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Americans see a health professional just over four times a year on average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection. If so, the patient files of the U.S. Census estimated 1.4 million Sacramento County residents would require detailed documentation more than five million times each year.
One goal of the burgeoning field of informatics is to make processing medical records more accurate and efficient, and Registered Nurse Kathleen Guiney is in the thick of it. Guiney is a professional development specialist and nurse educator for Sacramento’s UC Davis health system. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees with a focus on nursing administration and oncology, and has worked in clinical settings and nurse management. Now the award-winning speaker and educator, who says that she “always loved going to school,” is serious about teaching nurses on informatics.
The importance of education in nursing
“Education is transformative,” Guiney says, and particularly important for nurses. She equates school and learning with travel, as there are opportunities to explore many new things and chances to grow both personally and professionally.
Many people do not realize how challenging an undergraduate nursing program is, says Guiney. Succeeding in something so rigorous helped build her self-confidence and made her successive schooling much easier to handle.
Guiney is appreciative of her undergraduate program for teaching her critical thinking and for the administrative and management skills learned in her master’s program, but it goes beyond that. “In school I was given support in many areas beyond the regular boundaries of academics,” she says.
The importance of informatics for today’s nurses
Informatics is “the fastest growing specialty in the nursing field,” Guiney says, and is a combination of the sciences of nursing, information and computers. Technology is being used to improve and reform health care, and computerized systems are key when it comes to the health records of patients. An informatics system makes scheduling appointments and documenting medical history, baseline testing data, medications, symptoms and treatment both efficient and accurate.
Guiney helped develop informatics curriculum for nurses and is a liaison for the training between all area nursing schools. She educates both nurses and nursing students on the technology that will be changing their careers in the present and future. “I love my job,” she says simply, “and my education has given me opportunities that I never expected to have.”
Valerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers animals and community issues. She has volunteered and worked for many organizations helping animals and people.
Her work can be found at Examiner.com.