We’ve been looking at roles nurses play in patient care away from the patient bedside and today the role we’ll examine is that of nursing informatics. The federal government is incentivizing hospitals across the country to adopt electronic health records and GVMH is ahead of the pack and working hard to qualify for its piece of the pie which amounts to $4.5 million over the next three years. Electronic documentation in the medical record is a key aspect of the process and GVMH has a couple of nurses who spend their time programming the Meditech system so that nurses and physicians can provide more efficient care. Today’s blog is by the nurse I spend the most time with, which in reality doesn’t seem to be that much but we do pass each other in the hall, we try to find time to sit down together for dinner a couple of times a week and we share the same last name. Today’s blog is by Alexa Thompson, Clinical Systems Analyst at GVMH.
Here’s a typical conversation I’m often a part of, “What do you do at the hospital?” a community member asks “I am a nurse” I respond, “oh my Mom was in the hospital last week maybe you took care of her” they say, “No, probably not because I don’t work the floor anymore” I tell them. “Really.. What so you do then”
Well, let me tell you….
There are so many things that you can do with a nursing degree it’s simply amazing to me.
Hi, I am Alexa Thompson RN, Clinical Systems Analyst. I am also the “wife/momma “ referred to many times in these blogs.
I have pretty much grown up at GVMH. I started working here in 1994 at the age of 19. I started as a certified nursing assistant, went to LPN school, then RN school . I worked during RN school as an LPN in as many areas I could because I wanted to gain experience and try to figure out which setting would be best for me as an RN. Friends and co-workers who worked in ICU and OB told me to keep my eyes open and not specialize because I would lose valuable skills. So, with that information from people I respected and trusted I worked everywhere.
I worked the float pool at GVMH for a couple of years, I worked agency, nursing home, psych children’s home, I worked anywhere and everywhere to try to figure out where I would fit in best and where I could do the most good. A couple of years into my career as an RN I had a wonderful opportunity to be house supervisor and I loved it. It was the best of both worlds. I got to be involved in patient care and get my feet wet in management.
In 2003 GVMH started looking at electronic charting and I was interested in learning more. A team was assembled to determine how best to implement electronic charting and I was asked to serve on the team, the only problem was I didn’t know anything about computers.
I am a nurse, and things have to make sense. The computer world didn’t. It took me a little while to get my bearings and to figure out that the most important thing in computer charting is to get the computer work flow to be the same as work flow on the patient care unit. On the floor when you are taking care of patients there is no black and white, you live in shades of grey, you do your thing to take care of your patient and the rest will fall in to place – you hope and pray. In the computer world everything is black and white and I had to figure out how to get those two worlds to come together.
I transitioned to being on a team to having a full-time career. I am a nurse that programs the computer to meet the needs of the nurses and physicians taking care of the patients. I also have to make sure we are meeting all of the regulatory requirements and most importantly that our electronic processes do not hinder our ability to provide the great patient care our patients expect of us. All those years of working in different settings and not know what my niche would be has helped me be good at what I’m doing now. I have at least a basic understanding of the needs of the nurses in all of the different settings I program for and my understanding of their work processes keeps me from wasting their time in meetings for them to tell me something won’t work. All of the programming I do is in a test environment and the doctors and nurses can work in that pretend environment until we have all the bugs worked out and the system does exactly what they need it to do. My husband would tell you that I live in a pretend environment most of the time at home too!!!
I miss taking care of patients but I know what I do has an impact on patient care and the better I do my job and the better system becomes, helps make all of the nurses at GVMH more efficient and better able to care for their patients. So next time I’m asked, maybe I’ll say “Yes, I did help take care of your Mother”.