In 2008, US News and World Report listed health care informatics as an ahead-of-the-curve career. As the medical field continues its transition to electronic records, every health care professional is impacted. Nursing, with its close interaction with patients, relies heavily on the technological advances of the informatics resources. According to Amy Barton, associate professor and associate dean for Clinical and Community Affairs, “our goal is to teach students about informatics as a tool to facilitate data collection in order to improve patient care outcomes.”
In order to provide quality and real-life experiences to nursing students, the College of Nursing simulation labs have recently installed new computing equipment that will allow students to learn and train to implement informatics into their everyday routines. “Providing experience with electronic health records early in student clinical education assists in valuing data as a resource for patient care and moves well beyond the ‘which button do I press?’ mentality that characterizes current ‘computer training’ in many health care facilities,” says Barton.
In addition to providing students with informatics based clinical training, the College of Nursing has a cutting edge health care informatics program. Informatics combines the clinical expertise of nursing professionals with the increasing need to implement technology in patient care. “The field of informatics provides opportunities for health care professionals to become leaders in the forefront of health care transformation through the use of provider and patient care technologies,” says Diane J. Skiba, professor and health care informatics program director.
Under Skiba’s leadership, the health care informatics program has been awarded many grants aimed at program development, the most recent being $2.6 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds to educate professionals to help develop this growing field. These stimulus funds have been awarded to the College of Nursing to assist in educating professionals to convert the nation’s electronic health records by 2014.
The push to have complete electronic health records only makes it more important that today’s nurses are equipped with the training and education to utilize this technology to improve patient care. At the College of Nursing, students have access to a state-of-the-art simulation lab to help them implement the informatics technology into their clinical studies and eventual careers.