Polun Chang, PhD

Current affiliation: Professor, National Yang Ming University, Taiwan/ROC

Education: BA in 1986 in Taiwan, National Tsing-Hua University; PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison, in Industrial Engineering

How I describe my work to those outside the field …

I teach and inspire people to better use technology to improve their profession.

Years of experience …

I began to focus on informatics starting in early 1990s and in clinical informatics in 2000, so that adds up to almost 20 years.

Why informatics?

Because I am an industrial engineer, in my professional training, we are trained to use technologies to work with people, to improve their performance, to get better outcomes in more efficient ways. It was a natural move to become interested in informatics, because it helps to do just that.

What are your ambitions? At the end of your career, what do you hope to have accomplish?

I am a country boy. I grew up in a small town. Starting from when I was a child, I wouldn’t say I had an ambition to do something great or something big. I just thought that I wanted to do something different. Kids who grow up in a big city, like Taipei, have easy access to resources quite easily but in a small town, we need to get these resources ourselves. We have to use our ingenuity. This makes us independent.

Now I am a professor in Taiwan, and in our Chinese culture, a professor has a very high social status in society. We are well respected there. With this respect comes a special responsibility, not only to do research but also to inspire students and the younger generation, and even to serve as role models for society. In Asian countries young students focus a lot on doing well on exams, so they can enter the best universities and it is quite competitive. Because there is so much pressure, many of the younger generation give up their dreams. I don’t like this. Therefore, my career goals are to encourage and inspire our young generation dare to be different, learn to be independent, and listen to their own hearts for their dreams.

Who or what are your key sources in the informatics field?

My nurse and physician students and my colleagues in AMIA. The first time I attended an AMIA meeting, I had just gotten my degree and even though I had gotten my degree in the United States, my major is Industrial Engineering, so at the very beginning, I knew nobody. There were so many attendants, but I felt so lonely.

I was very fortunate to meet Drs Edward Shortliffe and Robert Greenes in 1998. In 2002, Dr. Shortliffe was the chair of the biomedical informatics program at Columbia University. I paid a visit to his program, and he introduced me to his colleagues. One professor in particular, Suzanne Bakken inspired me to start focusing on nursing informatics. After then, so many great nursing informatics experts in AMIA such as Virginia Saba, Marion Ball, Judy Murphy, Rosemary Kennedy, Susan Newbold, Charlotte Weaver, Pat Walker, Patricia Dykes, Brian Gugerty, Patricia Brennan, Bonnie Westra, Connie Delaney, etc. Those in IMIA NI SIG, such as Hyeoun-Ae Park, Heimar Marin, Robyn Carr, Kaija Saranto, Peter Murray, etc., have been so kind to guide and to suppost me. Of course, our excellent nurses in Taiwan, such as Evita Hou, Chelsey Hsu, Joanna Feng, Jessie Kuo and many others are really champions to help me make great things happen.

What are your hobbies? What do you do for “fun”?

I have a lot of toys. I like toys. They are product of creativity and imagination. I study how the toy was designed and how the ideas could be used in informatics to design better systems. For example, one of my favorite movies is The Transformers, and its main idea is that same components of cars can be transformed into robots, a totally different “specie.” The idea has been interesting enough, the movie is amazing, but the toys are even more astonishing! We can really make this transformation! That is one of cases that I told my students what future clinical information systems could be …

Toys promote creativity, and when we play with them we can be inspired to create something different, something that has never been seen before. My office in Taipei is pretty fully occupied by lots of toys and many students and professors are surprised to see so many when they drop by my office. They call it a toy house. Toys can really “create” things. This year I am working with Lego. Lego is an old company in Denmark, but they keep on evolving and changing the concepts about their products. For example when I visited to the Lego store in Chicago for AMIA2013, I did enjoy seeing them using Lego blocks to build various signature buildings in Chicago. Good informatics should do the same thing too!

Articles that spotlight my research interest …

My article is about the human computer interaction design – how to make devices with small screen display, 10 years ago they were PDA, easy to use by nurses and physicians, and the elderly I am working with. I successfully design a set of principles to make a complex documentation on hand held devices easily used by our nurses.

(Here is the reference: Chang P, Hsu CL, Liou YM, Kuo YY, Lan CF. Design and development of interface design principles for complex documentation using PDAs. CIN-Computers Informatics Nursing. 2011;29(3):174-183.)

AMIA is important to me because …

20 years ago I was alone when I first went to AMIA, but now I feel quite comfortable and have so many friends. AMIA is my professional home. They support me. When I have ideas, I can easily find supporters from this group. I joined the Nurse Informatics Working Group and they have helped me a lot. I am the chair for the 2014 International Nurse Informatics Congress in Taipei, but without support from them I don’t think I could do it by myself.

I am involved with AMIA …

My main involvement right now is to connect AMIA NI WG to nursing leaders in Asian countries, particularly Taiwan and China. Lessons learned from AMIA here are good examples for people from Asia, because right now, they are catching up. But they need to catch up intelligently. They don’t need to take the wrong roads again if the lessons learned here could be shared to them. I should be able to do it through better organizing the NI2014 with the participation from here!

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