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I Did It! I Earned My Master’s in Nursing Informatics

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Specializes in Gastrointestinal Nursing. Has 29 years experience.

Am I to old to earn a Master's in Nursing Informatics?

The struggle is over, and I now have my Master’s degree in Nursing Informatics. Life has hit me with some rough incidents that knocked my legs out from under me, so it took me a bit longer than I originally anticipated. In my previous article "Getting My Graduate Degree: Is it Worth It?", I pondered: whether it would be worth it, was I too old, and what about the cost? I am ready to share my experience, the good, bad, and ugly.

I Did It! I Earned My Master’s in Nursing Informatics

About a year into getting my Master’s Degree, I wrote Getting My Graduate Degree: Is It Worth It? the article mentioned above about my experience up until that point. It wasn’t long after that, that my life turned upside down and inside out. School was both a welcome distraction and a pain in the ***. 

The work itself during the first three semesters was very similar to the management track. It wasn’t until about the fourth semester that the focus was on informatics. I did miss the in-class experience in the beginning. I thought that not having face-to-face interaction would somehow decrease the amount that I could learn. But in this day of technology, all things are possible. Face-to-face doesn’t have to mean that the person is in the room with you. And of course, with the emergence of Covid, the entire nation has learned to Zoom. We have become creative in the ways that we communicate, teach, and learn. 

The online WGU program utilized several approaches to teach, such as monitored - multiple-choice testing, research papers, and self recordings. I was expected to master all forms of media, which stretched my knowledge base (and my patience) of what I’m capable of. These skills have already helped me in my present job as Clinical Coordinator of a GI lab, and of course, prepared me for a future in informatics. 

Much of what I learned was based on Evidence-Based Practice (EBP). Nursing practice bases its principles on what has gone before us, and what is the most effective method that improves patient care. The proven best method becomes our standard of care. I learned how to choose peer-reviewed research as well as interpret the information that was given in the articles. Learning the APA method was a change for me, because I had used MLA in creative writing. At this point, I am confident in my ability to do technical and research writing. 

When I started studying coding, creating flow charts, dashboards, ERD, and much more,  it stretched my brain. At the beginning of constructing my flowchart, I had a complete meltdown. I think I even cried in frustration, but my course instructor gently talked me off the ceiling and walked me through it. The instructors did not tell me exactly what to do, but guided me to the right information. Now, I actually enjoy making a flowchart. I understand the purpose and have learned how to do the shapes and arrows in order for the flowchart to make sense. 

I feel that I learned a lot, so that made it worth it. My hospital reimbursed a lot of the tuition which was a huge help, and as far as my age - we are never too old. Why do we put limitations on ourselves? 

I do know one thing, I’ve never had a more stressful year in my personal life. I am getting a divorce after 37 years of marriage. I found out earlier last year that there was cheating, along with other ugly things. That will take me a long time to work through and because of Covid, the court date keeps getting delayed. Also, my oldest daughter relocated here from Michigan with her husband and five children. Three of those are under five. I love reconnecting with her and getting to know her husband.  They helped me in my worst moments by protecting me from my ex., and basically saved my life.  However, there is a noise level with the small children that made it very difficult to work on homework. 

Work proved to be added stress due to low staffing. I had a difficult time getting my work done because I often have to work on the floor. I love working on the floor, but I also have a large responsibility as the clinical coordinator to keep the place running. Also, we are doing a whole new build-out, which is absolutely amazing!  There has been a lot of work and time that goes into that as well. My staff is fantastic, and I couldn’t do it without them. 

For me, going back to school was worth it. I don’t regret any of it, because knowledge is power. What the future holds, only God knows. He has carried me through so many hardships, and I trust my future to Him. For now, I will rest in that.

As for my immediate future, I plan to continue redecorating my house and write creatively as well as for allnurses. I want to find myself, explore new things, and treasure my freedom. When Spring comes, I am going to grow as many herbs and vegetables that my property will hold. Gardening soothes my soul and makes me happy. 

Going back to school is a very personal decision, one that takes commitment, money, and time. No one can tell you how to live your life, just do what’s in your heart and follow your gut. 

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14 Comment(s)

LPN_Computer_Guy, LPN

Specializes in LPN. Has 6 years experience.

On 2/9/2021 at 9:50 AM, Brenda F. Johnson said:
About a year into getting my Master’s Degree, I wrote Getting My Graduate Degree: Is It Worth It? the article mentioned above about my experience up until that point. It wasn’t long after that, that my life turned upside down and inside out. School was both a welcome distraction and a pain in the ***. 

The work itself during the first three semesters was very similar to the management track. It wasn’t until about the fourth semester that the focus was on informatics. I did miss the in-class experience in the beginning. I thought that not having face-to-face interaction would somehow decrease the amount that I could learn. But in this day of technology, all things are possible. Face-to-face doesn’t have to mean that the person is in the room with you. And of course, with the emergence of Covid, the entire nation has learned to Zoom. We have become creative in the ways that we communicate, teach, and learn. 

The online WGU program utilized several approaches to teach, such as monitored - multiple-choice testing, research papers, and self recordings. I was expected to master all forms of media, which stretched my knowledge base (and my patience) of what I’m capable of. These skills have already helped me in my present job as Clinical Coordinator of a GI lab, and of course, prepared me for a future in informatics. 

Much of what I learned was based on Evidence-Based Practice (EBP). Nursing practice bases its principles on what has gone before us, and what is the most effective method that improves patient care. The proven best method becomes our standard of care. I learned how to choose peer-reviewed research as well as interpret the information that was given in the articles. Learning the APA method was a change for me, because I had used MLA in creative writing. At this point, I am confident in my ability to do technical and research writing. 

When I started studying coding, creating flow charts, dashboards, ERD, and much more,  it stretched my brain. At the beginning of constructing my flowchart, I had a complete meltdown. I think I even cried in frustration, but my course instructor gently talked me off the ceiling and walked me through it. The instructors did not tell me exactly what to do, but guided me to the right information. Now, I actually enjoy making a flowchart. I understand the purpose and have learned how to do the shapes and arrows in order for the flowchart to make sense. 

I feel that I learned a lot, so that made it worth it. My hospital reimbursed a lot of the tuition which was a huge help, and as far as my age - we are never too old. Why do we put limitations on ourselves? 

I do know one thing, I’ve never had a more stressful year in my personal life. I am getting a divorce after 37 years of marriage. I found out earlier last year that there was cheating, along with other ugly things. That will take me a long time to work through and because of Covid, the court date keeps getting delayed. Also, my oldest daughter relocated here from Michigan with her husband and five children. Three of those are under five. I love reconnecting with her and getting to know her husband.  They helped me in my worst moments by protecting me from my ex., and basically saved my life.  However, there is a noise level with the small children that made it very difficult to work on homework. 

Work proved to be added stress due to low staffing. I had a difficult time getting my work done because I often have to work on the floor. I love working on the floor, but I also have a large responsibility as the clinical coordinator to keep the place running. Also, we are doing a whole new build-out, which is absolutely amazing!  There has been a lot of work and time that goes into that as well. My staff is fantastic, and I couldn’t do it without them. 

For me, going back to school was worth it. I don’t regret any of it, because knowledge is power. What the future holds, only God knows. He has carried me through so many hardships, and I trust my future to Him. For now, I will rest in that.

As for my immediate future, I plan to continue redecorating my house and write creatively as well as for allnurses. I want to find myself, explore new things, and treasure my freedom. When Spring comes, I am going to grow as many herbs and vegetables that my property will hold. Gardening soothes my soul and makes me happy. 

Going back to school is a very personal decision, one that takes commitment, money, and time. No one can tell you how to live your life, just do what’s in your heart and follow your gut. 

Thanks for sharing your story. It certainly is challenging going back to school when you're a non-traditional student and dealing with work and family in the midst of it. I'm glad you made it through. I've considered Informatics in the past also because I'm and LPN with a background in Computer Science but I ended up choosing to go the IT route as I'm working on a MS in Cybersecurity.

I'm curious what jobs do you plan on going for now that you're finished with school?

RN-to- BSN, ADN, RN

Specializes in SCRN. Has 7 years experience.

Congratulations, great job!

I plan on getting into MSN Informatics this fall.

tnbutterfly - Mary, BSN, RN

Specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.

Congratulations, Brenda!  Keep us updated on where you go from here.  

Brenda F. Johnson, MSN

Specializes in Gastrointestinal Nursing. Has 29 years experience.

13 hours ago, LPN_Computer_Guy said:

Thanks for sharing your story. It certainly is challenging going back to school when you're a non-traditional student and dealing with work and family in the midst of it. I'm glad you made it through. I've considered Informatics in the past also because I'm and LPN with a background in Computer Science but I ended up choosing to go the IT route as I'm working on a MS in Cybersecurity.

I'm curious what jobs do you plan on going for now that you're finished with school?

I have been in contact with the Director of the Informatics dept. at my company. She knows that I'm interested and will let me know when a job opens. So that will involve Meditech and working with that to improve data gathering. I want to stay at the same company because of the good 41K match they do. So until I retire.....After that, I would like to work from home in some capacity. Your job sounds so cool! 

Silverdragon102, BSN

Specializes in Medical and general practice now LTC. Has 33 years experience.

Congratulations 

Congratulations.  Lots of things you've had to go thru but nothing can stop you if you persist and take it one step at a time.

LisalaRN99, BSN, RN

Specializes in Addictions/Mental Health, Telemetry.

I enjoyed reading your article! I am starting my last practicum in my online MSN program in Nursing Education. It has always been a career goal of mine to teach nursing in some capacity. 

I believe going back to school for my MSN is going to be worth it in the end. I had quit bedside nursing for home health nursing and quit altogether when the Pandemic hit.

I chose to stay in quarantine with my elderly mother. I do not regret this decision in the least. I will always cherish our time together. 

I am looking forward to landing a "first job" as a Nurse Educator.  

Congratulations on completing your MSN!

Kimberly Baron Honea, ASN, LPN

Specializes in OB/GYN. Has 13 years experience.

Congratulations!!

I was a LPN for 10+ years and finally got my RN a couple of years ago. I’m nearly finished with my BSN and am planning on getting my MSN in  Nursing Informatics (I have a BS in Computer Information Systems). I’m hoping I can use this degree to make my move away from the bedside in the next few years 😁

On 2/14/2021 at 2:15 PM, Kimberly Baron Honea said:

Congratulations!!

I was a LPN for 10+ years and finally got my RN a couple of years ago. I’m nearly finished with my BSN and am planning on getting my MSN in  Nursing Informatics (I have a BS in Computer Information Systems). I’m hoping I can use this degree to make my move away from the bedside in the next few years 😁

I have a computer science degree as well.  Can’t bring myself to automate human jobs though 

Kimberly Baron Honea, ASN, LPN

Specializes in OB/GYN. Has 13 years experience.

Not sure how getting a degree in nursing informatics is promoting automating human jobs 🤷🏻‍♀️
I see the charting programs we use and how redundant they are, how much time is wasted.  You can’t find an area to chart something important but have to chart another item in 4 different places. That’s one of the areas I am interested in. Being the go between with nursing and technology. Finding ways to work smarter, not harder. How to gather data and research and help improve patient outcomes. These are the areas I’m intrigued by.

Brenda F. Johnson, MSN

Specializes in Gastrointestinal Nursing. Has 29 years experience.

On 2/15/2021 at 11:28 PM, Ace Savanahh said:

I have a computer science degree as well.  Can’t bring myself to automate human jobs though 

Nursing Informatics is about creating easier, safer ways to gather information and do charting for nurses, not automate jobs

Brenda F. Johnson, MSN

Specializes in Gastrointestinal Nursing. Has 29 years experience.

On 2/16/2021 at 12:29 AM, Kimberly Baron Honea said:

Not sure how getting a degree in nursing informatics is promoting automating human jobs 🤷🏻‍♀️
I see the charting programs we use and how redundant they are, how much time is wasted.  You can’t find an area to chart something important but have to chart another item in 4 different places. That’s one of the areas I am interested in. Being the go between with nursing and technology. Finding ways to work smarter, not harder. How to gather data and research and help improve patient outcomes. These are the areas I’m intrigued by.

You are so right, the informatic nurse tries to find ways to improve charting and data gathering so that we aren't charting the same thing over and over