Canadian Nursing Informatics Association

Barb Cross

22 Oct 2021 5:24 PM | Lisa Totton (Administrator)

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

I began my nursing career at the tender age of 18, completing a geriatric aide course, and working in long term care all through nursing school, eventually graduating from Victoria’s first college-based diploma program. After moving to the Yukon Territory, newly married, I was beyond excited to launch my nursing career as a new grad at Whitehorse General Hospital on the medical/surgical units. With over 40 years in health care, what an incredible journey it has been, providing direct patient care in med/surg, critical care, perioperative, and PeriAnesthesia areas. I have also had the privilege to work in multiple education and leadership capacities all while continuing my academic studies. All of these years combined have informed my direction towards Nursing/Clinical Informatics and I am so very proud to have joined the many nurses who came before and after me in this regard!

While working in ICU in the Yukon, I found myself curious about how biomedical technologies augmented our everyday practice - ultimately becoming the extension of our senses and intuitions. In other words, I realized early on that these devices enable us to visually incorporate the data outputs into our assessments and ongoing monitoring of the patient; essentially, they adding to my assessments and/or validating the patient’s often invisible physiological queues. These technology enablers excited me and I wanted to learn more about how they could fully optimize my practice in the context of the care delivery workflows. Fast forward to the bedside computer age - and an incredibly informative undergrad course delivered by none-other than Dr. Kathryn Hannah, one of our true Canadian pioneers in Nursing Informatics - who was my professor in Nursing Applications in Computers - she and Dr. Lynn Nagle continue to be my inspiration in this area; and because of them and many others, we as nurses get to realize fully integrated and digitally enabled care environments that include a completely digitized patient record with highly integrated biomedical solutions!

2. What was your first role in informatics?

While working towards a Masters in Nursing Science with directed study in Health Information Science, I became a PowerChart (Cerner EHR) Trainer in 2005 at my local health authority. I then went on to become the first Clinical informatics Specialist and eventually established the inaugural Clinical Informatics program at Island Health.

3. What is your current role and what is the focus of that role?

I have recently retired from Vancouver Coastal Health as Regional Director, Clinical Informatics and Standardization and am now acting in a consulting capacity with Cross-Owl Consulting in health informatics.

4. What key message do you have for nurses interested in working in the informatics field?

Oh my goodness, this domain of digitally-enabled practice is likely one of the most exciting, intellectually challenging and opportunistic growth areas in nursing and health care! There is no other practice domain in nursing that encompasses your practice, knowledge, clinical data analysis and standardization, health systems thinking, transformational leadership and change knowledge and experience, demands for the translation of practice and clinical standards across digitized practices and workflows at/near the point of care, and the ultimate integration of all of the technology solutions imaginable! This the most exciting and ever-expanding area of practice in health care!


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