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Why I’m a computer nurse: Nursing Informatics 101

May 11, 2017

I applied for the graduate program in informatics at the University of Minnesota in 2010, before I even really knew what informatics was. This National Nurses Week, I celebrate that decision by sharing my application essay with you. Every word still rings true:

My career objectives are tied closely to my past work experiences. I started my career in healthcare as a volunteer at a nursing home and became a certified nursing assistant as soon as I turned sixteen. I worked as a nursing assistant and in the hospitality industry through college. After graduating from the University of Minnesota, School of Nursing in 2000, I served in the Army Nurse Corps for five years. Most recently, I am working at a small hospital, just outside the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area.

I have worked in long term care, inpatient hospital, outpatient hospital and clinic settings. I’ve been exposed to the fields of public health and long term rehabilitation. I’ve worked in large teaching organizations and small rural hospitals. In my work experience I’ve scrubbed floors, given bed baths, comforted the grieving, acted quickly in emergencies, set up new services, and led staff through change. This varied background gives me a broad understanding of the healthcare field. I know how hard it can be to work as a direct care provider.

I believe that I can enact change. I want to study the field of informatics because I have the background and the skills to bridge the gap between the caregiver and the programmer.

In my experience, I have seen that information capture needs to be simplified at the point of care. Adequate support processes and education must be in place to create a culture of compliance. I can help make the data capture processes easier for caregivers or completely automate them. This step will improve the quality of data collected. When information is gathered universally, it can be better incorporated to improve quality of healthcare.

This leads to my other interest in informatics: the use of databases to advance evidence based practice guidelines and improve patient outcomes. Average caregivers need easy access to best practice information. Guidelines should be based on scientific evidence and well developed studies that have large sample sizes. The data becoming available through healthcare information systems can help us gain insight into multi-factorial issues. The increasing government regulation of healthcare has created the need for documentation to show providers how to improve outcomes; their payment depends on it. The study of informatics will help me to impact the quality of healthcare by improving evidence based practice.

I plan to use the rest of my GI Bill benefits to earn a PhD in Healthcare Informatics. I will continue to work full time in my current position while commuting to evening classes or taking classes online. I plan to develop my understanding of informatics by studying statistics, programming, and systems analysis. I will be a great asset to the program by bringing my varied healthcare experiences to the table to share with those who lack this background.

The things that I learn will be immediately applicable to my current position. My organization will be implementing and updating our information systems in the near future. [Completed!] My mid-range goal is to work for a company that develops healthcare software. [Achieved!] With this degree, I will be fully qualified to help increase the functionality of the programs for the end users: those who input information and those who analyze the data to improve care. I am excited to be earning my PhD, because I love to teach and may use my credentials to teach at the college level in the future.

If you would like to learn more about informatics, I strongly encourage you to celebrate the week by attending these introductory sessions:

Nursing Informatics 101: Encompassing the Value of Nursing Informatics through the Past, Present, and Future l May 9

The Evolution of Technology Informatics Guiding Education Reform: The TIGER Initiative l May 12

Happy Nurses Week!

Beth Meyers, RN, BSN, MS, CNOR Industry Strategy Director for Healthcare Analytics
  • Healthcare
  • EMEA
  • North America
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