To celebrate International Nurses Day, we asked our clinical consultants to share their perspectives on the evolution and use of health IT.
Pauline McLean, Clinical Consultant, United Kingdom
Back in the day as a nurse using technology, I didn’t have to understand the technical backbone of how it all worked, I just needed it to work for me in delivering patient care. When computers arrived on the ward, we were all wary – change was coming, and it was here to stay! Love or loathe the actual computer itself, we became friends, I became a ward champion for training and ultimately moved into the realms of a nurse working in IT and supporting all levels of the organisations. As my nursing role changed and my understanding and knowledge grew, I was able to translate the workflow and working practices technology needed to support the delivery of health and care. When I engaged in education sessions the focus was on ‘how’ to work the systems with little attention to the ‘why’.
Today this has changed, because the benefits of the ‘why’ are widely acknowledged by any user of a shared care record. Being part of a team understanding the need for change and assisting in the design through to safe implementation is as rewarding now as when I put my uniform on for the first time over 20 years ago. Being in the unique position of understanding system dependencies and how users interact with them to do their job allows me to engage on a range of deliverables from governance, benefits, and education to implementation. Was this part of my nurse training – no, but the reason I can is because I have lived it, from being involved and having the responsibility to supporting others as they embark on their journey. My role remains patient centred. Systems may have changed, technology has advanced, but I am first and foremost a nurse.
Sandra Oldfield, Senior Clinical Consultant, New Zealand
I am always left pondering when asked about my ‘job’ – what do I really do?! Yes I am a qualified nurse – having worked in a variety of clinical/specialist areas – but I have also qualified as a health informatics specialist – which combined with my nursing skills and experience brings together a broad range of clinical and health informatics knowledge.
As a clinician and clinical informatician I hope to be recognised as being someone who has the knowledge of the ‘how’ – having directly delivered patient/population health services and hands on patient care in a professional nursing role – BUT when combined with my knowledge and understanding of informatics concepts, methods and tools I can enable transformation of healthcare that will improve clinical information systems in use by my fellow nursing colleagues.
But what I usually say – I am a translator, an interpreter – working with people who develop and implement the tools that are used in healthcare.
Angela de Zwart, Clinical Solutions Specialist, New Zealand
I have over 25 years of clinical experience predominantly in ED but also working in Coronary Care, Adult Rehabilitation and as a Staff and Patient Educator in Spinal Injuries. I have also worked in emergency medicine and injury prevention research. I have a current Annual Practicing Certificate and have just completed the online training to become a COVID-19 Vaccinator with the intent of taking on a part time clinical role as a vaccinator.
I was a past chair and am a current member of the NZ Nursing and Midwifery Informatics special interest group.
Do I miss clinical practice? Yes, I miss patient contact, but I now have the opportunity to improve the health outcomes of thousands of patients. Having a background in research and data I also see the value in providing clinicians and patients with the right information at the right time and capturing health data in a way that allows for analysis and insights.My clinical background and global experience enables me to strategically feed into the development and implementation of solutions commonly used in healthcare, with a focus on user adoption and clinical safety.
Karla Vermeer, Clinical Consultant, Canada
If there ever was a year to pause and reflect on the contributions that nurses make to society, this is it! “If there are angels in heaven, they must all be nurses” - President-elect Joe Biden, Jan 19th, 2021, speaking at a memorial for COVID-19 victims.
Florence Nightingale is known as the founder of modern nursing and hospital epidemiology. Building on her incredible contribution, the contemporary nursing we celebrate today represents a broad spectrum of highly qualified clinicians addressing complex nursing challenges with care, wisdom, and innovation.
The complexity of our societies and health care systems now requires excellent nursing care. The COVID-19 pandemic added urgency and complexity to in-person and virtual patient care; while thrusting nurses across the globe into leadership roles in the performance of high-intensity collaborative team approaches to care. With compassion at the forefront, nurses continue to advocate for high-quality care of patients, effective community supports, and easily accessible health care. Nurses dedicate their professional lives to providing care and oversight using scientific guidelines and approaches for excellent care. Holding a hand or listening to a patient is accompanied by assessments based on critical thinking that can lead to health care decisions that change a life. Today the oversight of patient panels or populations with targeted health care approaches is transforming health care delivery. Nurses daily contribute to society and the overall health care system by giving reliable care, using their critical thinking skills for decision making, collaborating with team members, and helping redesign how health care is delivered.
Nurses also play a critical role in the evolution and use of health IT, never shying from its use, yet always insisting on technology that makes a tangible contribution to the wellbeing of patients and the clinical processes of care. As nurses, we are committed to contributing to the evolution of digital health applications that will support health care optimisation.
We are proud of the contributions of our nursing colleagues. Nurses are transforming the future landscape of healthcare by ensuring that patients receive high-quality, compassionate, and appropriate care in the best way for our patients, families, friends, community members, and society.
To learn more about our Clinical Consultants please get in touch: