Health care and technology became more than closely interrelated in the 21st century.
Some years earlier, my attitude towards nursing informatics was rather skeptical, though I belong to those people who readily accept the innovations. With time, however, I understood that nursing informatics is responsible for the future of health care, though I still was unable to shape an adequate attitude towards it because I did not know what exactly this field involved. Information that I gained in this course has accurately shaped my attitude towards nursing informatics tuning my attention to such issues as the importance of informatics competence for nurses, the meaning of nursing informatics for patient safety, the easiness of data management ensured by nursing informatics, and the ability of nursing informatics to save more human lives; at the same time, I have understood that computer and information literacy incorporate the knowledge needed to apply nursing informatics in practice to develop my expertise.
First of all, much influence on my attitude towards nursing informatics was produced by my realizing the importance of nursing informatics for nurses. With the rapid development of information technologies, nurses have become much more than mere health care professionals. Nursing informatics has turned nurses into knowledge workers and, “with the advent of clinical information systems, specifically electronic documentation, and clinical decision support applications, every nurse can be contributing to the advancement of nursing knowledge on many levels” (McGonigle & Mastrian, 2008, p. 136). Currently, there is hardly a successful nurse that has no knowledge in these applications, which shows how vital it is for a nurse to be proficient in nursing informatics. This has proved to me that nursing informatics is more than important for nurses because it has a direct effect on their career development.
Secondly, my general attitude towards nursing informatics has changed as soon as I learned about its meaning for patient safety. Before entering this course, my knowledge about the relations between patient safety and information technologies was limited to the use of some applications that made patient treatment more effective. The information gained in this course enriched my knowledge with several concepts that showed me that nursing informatics is more than helpful when it comes to patient safety. Perhaps, the most important concept here is e-prescribing, the process that makes medical errors minimal: “Errors are reduced because problems with illegible handwriting are eliminated, and the system incorporates lists of patient allergies and other medications” (Hebda & Czar, 2009, p. 24). It is through these and the like innovations that my attitude towards nursing informatics has been changed.
Thirdly, the information about the easiness of data management has further contributed to shaping my attitude towards nursing informatics. One of the most important things for me as a nursing professional is to be able to access necessary data anytime and anywhere, especially in an emergency. Nursing informatics makes this possible because it significantly facilitates data storage, retrieval, exchange, cleansing, disposal, and, more importantly, ensures data security (Hebda & Czar, 2009). Presently, there is a variety of data entry systems and system checks that make all these processes possible. Besides, there are also many computer system safeguards, such as data cleansing technology, that help to collect and verify data. In this way, nursing informatics technologies facilitate the data verification process and, therefore, help to minimize fraudulent information, which is also extremely important in health care.
And fourthly, nursing informatics makes it possible to save more human lives, which is a primary objective for me as a nursing professional and which, consequently, changed my perception of nursing informatics. One of the most important concepts to discuss here is telehealth in which the nurses’ roles include “triage, interventions, consultation, surveillance, and follow-up” (Cherry & Jacob, 2005, p. 455). The value of telehealth for medicine, in general, is hard to overestimate; not only does it make the distance treatment possible (which is especially useful in an emergency), but it allows several groups of medical professionals to cooperate through communication via videoconference. This helps to get a consultation from a more qualified or experienced medical professional, which is useful in diagnosing patients with rare diseases. This information was crucial in shaping my attitude towards the necessity of nursing informatics.
It is also worth mentioning that this course gave me a perfect idea of the knowledge needed to apply nursing informatics to develop my expertise. This knowledge primarily consists of computer and information literacy. These types of knowledge will give me a great opportunity to use nursing informatics not only in nursing practice, which, however, is the most important for me, but in its other applications, including nursing administration, education, and research. Returning to the knowledge required to be computer literate, this knowledge, above all, consists in “familiarity with the use of personal computers, including the use of software tools, such as word processing, spreadsheets, databases, presentation graphics, and e-mail” (Hebda & Czar, 2009, p. 13). Hence, to apply nursing informatics effectively and to develop my expertise, I need not only to know personal computers well, but to constantly upgrade my knowledge because new software programs emerge daily and, though they are based on the already existing ones and often only the rudiments of computer knowledge are required to master these programs, some time still needs to be spent to familiarize with them. Therefore, constant upgrade of computer knowledge is what I need to succeed in the use of different applications of nursing information.
And finally, information literacy will also be useful for my application of nursing informatics. This type of literacy consists in the ability “to use digital technology, communication tools, and networks as tools to solve problems, to communicate, and to maintain a fundamental understanding of ethical and legal issues” (Hebda & Czar, 2009, p. 13). With regards to this, I should lay special emphasis on increasing my knowledge on the use of digital technologies and communication tools because they are most of all related to nursing informatics applications. Just as in the case with computer knowledge, this kind of knowledge also needs to be constantly updated due to constant technological development.
Thus, knowledge related to information literacy can also contribute to developing my experience in different applications of nursing informatics.
In conclusion, this course gave me access to invaluable information that helped to shape my attitude towards nursing informatics and its importance for health care. As I have noted, my attitude was changed once I realized how important the informatics competence is for nurses, how much nursing informatics means for patients safely, how it facilitates data management, and how many human lives it can save; to be able to apply nursing informatics in practice, however, I need to constantly update my knowledge of computer, as well as take care of my information literacy. Only then will I be effectively building my expertise in working with nursing informatics.
Cherry, B. & Jacob, S.R. (2005). Contemporary nursing: Issues, trends, & management. Amsterdam: Elsevier Health Sciences.
Hebda, T. & Czar, P. (2009). Handbook of informatics for nurses & healthcare professionals, Fourth Edition. London: Prentice Hall.
McGonigle, D. & Mastrian, K. (2008). Nursing informatics and the foundation of knowledge. Sudbury: Jones & Bartlett Learning.