It’s National Nurses Week, and HIMSS joins with the American Nurses Association to honor nurses for their contributions to patient care…and more. Nurses from our nursing community will post on the blog this week and tell you why they joined this profession.
Our first post comes from HIMSS Board Chair-Elect, Willa Fields, DNSc, RN, FHIMSS. Read Willa’s post and check the blog every day to see what other nurses in informatics say about their careers in – and passion for – nursing. Visit the HIMSS website for more information on what we are doing during this important week honoring nurses. Christel Anderson, Director, Clinical Informatics, HIMSS
by Willa Fields, DNSc, RN, FHIMSS
Why did you become a nurse? I’m one of those people who always wanted to be a nurse, sort of. Sometime during high school, I thought about becoming a physician, but like many girls of my generation (1950s-1960s), my parents explicitly told me since I was a girl, my choice in healthcare was to be a nurse.
They could not understand why a girl would spend so much time (and money) in school, when ultimately, I would get married and have children. They didn’t understand that a family and career could be mixed. So off to nursing school I went. In my late 20s, I reconsidered becoming a physician in critical care, but decided nursing was where my heart was, so I went back to school to get my master’s and doctorate in nursing. I’ve been thrilled with my career choice!
How did you transition to informatics? After I completed my doctorate in 1990, I went to work in an acute care hospital as the quality coordinator in critical care. My interest was in helping the organization use data to answer clinical questions. I helped the organization transform from a quality assurance perspective (who did what wrong?) to a continuous quality improvement one (how can we improve care and outcomes?). The hospital was computerized, and I became interested in querying the data bases to asses clinical care.
I then worked for a small clinical information software company to help them and their customers use the data in the clinical data base. We developed ORYX indicators; it was an exciting time in quality/performance improvement. I was able to combine my research, nursing, and clinical background. At this point, I considered myself an informatics nurse and became active in HIMSS.
From the software company, I returned to the acute care hospital as the VP of patient care systems in information systems, where I oversaw the acquisition, design, implementation and maintenance of clinical systems.
Becoming an informatics nurse has been a natural progression. I’ve had a long career with varied experiences, that ultimately brought me to nursing informatics.
What advice would you give nurses looking to get into the informatics field?
- Be active in HIMSS at the local and national levels.
- Avail yourself of their committee and educational opportunities.
- Enroll in a graduate informatics program.
- Become certified in informatics.
- Become a super user of your organization’s EHR.
- Find ways to improve the EHR in your organization.
- Find an informatics nurse to mentor you.
What do you see your role as within nursing informatics today? I am in Erikson’s generativity stage of life. I want to excite other nurses about nursing informatics and promote their careers. I do that through my work as a university professor, where I teach undergraduate and graduate courses in informatics, and my involvement in HIMSS.
Willa Fields, DNSc, RN, FHIMSS
HIMSS Board Chair-Elect Professor, School of Nursing
San Diego State University