As the world and our lives continue to adapt with these challenging times, I want to take this opportunity to recognize a subset of the AMIA family, many of whom are working on the front lines of this pandemic: our nurses.
In celebration of the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale, the World Health Organization declared 2020 to be the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. Nightingale is considered the founder of modern nursing during a time when nursing wasn’t considered a profession.
During National Nurses Week, and always, AMIA is proud to recognize our 368 AMIA nurses who are an integral component to the healthcare workforce. Informatics is a dynamic field and nursing informatics is a critical piece of the evolving health informatics puzzle. Nursing informatics professionals continue to contribute to the advancement and innovation of patient care.
Prior to my career in informatics, I was a clinical nurse specialist in the early years of prospective payment. Like most hospitals during that time, we were concerned about decreasing costs and lengths of stay without compromising patient outcomes. In response to these pressures, I lead interdisciplinary teams in developing clinical pathways as part of our work redesign efforts. At our hospital, all the clinical documentation was on paper and while the clinical pathways worked well overall—we did decrease both costs and LOS significantly—we had problems dealing with variance because there was no efficient way to capture, track, and address variance on paper. What we really needed was computers and decision support, but unfortunately in the late 1990s I didn’t know anything about informatics or even what decision support was. In my doctoral program at Columbia University I learned how informatics was key to addressing the variance problem and improving patient outcomes. I also learned the value of my AMIA membership as I networked and began to collaborate with others facing (and solving) similar challenges.
AMIA’s nursing community is strong and many have taken on leadership roles within AMIA. Sue Bakken is the current Editor-in-Chief of JAMIA, and my former mentor. In case you missed it, JAMIA is offering a special Virtual Nursing Collection that is open access through the end of May. This collection contains 70 nursing articles curated by Sue Bakken and Greg Alexander, the current chair of the AMIA Nursing Informatics Working Group (NIWG).
I am proud to be a member of NIWG. It was in NIWG that my nursing informatics career took shape. Over the years, my NIWG connections have led to national and international research and dissemination collaborations. Within NIWG I was mentored by colleagues, and it is through the NIWG leadership pipeline that I first served as NIWG member at large, then NIWG Chair, AMIA Board Member, AMIA Annual Symposium Scientific Program Chair, and currently as AMIA Board Chair. This group continues to create lifelong connections and collaborations. NIWG has more than 290 current members and has a newly created Twitter account: @AMIANIWG. If you are a nurse and not a member of this community, I highly encourage you to join.
The Virtual Clinical Informatics Conference (VCIC) is next week, and continues to grow in its nursing content and attendees. There are several nursing-focused sessions including a presentation by Sue Bakken related to her nursing editorial in JAMIA. The VCIC is co-chaired by Susie Hull, a prominent nurse leader within AMIA, and the Program Committee involves additional nurse leaders. I encourage you to join me for the VCIC Voices of AMIA Listening Session on May 20. The Program Committee and the AMIA staff have been hard at work to shift what is normally a live meeting to a fully virtual event. Register here.
The AMIA COVID webinar series has been extremely successful, with 10 webinars so far. NIWG held a webinar as part of the series on April 14. Visit the AMIA Coronavirus Resource Page for the recording and slides.
Please take the time to recognize the nurses in your communities. I am proud of my work in the profession, and proud to be in a field with these inspirational and heroic individuals.
I hope you and your loved ones remain healthy and safe, and I look forward to the time we can gather together again.
Please reach out to me or any of our board members with questions, concerns, and your suggestions for AMIA’s role as we work to advance health care through informatics.