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Nutrition Informatics Blog



What do you do for a living?

Guest Author:  Amy Miller, RD, RAC-CT (Amy is a member of ADA's Nutrition Informatics Committee)

What do you do for a living? 

I always struggle on how to answer this question.  “Clinical Informaticist” is my job title and for some reason no one ever knows  what that is, even in this day and age, 2010 almost 2011-- where technology has taken over in almost every aspect of our lives.  Is it sometimes easier to say I am an RD?  Absolutely not!  I am a Registered Dietitian who is a Clinical Informaticist and would love to share my story on how I ended up here.

I was the RD for a non-for-profit Long Term Care (LTC) organization in upstate NY for more than six years.  I always felt very fortunate to work for this organization, as they are very leading edge and always ahead of their time as far as technology goes in LTC.   The corporate leaders in this organization had a vision back in 2006 that an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) was needed.  They formed a committee to search for the “perfect” vendor software and only took a year to find it. 

Little did I know that I would soon be part of there vision.  They were looking for clinicians in multiple disciplines (not just nursing) that were already employees who had advanced computer skills and shared their love for technology.   Well, this is how I was discovered; I was one of the first clinicians to ask for a mobile device instead of a desktop computer and a PDA to run our nutritional software program on when I was on the units early in 2001.  This concept was foreign to most of our other disciplines and most shied away from the technology-- but I embraced it. 

There were three of us technology “Geeks” that stood out and shared the same passion and vision as our corporate leaders.  We were promoted to the corporate office as CI’s (Clinical Informaticists) with a job description that was a work in progress.  What a scary feeling!  Our team consists of me as the RD, an RN/RD, and an RN. 

So how did we implement an EMR?  I have to say starting out was a little bumpy as none of us had done this before.  In a nut shell we worked together and with our vendor to customize almost every part of the EMR to fit our organization. 

We implemented one to two modules at a time with large group trainings, small group trainings and one-to-one follow ups.  We have written instructions for every section of the EMR on our intranet.  I am part of the 24/7 support for the end users.  We train all new users and always are re-training old users.  My favorite part of my job is testing new EMR functionality (or what the system can actually do) for our vendor.

So when I am asked what I do for a living, I proudly say I am an RD who is a Clinical Informaticist. 

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Comments (3):
1/26/2011 7:25:59 PM by Curt Calder

I am right there with you Amy! My official title is a Clinical Information Systems Analyst, but I am an RD who is a clinical informaticist. I tell that to family, friends and co-workers, but it always confuses them. It usually takes a one or two minute deeper explanation. They usually still don't understand but nod politely in the affirmative! :) My path took me through a number of electronic initiatives as a practicing nutrition support RD and CNM. Then as CNM, I designed a nutrition EHR to be used in our hospital system and that pretty much sealed my informatics direction starting in 2001. Since that time I have done implementation, analysis, support and many other tasks for departments of our hospital and groups associated with our hospital system. It is very engaging work. I can't imagine doing anything else. So I suppose there are a number of us who can commiserate on confusion about the work we do, but at least we understand each other. That made the recent AMIA 10 x 10 class an enjoyable experience - a group of 40+ people who spoke the "same language". I chuckle inside when I think of Elaine Ayres description: Nutrition Informatics Registered Dietitian ("NIRD"). While I won't put that on a bumper sticker, I know I am one of the group.

1/31/2011 6:38:38 PM by Ivonne Cueva_1

I'm a consultant in clinical informatics. Having worked with standardized terminologies since finishing my PhD, I decided to take the hard road and am completing a MS in Clinical Informatics and Patient Centered Technology. I've found that working in this field requires a skill set that includes not only technology (I've taken courses in coding, database management, evaluation and implementation) but also strong knowledge of healthcare systems and how they work, interpersonal skills, and quality management. I'll graduate this winter and am resisting the pull to do post-doc work in user-computer interactions. All too often the IT side of the house wants to tell the clinician what to do when it comes to user interface. I love the work I do!

2/1/2011 1:45:20 PM by Ivonne Cueva_1

Curt and Pam, Thank you for sharing--this helps others in the profession understand the many options available. With the present shortage of health information technology/systems experts, the skills you both have are timely and critical. Lindsey

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