Audio clip of interview with Gillian Strudwick RN PhD

How and why did you become interested in nursing informatics?

I became interested in nursing informatics before I knew what to call it. One summer during my undergraduate nursing program I had the opportunity to work at a factory supporting the occupational health nurse. During that summer I took every opportunity to explore the factory. I was amazed at the automation, the use of alerts and reminders, the use of robotics, and all the ‘checks and balances’ in place that aided in the production of safe food. That fall, when I went to my first medical-surgical clinical placement in a large academic teaching hospital, I was shocked at how there were no computers in the care station (or elsewhere that I was aware of). I was introduced to the paper kardex system, written orders, and paper-based medication administration process. I remember feeling shocked and worried that there were so many potential errors that could occur. As a student I remember thinking: ‘how do I read this writing?’, ‘how do I know all the orders on the kardex are accurate and up to date?’, ‘there are no reminders for me to complete important assessments or care?’ and, ‘if all this data is on paper, then I guess it cannot be combined to advance care’. It was not until years later when I completed a graduate course in nursing informatics that I was able to name what I had been thinking about when I was a student.

Describe what your current role involves

I am a Project Scientist with a health informatics focus at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto. This is the job title of junior level scientists at CAMH. I also teach in the Master of Health Informatics program at the University of Toronto. My role at CAMH entails conducting research, supporting organizational informatics projects that align with my area of research, and working with students.  One of the students I have worked with is just about to defend her master’s thesis, and it has been a rewarding experience being a part of the process.  As well, this summer I am excited to be able to work with our first ever advanced practice nurse intern with a focus on nursing informatics. I am currently in the midst of developing the learning plan for this role, and in doing so, I am reminded of how much there is to know in our field.

Which areas of nursing informatics do you find most interesting?

This is a difficult question as I am the type of person who becomes very passionate about whatever I am working on. Right now, I have three main interests that are related to the research that I am currently pursuing. The first interest is the role that nurse leaders play within informatics, and what competencies they require to do so effectively. My second interest is in how standardized data pulled from an electronic health record can be used to identify which outcomes that mental health nurses can have the biggest impact. A final interest is identifying how patient portals can be effectively used in mental health contexts.  There are many other interesting areas of informatics that I would love to learn more about in the future.

What advice do you have for others who are interested in nursing informatics?

Join us! And by that, I mean join and attend the CNIA events, as well as your local association/interest group. In Ontario, there is ONIG (Ontario Nursing Informatics Group), and other provinces have groups as well. ONIG puts on full day education events that attendees can join ‘live’ or via the web.  CNIA has a number of events (often webinars) and a conference as well. Other ways to get involved are to read about the topic, attend a course, or ask to shadow someone who works in the field.  The group of people working in nursing informatics in Canada is very welcoming and friendly, so don’t hesitate to reach out for advice on ways to get involved.

Why did you join CNIA?

I have joined CNIA for a couple of reasons. First, I like to have a sense of what the trends are in the nursing informatics field and by being a member I receive the newsletters and updates. It’s a great venue for me to learn, become informed and meet other like-minded individuals. Second, I wanted to meet other people with a similar interest. By joining the planning committee for the national conference, I was able to connect on a regular basis with many nurses doing amazing and diverse work in this field in Canada.

Do you have a twitter handle?

Yes, @gstrudrn