurses and data scientists both need similar core skills.

Here are the top nursing skills that translate well into a data science career:

  1. Analytical mindset: Both nurses and data scientists need to interpret data effectively. Nurses analyze patient symptoms, vital signs, and medical history to create treatment plans. Data scientists look at large data sets to identify trends and patterns, gain insights, and train machine learning algorithms.
  2. Communication: Nurses need to communicate clearly and empathetically with patients and other healthcare professionals. They often have to translate medical concepts into simpler language to reassure patients and gain trust. Similarly, data scientists must effectively convey their findings, translating complex technical concepts into insights that team members and company leaders can understand.
  3. Critical thinking: Both nursing and data science require thinking beyond the surface information in order to uncover cause and effect and to figure out next steps. And both professions use data to make informed decisions. While nurses do this case by case with patients, data scientists assess large data sets to uncover trends.
  4. Attention to detail: Both career paths require accuracy and precision. While data scientists aren’t administering medications or checking vitals, they do need to clean, analyze, and validate data to make sure it’s reliable and usable.
  5. Adaptability: Both healthcare and data are constantly evolving, requiring nurses and data scientists to learn new skills quickly. Whether you explore new medical technologies or emerging data exploration techniques, being adaptable is a valuable skill in both professions.
  6. Ethical conduct: Nurses have to follow ethical and legal guidelines when it comes to protecting patient information. Likewise, data scientists must consider ethical implications, as well: they have to maintain data privacy and use data responsibly.

Career paths that combine data science and nursing skills

Although you can work in any industry after gaining data science skills, here are some career pathways that combine healthcare knowledge with data science: 

Nursing informatics (where job titles include Nursing Informatics Specialist or Clinical Informatics Nurse) is a great career pathway if you are an RN or BSN. This field leverages technology and data to improve healthcare delivery and patient outcomes.

Healthcare data analytics focuses on finding insights in big data from clinical settings, operational systems (like staff scheduling in hospitals), insurance companies, or other health-related datasets.

Health informatics (where job titles include Health Informatics Specialist and Clinical Informatics Analyst) is a broad field that combines data and healthcare, whether in clinical settings, research, or public health. Its focus is on applying insights from big data by implementing processes and systems that improve healthcare delivery.

Jenn’s story: unlocking the potential in health data

Jenn FoskettTripleTen grad Jenn Foskett talks career enhancement worked as an admin professional in healthcare information management, and was often frustrated with how much data was collected, but never used. With her particular expertise in health data, Jenn knew that many of the vendors providing automated data analysis were missing the mark. 

"They don't really employ people who know what purposes the data has been collected for. [...] I wanted to do something different. I wanted to understand the trends in the data to create insights into what hospitals need to do differently, like what talks they need to have with the insurance companies,” she said.

She could see a way to put data to work, but she needed a bootcamp to get the right skills. So she studied 15 to 20 hours a week, on nights and weekends, for six months to complete the TripleTen Data Science Bootcamp. Some of that time was spent re-reviewing the ideas she didn't understand and asking for help when she felt stuck. 

While there, she honed her soft skills, which ended up being crucial: "Being able to ask specific questions of your employer, of what they want the data to tell, it's gonna be really helpful."

You can know the tech side and know how the program works, but if you can't communicate that to an audience that's not tech-focused, it's pointless. Jenn Foskett, TripleTen grad

Merging nursing skills and tech know-how

Many healthcare professionals switch careers and go on to succeed in non-clinical rolesFrom Nursing to Coding: How to Transition from Healthcare to Tech. Nurses are already well acquainted with health data, and how critical it is to log, track and analyze it. And nurses are adept at learning technical skills, from electronic health records (EHR) systems, to medical devices and healthcare software. If you’re curious about exploring a career switch from nursing to data science, take this self-assessment quiz to see if a bootcamp is right for you.

Is a bootcamp right for you?

Discover your ideal path to tech by taking our quiz.

Take the quiz

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