Job Spotlight! Nursing Informatics: Sara Winkle BSN, RN-BC Manager, Nursing Informatics

How did your nursing journey begin?

My grandfather spent a lot of time admitted to the telemetry unit at St Lukes on the plaza when I was growing up. He received excellent care. I enjoyed visiting him and was impressed with the staff that I encountered. In high school I volunteered at Independence Regional. I graduated from high school and decided to attend CMSU (now UCM) because they offered education and nursing degrees, I was interested in both. While in college I started working as a secretary/care assistant in the ER at CMH. Working at CMH helped me realize that I wanted to pursue nursing. I continued working every weekend while in college. Upon graduation the ER was not hiring new grads, but the PICU was. I worked for about 7 years in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit before transferring to Information Systems. 

How did you get your start in informatics?

Our hospital was purchasing Cerner Millenium software and the leaders of the hospital were looking for nurses to transfer into IS to assist with the customization of the software. I was approached by my manager to ask if I was interested. It came at a perfect time, as I was looking for a change. I was assured I could learn the technical pieces and that my clinical knowledge was what they were looking for. 
I worked for almost 16 years in an analyst type position. I received my technical training from Cerner. I started supporting inpatient nursing, PT/OT, infection prevention and control, pharmacy, and radiology documentation. I created, maintained the clinical documentation, and supported the end users with issue resolution. I transitioned to the ambulatory team after seven years. This team supported Cerner documentation but also many other applications that are used in ambulatory settings. One year ago I transferred to Clinical Informatics, we support end users as they learn how to document in Cerner, coordinating changes to the EMR, and providing education for those changes. We are involved when technology meets patient care.

What is your typical day like in this role?

I have several meetings with end users every day, for example, when we get new equipment like ECMO pumps or ventilators, I meet with the department that will be using the equipment to determine if our current build will meet their needs. If not, we determine what fields need to be added or changed. 
I also get to train new employees (nurses and care assistants) on how to document and find information in Cerner.

What is your work life balance like?

Since COVID, we have been working remotely. My position is autonomous. I am assigned several departments, processes and projects. I do come on site for new employee training, testing technical applications and go live support. I am hugely satisfied with my work/life balance. 

How can others pursue nursing informatics?

Find out what meetings your organization has where documentation changes are talked about and get yourself an invite. Our hospital has a monthly Clinical Documentation Advisory meeting. We discuss changes to documentation that affect many people. Attending on a regular basis will give you a better idea of what informatics is and if you are interested in it. Great resources for this career track are: Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society and American Nursing Informatics Association

Thank you Sara for sharing your nursing journey! If you are interested in sharing YOUR story, or know of someone you think should be featured-message me at DM on instagram @Nurses_KC

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