by Marianela ”Nelita” Zytkowski, DNP, MS, RN-BC
My older sister was my inspiration to go into nursing. She was my inspiration for most things growing up, as the younger sibling who wanted to be just like her, from the clothes she wore to the activities she joined.
I was a total copy cat mostly because she was so passionate about her approach to life in everything she did that it created an energy and enthusiasm for others in a way that just made you want to be part of whatever she was in to. My choice to go into nursing was no different.
While I have always admired my sister, there is still that sibling rivalry that middle children seem to be blessed with, so I knew I wanted to go into nursing but that my career path, once in the profession, was going to be very distinctive and completely opposite from hers, so that I could stand out.
So, before ever entering school or laying hands on a patient, I knew that I was not going to be a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner or a Legal Nurse Consultant, like my sister. And that’s when I set my goals on forensic nursing. I wanted to study crimes and care for my patients by helping to put their offenders behind bars. I guess you could say being the middle child also gave me a flare for the dramatics!
Then I started nursing school.
During my first week of my first year of a BSN program, I took an Introduction to Nursing Informatics class at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and I was hooked! From the moment my instructor (and my first nursing informatics mentor, Chris Hudak) began her opening remarks to the class, I caught the informatics bug!
At the time, in the mid 1990s, this was only School of Nursing in the country to offer this curriculum to its undergraduate nursing students all four years of the program. Case Western Reserve University was also awarded as the “Most Wired” University in the country when I attend, so technology was becoming a part of the main stay in dorm rooms and across campus life.
That said, I was still a very rare case with my instant interest in this field. All of my classmates, like most nurses today, could not understand or see the significance as to why nurses need to engage in the adoption of technology at the point of care and how this specialty area of nursing practice had any practical application to caring for patients. For my analytical mind though, it just clicked.
I was inspired from moment-one of my nursing journey to give high quality, efficient care to my patients and to other nurses by helping to manage data and information in a safe and effective way that promotes patient care. I couldn’t help but sit in class as a young college freshman and think of the endless possibilities for the future with this field.
At that point, I worked steadily to improve my clinical knowledge and experience as well as my technical knowledge and system experience. For me, the two will forever go hand-in-hand throughout my nursing career.
Note: In conjunction with HIMSS Professional Development and Informatics sections, Cleveland Clinic is hosting the Nursing Informatics Institute on May 31. Find out more..and register…here.
Marianela ”Nelita” Zytkowski, DNP, MS, RN-BC is Senior Director of Nursing Informatics at Cleveland Clinic Health System in Cleveland, Ohio.