Skip to content Skip to Live Chat

HEALTHCARE CAREER GUIDES

Nurse Abstractor Career

OVERVIEW

What is a Nurse Abstractor?


 

An abstractor is a person who summarizes or abstracts information from patient files key data and passes it on to the doctors or nurses. Their job is to digitize and work with patient records, analyzing them for trends that can improve the standard of care and diagnostics, while staying ahead of the latest advances in medical technology.

This role provides actionable information to doctors, nurses, and all those who work in a healthcare setting. Your job leads directly to improved quality of care, a better patient experience, and increased savings for the healthcare administrative departments.

RESPONSIBILITIES

What Does a Nurse Abstractor Do?

What exactly does a nurse abstractor do on an average day? Here are just some of the tasks that you might be asked to perform:

  • Abstracting and reviewing patient data. A nurse abstractor’s main job is to analyze patient files, abstract the relevant information from them, and enter those details wherever necessary. These days, you’ll probably be working with healthcare software, so a familiarity with these types of programs and being comfortable working at a computer is a must.
  • Ensuring ease of access. Getting vital patient information to the people who need it most is a key part of your job. You’ll have to liaison with other office members and healthcare staff in your place of work to make sure that there are no problems with data access. You’ll also be overseeing procedures to ensure ease of access.
  • Analyzing and understanding information. Medical staff are often working in high-pressure environments and need access to pertinent patient information quickly and easily. There is no margin for delays or errors. With that in mind, you might be asked to design and create programs to help healthcare providers understand the statistics and data that you’re working with and access them promptly.

EDUCATION & BEST DEGREES

How Do I Become a Nurse Abstractor?

Step One: Become a Registered Nurse and Earn a Degree

Becoming a registered nurse (RN) would be highly beneficial for this kind of role, giving you the medical knowledge and skills necessary to thrive as an abstractor. You may be able to become a registered nurse through a prelicensure degree, or if you already have a nursing diploma or associate degree in nursing, an RN-to-BSN degree program could help you enhance your credentials quickly and be more prepared for this kind of career. 

Similarly, a master’s degree in nursing can be key in helping you move forward into this kind of role. An MSN focused on leadership and management can help you step into a nurse abstractor role by giving you a broader understanding of management, communication, and the business side of healthcare. For those who have earned their master's degree, a post-master's certificate in nursing leadership & management can be beneficial.

Step Two: Gain Work Experience

You need around three years of work experience before you can get certified as a nurse abstractor. Healthcare software, medical economics, and medical office administration are the key areas you need to gain experience in during this time, so a job in a healthcare setting is a must. Consider applying for jobs at hospitals and care centers to fulfill this requirement. 

Step Three: Certification

To receive certification as a Certified Health Data Analyst (CHDA), you can take an exam offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). It consists of around 130 to 160 questions that are to be completed in three and a half hours. The test covers topics such as:

  • Data management
  • Business needs assessment
  • Analytics and interpretation
  • Data acquisition

This test is computer-based. According to the AHIMA, this certificate recognizes those who are experts in health data and analysis. It provides the knowledge required to manage and interpret this information, while not losing track of the “big picture” in your work environment.

Once you’ve successfully earned this certificate, you’ll be ready to enter the workplace as a fully-fledged nurse abstractor.

Best Degrees for a Nurse Abstractor

Nursing (Prelicensure) – B.S.

A one-of-a-kind nursing program that prepares you to be an RN and a...

A one-of-a-kind nursing program that prepares you to be an RN and a baccalaureate-prepared nurse:

  • Locations: Due to in-person clinical requirements, students must be full time residents of FL, GA, ID, IN, IA, KS, KY, NE, NV, NM, NC, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, UT to enroll in this program. The coursework in this program is offered online, but there are in-person requirements.
  • Tuition: $6,430 per 6-month term for the first 4 terms of pre-nursing coursework and $8,755 per 6-month term for the remaining 4 terms of clinical nursing coursework.
  • Time: This program has a set pace and an expected completion time of 4 years. Certain coursework may be accelerated to finish faster.
  • WGU offers the prelicensure program in areas where we have partnerships with healthcare employers to provide practice sites and clinical coaches to help teach you and inspire you on your path to becoming a nurse.
  • If you don't live in one of our prelicensure states or don't qualify to apply, consider getting our Bachelor's in Health and Human Services instead. This degree allows you to work inside the healthcare industry, while also working directly with patients who need help.

Nursing (RN-to-BSN Online) – B.S.

An online BSN degree program for registered nurses (RNs) seeking the added...

An online BSN degree program for registered nurses (RNs) seeking the added theoretical depth, employability, and respect that a bachelor's degree brings:

  • Time: 77% of graduates finish within 24 months.
  • Tuition: $4,685 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 23 total courses in this program.
  • Transfers: Students can transfer up to 90 credits.

With over 35,000 BSN alumni, this is one of WGU's most popular online degree programs. View our RN to BSN degree guide. If you are an RN ready to earn your BSN, this program will help you accelerate to earn your degree.

If you don't currently have an RN and don't qualify for your nursing prelicensure program, consider getting our Bachelor's in Health and Human Services instead. This degree allows you to work inside the healthcare industry in a unique way.

Nursing – Leadership & Management (RN-to-MSN) – M.S.

This program for RNs includes a BSN component and is a substantial leap...

This program for RNs includes a BSN component and is a substantial leap toward becoming a nurse leader.

  • Time: 75% of RN-to-MSN grads finish within 42 months.
  • Tuition: $4,685 per 6-month term during undergraduate portion and $4,795 per 6-month term during graduate portion.
  • Courses: 32 total courses in this program.

Some careers and jobs this degree will prepare you for:

  • Director of Nursing
  • Chief Nursing Officer
  • Quality Director
  • Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Project Manager

If you're driven to lead, this online nursing degree will provide you everything needed to make that career a reality. This program is ideal for current RNs who are interested in earning both their BSn and MSN in an accelerated program.

Compare degrees

This program is not the only degree WGU offers designed to create leaders in the field of healthcare. Compare our health leadership degrees.

Nursing – Leadership & Management (BSN-to-MSN) – M.S.

For registered nurses with a bachelor's degree who are ready for...

For registered nurses with a bachelor's degree who are ready for additional career opportunities.

  • Time: 68% of grads finish within 24 months.
  • Tuition: $4,795 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 15 total courses in this program.

This program is ideal for current RNs who have a BSN and are ready for the next step in their education.

Sample careers and jobs this degree program will prepare you for:

  • Director of Nursing
  • Chief Nursing Officer
  • Quality Director
  • Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Project Manager

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of medical and health services managers to grow 17% by 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Compare degrees

This program is not the only degree WGU offers designed to create leaders in the field of healthcare. Compare our health leadership degrees.

Nursing Leadership and Management – Post-Master's Certificate

A certificate for registered nurses with a master's degree in nursing who...

A certificate for registered nurses with a master's degree in nursing who are ready for greater responsibility in a leadership and management role.

  • Time: 12 months.
  • Tuition: $4,795 per 6-month term. The cost to sit for the NAHQ Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ) exam is included in tuition.
  • Courses: 8 total courses in this program.

Sample careers and jobs this degree program will prepare you for:

  • Director of Nursing
  • Chief Nursing Officer
  • Quality Director
  • Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Project Manager

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of medical and health services managers to grow 17% by 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.

How Much Does a Nurse Abstractor Make?

$121,000

According to Glassdoor, a registered nurse abstractor can expect to earn a yearly salary of around $121,000. Those on the high end of the scale will pull in about $146,000, and your salary will largely depend on your education level. 

What Is the Projected Job Growth?

6%

While specific data for a nurse abstractor is absent from the Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS), the statistics for registered nurses are very healthy. The BLS anticipates a 6% growth between the 2022 to 2032 period alone.
 

SKILLS

What Skills Does a Nurse Abstractor Need?

A nurse abstractor needs a wide variety of skills to be effective in their role. Here are just some of them listed below.

  • Project management skills
  • Analytical and problem-solving skills
  • A keen understanding of the healthcare system
  • Clear communication skills
  • Knowledge of medical practices and requirements
  • The ability to work as part of a team
  • Computer literate, especially in the latest healthcare software

Our Online University Degree Programs Start on the First of Every Month, All Year Long

No need to wait for spring or fall semester. It's back-to-school time at WGU year-round. Get started by talking to an Enrollment Counselor today, and you'll be on your way to realizing your dream of a bachelor's or master's degree—sooner than you might think!

Next Start Date
{{startdate}}

Interested in Becoming a Nurse Abstractor?

Learn more about degree programs that can prepare you for this meaningful career.