How and why did you become interested in nursing informatics?
My nursing informatics path has been a little different than most. I had looked to nursing as an area of study but this was during the early 90’s in Alberta when we were experiencing health care cuts, and there were limited employment opportunities. I also had an interest in technology so decided to enroll in a post-secondary undergraduate program in computer science, since this type of knowledge could be applied to many areas. I then worked for seven years as a computer programmer in the field of military defense research. However, my need to be in the healthcare field resurfaced, so re-entered school to receive my Bachelor in Nursing. I had a wonderful opportunity come forward shortly after graduation that would use both my nursing and computer science training: implementation of a clinical information system for homecare, within my jurisdiction. Being able to work with both clinical and technical team members to ensure the clinical system met the needs of the business related to clinical practice, change management, safe usage and adoption peaked my greater desire to learn more about nursing informatics. I researched many options to learn more and eventually enrolled into a Masters in Science in Nursing Informatics, which I completed in 2010. Since then, I have been involved in additional home care CIS projects within Alberta, as well as the selection and implementation of a standardized multi-disciplinary care planning taxonomy within Alberta home care. I have had roles within the clinical business, information technology, and the Chief Medical Information Office: all of which have provided me with opportunities to describe the role and how nursing informatics clinicians are foundational to transforming care delivery with technology supporting the health outcomes for our patients/clients.
Describe what your current role involves?
My current role is with Alberta Health Services (AHS) Chief Medical Information Office. I am the Program Director responsible for informatics competency and practice standards. Basically, I am responsible and accountable to ensure that healthcare professionals and others are prepared for the adoption and ‘meaningful use’ of health information and health information technology in the effective delivery of healthcare services of the future.
One of the key elements of my portfolio is the development of strong relationships with AHS internal stakeholders including clinical, operational, corporate, and information technology leadership, in identifying key priorities and opportunities for the development of informatics training and career development. I’m also involved in the development of Informatics training programs, curricula and competency assessments within AHS. Within the CMIO, we strive to provide opportunities for advanced informatics training and research by supporting undergraduate and graduate student practicums.
Networking with other nursing informatics clinicians is something I enjoy greatly, so I’m always looking for opportunities to get involved, such as, an abstract reviewer for annual conferences including Canada’s eHealth and HIMSS. Recently, I have accepted the President position with our Nursing Informatics Association of Alberta (NIAA). I believe there is a great deal to learn from our United States colleagues, so I’ve maintained connections with classmates as well as having an active membership with the American Nursing Informatics Association.
Which areas of nursing informatics do you find most interesting?
The field of nursing informatics is so vast. The one area that I am passionate about is the development of competencies and practice standards for the use of health information technology (HIT). Being able to work with front line clinicians to develop skills and knowledge on the use of HIT and how it can be integrated into their day to day care deliver keeps me connected to clinical care. Using these clinician connections, I am also able to build on another area of interest: adoption of HIT. Being able to support clinical adoption with clinical competencies and practice standards enables clinicians and healthcare organizations to gain the best health outcomes with the investments into HIT.
What advice do you have for others who are interested?
As I think about how to get involved in informatics, I would reiterate many of the points shared by Dr. Nagle in her CNIA profile around networking, connecting with mentors, and getting involved in HIT initiatives. Understanding the roles of the various Informatics associations such as COACH or Canada Health Infoway and how they can support informatics practice is also important.
Within Alberta, we have a jurisdictional Nursing Informatics specialty practice group (NIAA) that is available to anyone including Nurses and Allied Health. As part of my role with the AHS CMIO, we have developed a Clinical Informatics Community of Practice (CoP) which is available to anyone within our organization. This CoP has also developed connections with NIAA to support wider networking opportunities.
Why did you join CNIA?
I became involved with CNIA a few years ago and saw it as a great opportunity to support the voice of “nursing informatics” in Canada. Having a national association to represent the unique practice needs and research opportunities in Canada will help advance our practice as well as elevate the need to involve nurses (and other clinicians) into HIT initiatives. As a member, I enjoy the educational events sponsored by CNIA, as I am keenly interested in knowing what is happening in other Canadian jurisdictions.