by Crystal Rojas, MSN informatics student with a few years in the field
Have you ever felt like you were on the cusp of something really special?
That’s how I’ve been feeling lately, as I pursue a career in nursing informatics (NI). I’m rounding out my last two semesters at the University of Maryland Baltimore‘s NI graduate program, along with my fourth year in the field as a clinical applications coordinator at the Veterans Administration (VA).
In her blog post “These Are Boom Times for Nursing Informatics,” Joyce Sensmeier reminded us this is a field many hundreds of students and professionals are lining up for, and that attendance at conferences is swelling to capacity.
These are definitely boom times. I can feel it.
I feel it when talking to nurses who are challenged – and inspired – by what it takes to implement their EHR for meaningful use. And I see it in the abundant job listings that require a blend of clinical and technological experience. Informatics nurses are truly in demand.
I’ve always been fascinated with health and the complexity of the human body, but a few other things lined up in my life to steer me toward this particular field.
I also grew up using a computer and enjoyed playing around on it, to see everything it could do. In college, I worked as an “IT techie grunt” in the school’s library basement— a menial student job, to some, but it was just where I wanted to be.
That is, until I saw my first EHR.
I was deeply amazed that human health and technology could intersect in such an organic way, and that’s when a light came on: I had found my niche. I would later be the “nerdy nurse” in the ICU before eventually moving on to my current position, where I act as a liaison between IT and clinical services.
But even after finding what you love, it is also important to keep looking, to expand your knowledge of what you love.
I think most of us get isolated in the bubble of our own organization or health system. I’ve been a systems analyst for nearly four years, and, until recently, had never really considered anything else.
When my school’s program director suggested that I move into a position of leadership, I thought she couldn’t possibly be talking about me. I admired the director for the role she held, and came to understand the value of her advice. When we pay attention to what others are doing, we grow and learn together.
In our field, changes happen quickly, and we need to stay plugged in – to keep in tune with one another – if we want to make a genuine contribution to the climate of healthcare. Here are some ways you can be connected:
- Education: Enroll in a workshop, a course or a degree program! I’ve met many experts and field beginners at seminars and other events, and they each gave me different and insightful perspectives.
- Organizations: Join an organization – like the HIMSS NI Community! Workgroups and supportive conference calls will link you up with talented peers.
- Attend Conferences: This year, I went to HIMSS 12 and SINI. Both were amazing! I got to network with nurses from my job, my school, and my professional organizations. The conference setting makes me feel like my finger is truly on the pulse. By the way, HIMSS13 will be in New Orleans!!
It’s absolutely crucial that we, as nurses, work together to enhance the future of health IT. I celebrate the fact that we nurses can take an active role in the evolution of hardware and software by providing feedback and bringing our clinical knowledge to bear on the process.
It is a truly exciting time for nursing informatics, and I’m grateful to be there learning and leading the way.
Crystal “nerdy nurse” Rojas, RN, BSN, is an MSN informatics student at University of Maryland, Baltimore; a clinical applications coordinator at the Veterans Administration; and an active taskforce member for the HIMSS NI community.