• Type to search or press enter for full results.
Type to search or press enter for full results.

 

 

Taking the Leap into Nursing Informatics
Episode

LaDonna Grace, Senior Clinical Consultant Population Health at Cerner Corporation

Taking the Leap into Nursing Informatics

Welcome to the first episode of The Outcomes Rocket – The Future of Global Informatics Podcast!

 

We are honored to have a colleague and friend, the incredible LaDonna Grace! She is a registered nurse and nurse informaticist with a lot of experience in healthcare organizations like Cerner. LaDonna reflects on her journey diving into nurse informatics and how she found a passion for it. Then she shares her thoughts on the future of nurse informatics positions, the process of building new solutions, and how nurse informaticists bring value to different fields in healthcare. LaDonna and TJ cannot stress enough about the power of mentorship in the nursing informatics community. 

 

Tune in to this first episode, and stay tuned for more top-notch guests coming up!  

Want to start your own podcast or offload the busywork of your current podcast to the pros?

Smooth Podcasting is the producer of our podcast. They help us deliver high quality audio, show notes, transcripts, podcast marketing, and so much more. We totally recommend them!

Check out Smooth Podcasting!

Get The Latest In Your Inbox

SUBSCRIBE

Taking the Leap into Nursing Informatics

About LaDonna Grace

 

LaDonna Grace is a Senior Clinical Consultant for the Population Health Deployment team. She has been employed with Cerner for 6.5 years. As an associate focused on clinician adoption and satisfaction, LaDonna assists healthcare organizations in optimizing their care delivery processes, governance, and communication structures, improving change management, achieving performance improvement, and driving measurable outcomes; both inside and outside of the electronic health record.

Before joining the Cerner team, LaDonna served as an inpatient bedside nurse at St. Vincent Seton Hospital for 3 years. There she offered best-practice care to a variety of critically ill patients. She was involved in several transitional care procedures where she supported the process of taking the patient off ventilation. She served an additional 2 years as a case manager at the same hospital where she collaborated with the care team on rounding, creating care plans, and discharge planning. She completed 2 years as a nurse informaticist at Ascension Health. She was assigned to the Northwest region; she trained and supported the implementation of the Athena ambulatory solution and provided continued support throughout the life of the solution.

 

In her current role, LaDonna has provided consulting services for numerous Cerner clients. These consulting engagements include services such as workflow assessments, organizational change readiness, behavior change management, providing recommendations for the optimization of clinical services using Cerner’s electronic health record, training activities, and post-conversion adoption and sustainment activities.

LaDonna also has broad knowledge and expertise in the Cerner HealtheIntent solutions that support outpatient care management and readmission prevention. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from Marian University; a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Marian University; and a Master of Science degree in Nursing from Walden University. She is licensed as a Registered Nurse in the State of Indiana. She is also a Certified Readmission Prevention Fellow.

 

When LaDonna is not working, she engages in various community services through women’s shelters and her church home. LaDonna is currently working on a project that will focus on providing relief to caregivers who are overwhelmed and physically/mentally exhausted. She hopes that providing this relief will improve the quality of care for those loved ones who rely on their families to take care of them.

 

Future of Global Informatics_LaDonna Grace: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

Future of Global Informatics_LaDonna Grace: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

TJ Southern:
Hey y’all. Welcome to the Outcomes Rocket, the Future of Global Informatics podcast. Through conversations with industry leaders and innovators, we discuss global health care informatics so that you can understand what it does, what it is, and how it shapes the healthcare of our future. I am your host, TJ Southern. Let’s get started!

TJ Southern:
All right, y’all! Thank you for joining us today, coming to the Future of Global Informatics podcast. Today, I am so excited as we have a friend of mine, a colleague of mine, she is just absolutely phenomenal, her name is LaDonna Grace. So we have LaDonna Grace gracing the mic with us today. So, LaDonna, tell us a little bit about yourself and the work that you do for your organization.

LaDonna Grace:
So I am a registered nurse by background, we always like to remember that, so many people forget. So my background is nursing, I started nursing back in 2009 or 10. I can’t remember the exact dates, I think we graduated in 2010.

TJ Southern:
Well, in 2009. Yeah, we sure did!.

LaDonna Grace:
I started nursing back in 2009 working for Ascension Health, where I was bedside nurse for three years and then moved from bedside nursing to case management for an additional three years. And during that time is when I decided that I would take the dive and get my master’s degree in Informatic, Nursing Informatics. And so I took that plunge and went through the program, and shortly after that, I became a nursing informatics through Ascension Health. And that led me to take another plunge because I like cleansing, I like deep diving. I took that, took that plunge again, and decided to apply for one of our largest EMR companies in the world and didn’t think that I was going to get that position, but I did. And I’ve been with that company for quite some time, working in population health.

TJ Southern:
Yeah. So LaDonna, may I mention that she works for one of the largest EMRs in the country and that is actually Cerner. So I know that some of you guys out there have heard of Cerner. You know, it’s normally mentioned with Cerner, Epic, Allscripts, right? But LaDonna works for Cerner. She is a population health clinical informaticist or nurse informaticist.

LaDonna Grace:
They actually give it consulting.

TJ Southern:
They give their we go. There we go. There we go. So what inspires you in nursing informatics?

LaDonna Grace:
Well, I think that, initially just, I had to kind of find my footing in nursing informatics because it’s different than bedside care. I originally got into nursing because I wanted, I felt like I was making a difference taking care of patients. But then when you enter informatics, you’re not necessarily dealing directly with patients, so then you have to find that thing that makes you feel fulfilled. And so for me, I do believe that being able to look at it from the perspective that even though I’m not doing direct patient care, the EMR is the consultations that I’m providing for population health is still affecting that direct patient care through other clinicians. So I’m just providing the tools and help building those tools by making sure that when our nurses are doing bedside care that the transition from something as simple as giving medications or providing education, that transferring that information over into a EMR, making the documentation easier, that is fulfilling and that I’m still helping them do their job.

TJ Southern:
So, you know, that is very interesting that you use that as one of the fulfillment points for you. What are some of the challenges that you see with being able to reach that goal or provide that, that filler, right? What are some of the challenges, some of the biggest challenges that you’ve seen with that?

LaDonna Grace:
I think one of the largest challenges is that you are in many aspects in corporate America, right? So you have to deal with a lot of the corporate stuff, such as you have a sales team that may set up that original sale and they may have said some things that may not have necessarily been accurate. So, you know, it’s like, yes, we can do this and yes, we can do that. But then when they actually, the client meets up with the actual team who’s doing the work, they find out that we as a team find out that we sold something possibly that we may not necessarily be able to do. So then we have to really get creative and trying to satisfy that client because we made a promise and now we’ve got to try to keep it. So that’s I think that’s one of the largest issues that I’ve experienced. And then the other thing is people taking, I would say, realizing that I’m still a nurse.

TJ Southern:
Mmhmm.

LaDonna Grace:
That I still, I still come with that nursing background. And even though I’m not still doing actual patient care, I understand who you are as a nurse or who you are and that clinician still trying to take care of the patient. And so you have to almost earn your worth, your value in the project with the client, because sometimes the clients say, oh, she wouldn’t know. You know, she’s not a nurse, yes, I am. I’m a nurse, I understand the challenges you guys are experiencing. And so just trying to make sure that you’re connecting that technical part with the clinical side and merging the two together, that’s I think, one of the most challenging parts as informaticist or in my world, a clinical, a clinical consultant trying to make sure that you as the clinician and consulting understand what the technical pieces, the capable, the actual capabilities versus what is needed by the clinical side. And then bringing all that together with your experience and consulting appropriately, … the biggest challenges.

TJ Southern:
Man, oh, man, oh, man. Like that could be a whole another podcast. Just by.

LaDonna Grace:
That can be.

TJ Southern:
On merging the two together. You know, that’s what happens when we come out of a bedside role into a technical role where a lot of people forget that we are nurses first, right? We use that nursing background, that nursing workflow, those …, how we’re evaluating and assessing patients, we use that first prior to going into the technical side. And you’re right, a lot of times when we get before these clients or these organizations, they discredit the nursing part and they’re just like, well, this is a technical part, she doesn’t know, she hasn’t been by the bedside, but the part that they don’t realize is that we keep up with the current state of affairs in nursing, right? Because that is our background, that is our background. That’s really a lot of our first loves. And we come over to informatics to help the technical teams or the tech teams or the IT teams understand that clinical flow. So we have to be split-brained at all times. We have to understand the tech, their language, what it is that they’re doing, right? And the things that they’re offering to the clients. But then we also have to say, hmm, is that really conducive to patient care? A nurse will be in here trying to document, is this really conducive to patient care for her? So man, that, that’s a good one. So.

LaDonna Grace:
And then when you, when you’re a clinician and you’re not technical like myself, you know, a lot of times I’m like, I’m technical, I don’t care about that, I just need to know, can you do it? … Give me the terminology behind it, just can you do this? So I remember that.

TJ Southern:
That is. Oh, that is true.

LaDonna Grace:
Right. Well, I try. I’m, and now that I’ve been in the game for a little while, I, I’m trying to really dive more into the IT part and try to understand what it is that they’re doing. Although I don’t necessarily like it, but I will do it.

TJ Southern:
So what current opportunities do you believe will exist for nursing informatics? And I’m going to give you a little preference to this question because I have been looking out currently for nurse informatics jobs. As you know, when we started years ago, I’ve actually been a nurse informaticist now for about 15 years, then have, have had my MS in for about 11 years. So when we started years ago, there was not this explosion of nurse informaticist positions, right? Remember, we actually had to kind of go through the gauntlet that they wanted a master’s, they wanted you to have so much experience, they wanted you to have this. But now I’m saying that all of these organizations are realizing how valuable a nurse informaticist is to have on a team. So what do you think? What type of opportunities exist either currently or do you believe that will exist in the future?

LaDonna Grace:
Well, you know, currently you will find a lot of the nurse informaticist coming in on to the scene prior, or not prior to but at the time when we’re engaging with the client, right? Because by this time we already have a solution in place and now it’s just a matter of going through that whole implementation process. In the future, I see nursing informaticists being brought into the scene prior to even implementation, I think that we are going to, they’re going to find value in having us on board as they’re creating the solutions, because now we’re going through this whole process, like you said, where they say, okay, here’s the ITPs, this is with the solution can do. And then we as the nursing clinicians informaticists, we start doing our critical thinking and we say to ourselves, does that make sense? Well, if they would have, if they would have brought us on as they was building.

TJ Southern:
Yes.

LaDonna Grace:
The solution or the product, then some of those things wouldn’t have to be addressed, post-build. And so I think that we will find those positions opening up for a consultant for creating products so that they can get our buy-in before they actually create it, I see those areas being wide open. Another area that I think is growing and will continue to grow is the analytics, the analytics area, because now they’re looking for people who can analyze this data that we’re pulling. We have all this data that is available to us, and a lot of times the client does not have time to skim through and point out and figure out all of this data that is coming into their systems. And I think that an analyst is going to be important and they’re going to want someone with experience again in nursing or any type of clinician that can be able to translate, you know, where we’re at with this, be able to identify those areas of disparities or be able to say, this is, your diabetes program is not as effective as you thought it was because you have all these diabetics over here who are having problems with insulin and they’re showing up in the ER because they didn’t know how to take their insulin. So I think being able to analyze the data and pull that information out and present that to the client is going to be effective moving forward into the future because they’re going to need someone because they don’t have the time, they’re too busy doing the patient care to, you know, to even dive into those areas.

TJ Southern:
So I’m going to, I’m going to give you a round of applause right now. I’m going to say amen to that, because that is the, that is the one thing actually, when I went to HIMSS earlier this year, that was the one thing at hims that I made sure that I voiced, you know, and I voiced it very, very clear and loud. Nursing informaticists have to be at the forefront of what is going on, especially when you’re using an EMR that is built for clinicians to use. Once we have all these data points, we have to have someone that has a clinical background to translate, analyze, decipher all of this information. And that is where I believe the Nurse Informaticist role will go next, right? When we, when we first became nurse informaticists it was, oh, we need to implement all of these EMRs due to the high-tech act that was coming down, right? What we were doing is we were finally making sure that clinicians were using the EMRs appropriately to government standards, right? Now we’ve gotten all that out the way. Ok, now how did we properly use this? So yes, I, I am with you 100% and I totally agree to everything that you said and I am waiting, I cannot wait to see what the future holds for nurse informatics because as you know now, you know, our education systems, our universities are now starting to get flooded with nurse informaticists, right? When you and I started years ago, there were only like a handful of schools that had that.

LaDonna Grace:
That’s right!

TJ Southern:
… programs, right? So now, we, you have all kind of schools that have nurse informaticists programs. So how do you think that we can support new nurse informaticists or student nurse informaticists transitioning into nursing informatics roles within these various organizations? How do we support them? How do the, how do the older ones pass the torch per se?

LaDonna Grace:
You know, that is a good question. And I think that the only thing that I can think of is, you know, creating a mentorship program that will support all of those new graduates coming into the system. I know, you know, when I first started in informatics, I was just kind of filling my way. You know, I didn’t really, I didn’t really, you know, I know what I learned in school. But to transfer that over to a real job, it was really overwhelming. Like, okay, what am I really supposed to be doing here? And, you know, sometimes organizations, they hire you and they expect to, to just hit the floor running, not realizing that you were a nurse first. And so now what you’ve done is you have combined some IT education, some, you know, analytics, and just a whole, a whole handful of things that you are not accustomed to unless you were in corporate prior to that point, and now you just don’t know how to juggle it. And you begin, you become very overwhelmed very quickly. So having a mentorship program and specifically for that cause, I think what kind of ease some of that stress and anxiety that comes with starting a new position from nursing into a new world and just have somebody that can say, hey, don’t worry about it, we got you, we support you. And I can say that, you know, I didn’t get that coming from Ascension, but in Cerner, especially in the division that I work for, we have that, we have that now. We have those mentors in place and we just support each other. You know, you can call anybody up at any point in time and say, hey, I’m drowning over here, I don’t know what I’m doing, I got a meeting coming up, you know, I don’t want to make a fool of myself, tell me what to do and you get that support. So yeah, mentorship is definitely the answer.

TJ Southern:
So I’ll go ahead and let our guests in on a little secret. As I stated at the top of the podcast, I’ve known LaDonna for quite some time. Her and I went to school together, we were both graduates of Marian University back in 2009, and I was actually the one that pushed LaDonna, pushed her off of the deep end to go into nursing informatics. And when we did that, I actually started a mentorship program just for her and another student that we were presenting at the same time. And that actually, we did that in, what, 2014.

LaDonna Grace:
2014.

TJ Southern:
Somewhere around there?

LaDonna Grace:
2014, 2015, somewhere over there, yeah.

TJ Southern:
Yeah. So from that aspect, that’s where we got informatics preceptors. So we actually have in August, it’s actually launching August the 28th, we have Informatics Preceptors, which is a nursing informatics mentorship program to bridge the gap for those nurse informatics that are coming from the school into the real world. So we want to be able to help them cross that bridge as they go across. So, yes, you are absolutely right. I experienced it myself when I went into nursing informaticists. I mean, there were many times you guys called me and was like, what is it that you’re actually doing because you really not working?

LaDonna Grace:
Yeah, you do get that a lot.

TJ Southern:
So I had to explain and keep explaining what it is that I do because people think it’s a mystery. They don’t, they, people still really don’t know that there is a such thing as a nurse informaticist out there. So you are absolutely right. I totally agree with you. We do, we have informatics preceptors that we are launching 8.28 for our new nurses that are coming out of school. They need that very last little bit, that preceptorship. We precept them and mentor them into their career path. So what are you most excited about as it relates to nursing informatics in the near future? What excites you the most?

LaDonna Grace:
What excites me the most? Well, right now, Cerner is going through some changes within the organizational structure. And I feel like with us going through this organizational change, it’s going to open up a lot of opportunities that we otherwise would not have been given. But yeah, just those new things that are coming up, I think I’m really excited about it. Again, it brings on a whole nother level of anxiety, of the unknown, just like you start, you know, when I started out in my position, it’s starting, I’m starting to get that feeling again, like, oh God, what’s next? What’s next? But it is exciting. It is exciting, it’s that, it is happening. And I think that it’s going to be a great transitional move for the company overall.

TJ Southern:
Well, you know, I am always excited about where it is that you go because I know wherever you go, there’s going to be excellence with that. That’s one thing about it is that you bring longevity and you bring excellence. So I enjoy both of those things. All righty, so what needs to be talked about more in order to bring awareness to the role of informatics? So remember, we talked about, you know, people a lot of times don’t know that we’re informaticists, right?

LaDonna Grace:
They don’t. And they don’t know what that means, do they?

TJ Southern:
They don’t know what it means, right? So how do you think or what do you think we can do to bring awareness to this role so that not only the general public knows that we’re here, but that organizations understand that we bring value, that we can add value to their organizations.

LaDonna Grace:
Wow. That’s a, that’s a big question, TJ, because, I mean, you know, here we are years, several years later, and we’re still talking about how we can educate people about nursing informatics. And I think it comes in, I think it starts with our passion for the job within itself, right? So, you know, when you talk about your physician, your role as a nurse informatics, if you talk about it with excitement and a passion, then it kind of triggers other nurses to say, hmm, you know, maybe I should explore this a little bit more. I feel like we’re now competing with nurse practitioners. I think that lately I’ve seen the trend. Everybody wants to become a nurse practitioner. And so me being the nursing informatics that I am, informaticist that I am, I am competitive, right? So, you know, yeah, we’re going, I’m going to be a nurse practitioner going back to my MP and I was like, but why? And so I always try to build up what I do versus with an old nurse practitioner can do even though their jobs are just as valuable.

TJ Southern:
Yeah.

LaDonna Grace:
But because I don’t want more nurse practitioners to be out there than there are nursing informaticist, I try to downplay the nurse practitioner position, it’s like oh no, this position over here that I’m in, I have so much more to offer, … To travel and you know, I know there’s a lot of autonomy in my job and I just speak to the things that are positive that comes with the job. And I try not to mention some of the the little things that irk us so badly. So, you know, and then I have the opportunity to deal yet mix and mingle with a lot of students that are coming out of college because I still have a whole nother generation behind me. And whenever I see a young lady who says, hey, I think, I’m thinking about nursing, even from the high school level, I always say, well, you know, have you considered nursing? And when I have those conversations with them, I even go beyond nursing, beyond your BSN, you know, consider that your master’s in nursing informatics and these are the benefits and things of that nature. So you have to just start talking about it. You have to have a passion for it yourself and then just kind of spread that love and let people know, we are out here, we’re doing great things and we love our job.

TJ Southern:
Absolutely. I could not have said it any better. When I tell you I am absolutely fired up for nursing informatics, it is my passion, it is my core. Anyone who talks to me knows that nursing informatics changed, absolutely changed my life. So I would recommend that anyone who is thinking about becoming a nurse informaticist, that you take the leap, as LaDonna did, and dive into it. Dive into it. Well, thank you so much for giving us your time today. It was an honor as well as a pleasure. I am sure that you and I will be talking more. I will definitely bring you back in on the show to just be able to talk. And, you know, we can just kind of hang out and do a couple of sessions here on the show. So.

LaDonna Grace:
Well thank you for having me!

TJ Southern:
You are so welcome!

TJ Southern:
Guys, thank you for listening to the Outcomes Rocket the Future of Global Informatics Podcast. For more information on topics related to informatics or finding talented informaticists for your organization, please visit www.Beryllus.net. That is www.B E R Y L L U S.net. Thanks again, guys. See you later.

Sonix is the world’s most advanced automated transcription, translation, and subtitling platform. Fast, accurate, and affordable.

Automatically convert your mp3 files to text (txt file), Microsoft Word (docx file), and SubRip Subtitle (srt file) in minutes.

Sonix has many features that you’d love including share transcripts, enterprise-grade admin tools, upload many different filetypes, automated translation, and easily transcribe your Zoom meetings. Try Sonix for free today.

 

Things You’ll Learn:

  • Nurse informaticists don’t have direct contact with the patient, but they are in charge of a lot of the behind-the-scenes work. 
  • Nurses have a great multi-tasking brain that can take care of several things at the same time. 
  • Nurse informaticists can analyze data clients don’t have the time or knowledge to do. 
  • Mentorship is one way of growth that we all need to explore. 
  • Talking with excitement about something will create curiosity in people. 

 

Resources: