Canadian Nursing Informatics Association

Lisa Totton

22 Oct 2021 5:18 PM | Anonymous

How did you start your career in nursing?  What first drew you to informatics?

Nursing was not actually my first career after High School.  I honestly wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but my brother was in his 3rd year of Computer Science at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) and was really enjoying it.  He was especially enthusiastic about the co-op program, and since it would allow me to gain experience and help pay for tuition, I decided it was worth a try.  I enjoyed the program, but when I graduated in 2006 it was with the realization that what I’m passionate about is helping others.  During that time, I also joined Weight Watchers and lost 65 pounds, and decided that I wanted to learn how to help others be healthy.  In 2007 I applied for UNB’s accelerated BN program with the vague hope that my IT skills might still be useful at some point in my future career.  I was accepted into the program, and after the first few courses, I had the realization that I was MEANT to be a nurse.  This is where I belonged.

What was your first role in informatics?

I was fortunate to obtain a permanent position at my local hospital immediately after graduation as a bedside RN on a Family Practice / Cardiac Step-Down unit.  Unfortunately, a back injury led me to leave bedside nursing 8 months later, and I have been working in informatics ever since.  My first Nursing Informatics role was as a Business Analyst with the hospital’s IT department, supporting their Electronic Health Record system (Meditech), along with several other clinical applications.  I really enjoyed that role as it allowed me to learn an enormous amount about these applications and provided the opportunity to work with a wide variety of people in other areas of the organization.

What is your current role and what is the focus of the role?

I am currently a Business Intelligence Analyst for Horizon Health Network.  In this role I am responsible for creating visually engaging, interactive reports based on hospital data in the Microsoft Power BI application.  This role is a fantastic fit for my background as it allows me to combine the skills I acquired during my Computer Science program with my Nursing background and my knowledge of our Electronic Health Record system.

What key messages do you have for nurses interested in working in the informatics field 

The thing I enjoyed the most from my Computer Science program was learning computer programming.  It’s super fun, a useful skill, and aligns incredibly well with the problem solving we employ as Nurses.  If you are a student and have a chance to take a programming elective, take that chance.  Otherwise, there are a ton of free learning experiences available online.  Canada Learning Code is an organization I have volunteered with in the past; they provide a variety wonderful free learning experiences.

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