Nurse Informaticist – The Bigger Picture Nurse

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What is a Nurse Informaticist? It’s a “big picture nurse,” and one that can leave you feeling disconnected. But it can still be very rewarding.

My Experience as a Nurse Informaticist

It’s been a whole month since I jumped over onto the informatics train in nursing leaving my bedside care buddies behind and diving deep into the world of nursing informatics. The change was met with confusion from my colleagues and excitement from me. “Finally,” I thought, “I can be a part of the big picture.” And that is exactly what I have done. A month into this role I have learned a lot about just how big that picture really is and how many people are involved in the process. Nothing is as simple as it seems it should be and everything touches everything.

The Most Rewarding Things About Being a Nurse Informaticist

There are honestly a lot of things I love about this new role. Being a nurse informaticist has a ton of rewarding aspects, these are my favorite parts.

Nurse Informaticist Blends Technology and Nursing

Forgive me for combining my passions here, but nursing informatics its a beautiful blend of the nursing approach and technology. You have to look at the EMR/EHR from a holistic or systems approach.

Even if you do not think a change will have an impact on anything else, there are some very real chances that it might. In fact, there are some very real chances that someone will be furious with that change!

It Offers A Holistic Approach

Patient care in nursing is a holistic and body system approach. Yes their blood pressure is high, and we can give them a beta blocker, but what is causing their blood pressure to be high? Are they in pain, need their Lasix, have a sodium imbalance, need dialysis, are they paraplegic and laying on something that is irritating them?

You can’t just throw a band-aid on the immediate problem and leave it at that, can you? Sure Hydralazine or Metoprolol at 3 am to lower your sky-high pressure is fine for a moment, but you have to figure out what the bigger problem is here. What is the cause of the problem? And what can you do to fix it? And when you fix it, what else will you break in the process, because we all know medications have nearly as many side effects as they do benefits.

Nurse Informaticist is Like Replacing the Band-Aids

That’s what nursing informatics is like. Or at least, in my humble opinion, that’s how nurse informaticist should practice. We can’t fix immediate problems and ignore the big picture. By all means, we must fix the immediate issues, but we need to explore and dig deeper to see what really caused the problem and how we can not only fix this problem but improve the entire process. I’ve stated before that nursing informatics is about the bigger picture, and I stand by it.

Is A Nurse Informaticist Still a Nurse?

Am I still a nurse even though I don’t take care of patients?

I’d argue that I do take care of patients. In fact, I’d argue that the entire health care system and community I work for are my patients. The patients, the nurses, the doctors, the administrators, the vendors, and everyone else that makes the system work.

I take care of all of them by doing my best make their jobs and efficient as possible all while ensuring documentation is performed accurately and within the legal guidelines and regulations. I am an advocate for patients and technology. It is my goal to make technology work with providers to improve patient care. Technology should never be a barrier to good care, but an enhancement.

So often I have said that nursing deals with quality of life rather than merely quantity. Nursing informatics deals with the quality of the health care system rather than just quality.

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13 thoughts on “Nurse Informaticist – The Bigger Picture Nurse”

  1. You are absolutely still a nurse! Nursing has been redefined to include so many variations of what a “nurse” is and does. The 21st century nurse can “care” for patients–and the health care system at large–in many ways, and you are doing your part whether you’re “hands on” or not!

  2. i want to know that if i can work as a nurse informaticist after complition of Post graduate health informatics programme without CRNE

  3. Good for you! We need nurses who are passionate about what they do. So many nurses never change from their comfort zone maybe due to the fear or lack of energy to make the change, but many want to keep everyone in the same state of inertia -“misery loves company” type of attitude. With healthcare changing so rapidly, we need nurses of all kinds to assist in the development of our “whole” practice. IT and documentation is the story of our work and the efficiency of that EMR is important. I would rather have nurses in the IT dept designing a document that they meets the need of the organization and the IT nurse would like to use themselves. They understand the language, the challenges in documentation, and the added burden of increased workload with limited staffing. So I hope you continue to broaden your scope of practice and help the rest of us who made the choice to stay where we are!

    1. Thank you so much! What a complement. And what a fantastically eloquent writer you are! If you ever want to guest blog post, I’d love to have you!

      I enjoy deeply what I get to do everyday. I get to advocate for patients, nurses and technology and do things on the internet all day long. I get to improve healthcare by helping facilitate accurate and comprehensive documentation. I get to push healthcare into the future through embracing technology.

      It is unfortunate that the “misery loves company” mentality plagues many aspects of healthcare. At my former employer, there was no shortage of nurses who were in a rut. More often then not they wanted to bring others right down there with them. I cannot tell you just how many times I was told “Why do you care? I’ve been here forever, and things will never change.” I made the decision that I needed to be somewhere where I could make a change. It’s been the best decision I could have made. I am exponentially happier and fulfilled in my career path.

      Nursing is so varied and flexible. I wish that every nurse would find their niche instead of just going through the motions and being miserable if they don’t love it anymore. We all deserve happiness in our lives.

  4. This post caught my attention because a couple of hours ago, I had conversation with a relative who said “That’s not real nursing” when I told him about what I do. I am also a nurse and I work for a healthcare information and communication technology company. My job entails developing healthcare systems/platforms. I haven’t been much of a bedside nurse but I also strongly believe that regardless of how I serve patients, as long as what I do are genuinely for patients’ benefit, I am still a nurse. Best of luck in your new career. 🙂

  5. Remember you are still helping! Something similar happened to me when I took my job as social media. I’m a psychologist so would I still be helping people? Yes I am. It’s just a different approach. I still see some patients but mostly I help raise awareness for a medical company. I am helping a different set of people who are still in need. If you don’t do it then who?

  6. When I moved from the PICU to a desk job as a case manager, I asked myself that a lot: “Am I still a nurse?”. I would even catch myself talking about when I was in the hospital as “when I was a nurse such and such happened”. I’m not sure if I’ll ever do bedside care anytime soon. Part of me does fear losing all of the intense clinical knowledge and skill that I worked SO hard to accumulate. When I talked with my old manager about it, she said “you have to look at it as if you are choosing to gain new skills, not give up your current skills”. I definitely do still feel like a nurse- just a different type, a “big picture” nurse.

    1. I think you are absolutely right. It takes all of us working on a different piece of the puzzle and take care of the patients. I always heard people getting very upset with the changes may by “people who don’t work the floor” I always tried to look at it from the other side of the fence.

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