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University of Colorado College of Nursing

College of Nursing

The History of CU's Health Informatics Program

Learn about the development of the Health Care Informatics Program

In 1989, the then University of Colorado Health Sciences Center School of Nursing hired Dr. Diane J. Skiba to develop the informatics specialty option and to serve as the Director of Informatics. Over the course of the next 8 years, Dr. Skiba help build the technology infrastructure in the School of Nursing and pilot tested the informatics specialty option to local student population.
In 1997, Dr. Skiba, Associate Dean for Informatics and Director of Academic Innovations and Dr. Amy Barton, Associate Dean for Clinical Practice created the online informatics program. Three concepts were instrumental in the design of the online program. First, an interdisciplinary focus was essential. Second, a learner-centered model was foundational. Third, funding was key to experimenting with new technologies to support the online program. More information is provided below under the Interprofessional Education, Learner Centered Model and Grant Funding topics.

 Grant Funding

Grant Funding
Since 1994, the College of Nursing has received a variety of grants to support the continued development of our informatics Curriculum and to experiment with the use of various technologies to promote a learner centered model of both interprofessional education and student support. Here is just a sampling of the grants. THE HITEC grant allowed us not only to offer scholarships to 156 learners but also allowed use to strengthen our interprofessional focus and create a Career Center for our graduates.
The funding allowed us to test that value of our I-Collaboratory concept. The I-Collaboratory, a social network for our informatics community, distinguishes us from other graduate programs. The I-Collaboratory was established in 2001 to support our online program. The purpose of the I-Collaboratory was to create a learner-centered environment to support, socialize, mentor and connect students who are engaged in web-based learning. The intent was to decrease learner's feelings of isolation, increase satisfaction, insure quality educational experiences, facilitate professional socialization, retain students and help form connections in the world of health care informatics.
Another grant helped us to build the CU Virtual Clinic/Hospital in Second Life. This allowed us to test the use of Second Life as a platform for our learners to interact as a project team in the System Life Cycle course. As a project team they could meet in a conference room, brainstorm and make decisions, meet with the CIO and use role playing to document workflows.
Our newest grant allows us to license the use of Cerner Academic Solution, their academic version of their electronic health record (EHRs). This allows us to foster communication between a care team consisting of nurses, pharmacists and physicians. It also provides opportunities for our informatics students to examine various components of EHRs. To read more about the technologies mentioned here, visit our Technology page.
Dr. Skiba received grants to facilitate the continued development of both the informatics option and the RN-BS programs.

Principal Investigator, i-TEAM (Interprofessional Technology Enhanced Advanced Practice Model), 2012 -2015

Department of Health & Human Services, Health Resources & Services Administration, Division of Nursing, Advanced Nursing Education.

Principal Investigator, Colorado Health Information Technology Collaborative (HITEC), 2010 -2013

Department of Health & Human Services, Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology University-Based Training Grant. ($2,622,186)

Co-Investigator, Faculty Development: Integrating Technology into Nursing Education and Practice Initiative grant, 2007 -2012

PI: Dr. Helen Connors, University of Kansas. Department of Health & Human Services, Health Resources & Services Administration, Division of Nursing. ($1,500,000)

Principal Investigator, I-Collaboratory: Partnerships in Learning, 2007 -2011

Department of Health & Human Services, Health Resources & Services Administration, Division of Nursing, Advanced Nursing Education. ($629,371)

Principal Investigator, I-Collaboratory: Partnerships in Learning, 2003 -2006

Department of Health & Human Services, Health Resources & Services Administration, Division of Nursing, Advanced Nursing Education. ($707,244)

Principal Investigator, The Learning Collaboratory: Promoting RN-BS Advancement, 2001 -2004

Department of Health & Human Services, Health Resources & Services Administration, Division of Nursing, Basic Nursing Education. ($606,625)

Principal Investigator, Creating a learner-centered environment for Nursing Education, 1998 -2000

University of Colorado Total Learning Environment. ($218,000)

Principal Investigator, The Learning Circle: An international web-based course, 1998

Bridge to the Future Award, University of Colorado Chancellor Award. ($4,800)

Principal Investigator, Computer Mediated Learning Project, 1994

University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Academic Enrichment Award. ($4,000)1

 Interprofessional Learning

Interprofessional Learning
The University of Colorado College of Nursing, along with the other schools on the Anschutz Medical Campus, believe that interprofessional education is an important component of health professional education. The informatics specialty has always tried to maintain the big picture of health care informatics while providing an in-depth perspective of nursing informatics.
Here are some of our interprofessional efforts:
• The background of the faculty reflects disciplinary knowledge is nursing and medical informatics, computer science, engineering, and social sciences. Read more about our Faculty
• The Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CCTSI) is the academic home of biomedical research that reaches from labs and into lives.
A major component of the CCTSI is the Translational Informatics Core, directed by Dr. Michael Kahn, one of our informatics faculty.
There are several educational resources related to informatics that you can access:

 Learner-Centered Model

​Learner-Centered Model
From the beginning, our consultants helped us to develop a learner-centered model for our informatics specialty. Our model creates an active learning environment that allows students to interact with content, fellow learners and with the faculty. This is an active and interactive learning environment that uses both asynchronous and real-time learning experiences.
We also participated with two other schools (University of Kansas Medical Center and Indiana University Schools of Nursing) to test a benchmarking model of Best Practices for Web-based Courses in Nursing Education (Billings, D., Connors, H. & Skiba, D. (2001). Benchmarking Best Practices in Nursing Web-Based Courses. Advances in Nursing Science, 23 (3), 41-52). You can find out more about the learner-centered model on our Course Foundations page.
We also incorporated a new role within the school to support online learners. We developed the role of a Coordinator of Recruitment and Learning to support student at a distance. The research has demonstrated having student support is a necessary and important function especially for students not able to come to campus. Based on our own research and Best Practices from other online programs, we believe our Online concierge offers technical support in the online learning environment, guidance through the new student orientation, schedules reminders, personal assistance in working with other university departments and reaches out to distance learners to enhance their experiences with CU College of Nursing. This customer service helps prepare students to start classes and ensures that the online learning experience is smooth and trouble-free so they may concentrate on learning. This allows for:
• One-stop center for student service
• Helping students moving forward with their educational goals
• Advocate for you with departments, offices, and people on campus, including: admissions, registration, bursar, Financial aid, ISIS, CUOnline, library, Graduate School, academic services such as the writing center, disabilities office
• Personalized support for students from the time of enrollment until graduation