Education: PhD University of Arizona Nursing Informatics/Systems, 2008. MSN University of Pennsylvania Nursing Pediatrics/Critical Care, 1994. BSN Arizona State University Nursing, 1988.
How I describe my work to those outside the field
I teach nursing students who are interested in advanced practice how to incorporate technology into their practice and then work with students who are choosing to do research within informatics. My own research is focused on trying to increase our understanding of how the electronic health record functions as a communications tool to increase patient safety and improve patient outcomes.
Years of experience
12 years overall: I started as an analyst in the Fall of 1999, left the hospital environment to finish my PhD in 2005, and in 2008 moved to Colorado, where I am now on faculty at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, College of Nursing.
I was working as a nurse practitioner in the pediatric intensive care unit in a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, and found myself being given software programs that were being implemented in the unit to test--to see how it worked and to help the nurses use it. I liked doing that, and I started to think maybe there is a way to do this full-time. I grew up in an IBM family, so computers always made logical sense to me. One Sunday afternoon, I happened to look in the want ads. I don’t know what made me do this – I have never done this for any of the jobs I’ve ever had. But there it was, they were looking for somebody with nursing, education, and computer science experience. I tossed my hat in the ring, and got the job. I was there for three years, when I heard about informatics at a meeting in Salt Lake City. That was the first time I had heard the word, and that’s when I realized that that was what I had been doing. I had been building, testing, implementing, and maintaining clinical systems, and giving the CEO of the hospital the insights as to which systems we should and should not buy, the criteria for key strokes to each screen, all of that, and I had no idea that this was informatics. It just grew from there, and I realized that this was what I wanted to do. This is the kind of work that I really enjoy, bringing nursing into the world of computers and information management.
What are your ambitions? At the end of your career, what do you hope to have accomplished?
I tell my students this: When I am done, I will think of myself as successful in this career if a couple of things have happened: 1) At least one patient had a better outcome as a result of my research; 2) at least one student sees something in this area of research and picks up the torch and keeps it going. If those two things happen, I will say ‘OK, you can be done now’.
Who or what are your “key sources” in the informatics field?
One is the Nursing Informatics Working Group within AMIA. We have an Education Committee that has webinars and discussions, journal clubs, where members of the committee peruse the literature, pick an article or a discussion topic, find the people who are doing interesting things who are willing to talk about their work. I also read a great deal of the literature as part of my personal goals: the informatics, linguistics, and cognitive science literature. One thing I started doing as a doctoral student is [when] I read an article that moved me in some way, I e-mail the author and let him or her know that I found it fascinating, and that I had some questions. This has led to a form of networking that has been wonderful. I never dreamt it would become so successful, it was really meant to let somebody know, in the black hole of publishing, that I’ve read your work.
Articles that spotlight my research interests:
- Strengths and limitations of the electronic health record for documenting clinical events, Carrington, J. M. & Effken, J. A., CIN: Computers, Informatics, Nursing, Vol. 29, Issue 6, pp 360–367, 2011.
- Electronic Records Enhance Care Transitions for Elderly, Nelson J., Carrington J., AORN Journal Vol. 94, Issue 4, pp 348-361, October 2011.
- The Usefulness of Nursing Languages to Communicate a Clinical Event. Carrington, J.M., CIN: Computers, Informatics, and Nursing, In Press.
AMIA is important to me because…
AMIA provides me with a great deal of support. There are people who are members of AMIA who have led the path for all of us and who have made the most difficult hurdles bearable. It is an organization made up of people who are willing to share, guide, and mentor. Every year I go to the meetings and I seek out the people I know can guide me, teach me, support me, and they have never let me down. I could never imagine having gotten into informatics without being a part of AMIA.
I am involved with AMIA…
I have presented talks at AMIA and I’m also involved in NIWG. I also have reviewed abstracts of the presentations. It’s not enough to go and take everybody’s advice and guidance. You have to give back. That’s how I have chosen to give back, by being part of the leadership group, and support the doctoral students who are coming behind me.
It may surprise people to know…
I married a couple at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. When I lived in Arizona, some friends and I would hike down the Grand Canyon every year. One year, as we were planning the trip, my friends told me they wanted to get married at the bottom of the canyon and asked that I preside over the ceremony. It was, indeed, an honor. Yes, they are still married!