To gain knowledge about nursing informatics (NI) and day-to-date realities associated with it, the interview with Jincy Chacko, a clinical informatics specialist at the Northwell Health system, was conducted by telephone.
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The purpose of this paper is to summarize the key aspects concerning NI practitioners’ activity. In this respect, formal and informal preparation issues are considered through the example of the interviewee’s qualifications and expertise. Further, NI functional areas and primary responsibilities are discussed. Finally, the differences between theory and practice are analyzed: academic knowledge and its actual implementation by the professional are compared.
Ms. Chacko has been working in the current position since November 2014. She stated that a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree was the required minimum for those who wanted to become NI practitioners. However, many specialists hold master’s degrees in nursing informatics nowadays, and the interviewee is also a Master’s prepared professional with a background in Information Systems. According to Ms.
Chacko’s advice, if an individual plans to become an NI specialist, they should earn the degree and become a clinical informatics intern. As for the informal preparation, she expressed the opinion that a person had to be a good communicator interested in two spheres: informatics and technologies and liaison among consumers, nurses, health care specialists, and patients in terms of technology. She admitted that the twofold contents of NI work drew her attention because she needed to stay in touch with people and at the same time apply her IT knowledge to practice.
The main part of the interview addressed NI functional areas. As a rule, the following areas are usually listed:
- Administration, Leadership, and Management;
- Compliance and Integrity Management;
- Coordination, Facilitation, and Integration;
- Education and Professional Development;
- Policy Development and Advocacy;
- Research and Evaluation (Healthcare Information, 2012).
The interviewee confirmed that these functional areas referred to NI practice and explained that she concentrated on Administration, Leadership, Management, Analysis, Development, and Education, and her responsibilities were intertwined with them. Ms. Chacko described several duties: for example, she helped introduce and improve the agile development process within the hospital setting and analyzed clinical workflow; I assume these duties pertain to Administration, Management, and Analysis.
She also reported that she sometimes carried out business analysis and suggested solutions to enhance the services of the Northwell hospital and population health in general. In this regard, she saw IT project management as the most effective tool and frequently used it to solve problems concerning Administration functional area. Moreover, Education was called one of the most significant areas: the interviewee concentrated on training and provided health care specialists, predominantly nurses, with IT knowledge.
She emphasized that she was engaged in this type of activity almost every day. In this context, she underscored that the normalization and promotion of the standard language were the matters of great importance. I was surprised to know that there were quite different terms within the IT-sphere; thus, NI specialists had to address this issue and help staff members orientate themselves in streams of data.
The information I received from Ms. Chacko is relevant to what is described in the literature. However, scholarly sources normally give lists of abstract duties, for instance, evaluation, maintenance, training, testing, identification of additional technologies, and so on (Hunt, Sproat, & Kitzmiller, 2013). The concrete examples given by the interviewee helped me understand the duties better. When it comes to practice, not all areas may be covered.
Overall, this assignment helped me immensely. I understood that actual professional tasks of IN practitioners demanded advanced knowledge and skills. Now I see that NI functional areas are diverse and multi-dimensional and require specialization.
Hunt, E. C., Sproat, S. B., & Kitzmiller, R. R. (2013). The nursing informatics implementation guide. Raleigh, NC: Springer Science & Business Media.
Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. (2012). What is a nurse informatics specialist?