Authors

  1. Newbold, Susan K. MS, RNBC, FAAN

Article Content

Informatics nurses and "wannabes" join informatics organizations for a variety of reasons. The organizations observed to be thriving are those that meet the needs of the members and possibly the nursing informatics (NI) community at large. Where are we headed with nursing informatics organizations in 2003 and beyond?

 

Nursing informatics organizations exist at the local, regional, national, international, and even virtual level. A person may choose to belong to one or several because the activities and member benefits vary. At the local level, the major benefit is the opportunity to meet with others, to network, and to share information and job leads. Regional and national groups provide expanded education offerings with well-known speakers and concurrent sessions on a wide variety of topics. International conferences and organizations provide the chance to meet with colleagues from around the globe. As regular readers of this journal know, nursing informatics activities and research are not just US phenomena!

 

My first overview article of nursing informatics organizations appeared in this journal in 1995. 1 At that time, there were 24 organizations throughout the world. By 1997, the list had grown to 38. 2 Since that time, some groups have disbanded for lack of volunteer support and low meeting attendance. New groups have formed and are thriving, whereas others are still trying to get off the ground.

 

With the perspective of time, it is apparent that groups develop primarily in one of two ways: as a freestanding organization or as a subgroup (eg, council, special interest group, working group) of a larger organization.

 

Currently active freestanding groups are listed in Table 1 (pages 278 and 279). Note that these run the gamut from very local groups, such as the PSNI, to organizations that serve entire countries. Three groups in the United States started out as primarily regional organizations, but have grown to national prominence. The American Nursing Informatics Association (ANIA) has its roots in California, but is growing rapidly, with approximately 500 members in 41 states and Canada. It has an annual conference and an electronic newsletter publishes four times a year. Recently, ANIA has started offering discounts on CIN as a member benefit and publishing association news in this journal.

  
Table 1 - Click to enlarge in new windowTABLE 1 Independent Nursing Informatics Associations
 
Table 1 - Click to enlarge in new windowTABLE 1 Independent Nursing Informatics Associations

The Capital Area Roundtable on Informatics in Nursing (CARING) is nominally based in the Washington DC area, but currently has more than 850 members in 47 states/territories and 12 countries. It publishes a newsletter and sponsors get-togethers and networking at other conferences, such as Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).

 

The Midwest Alliance for Nursing Informatics (MANI) has its home in the Midwest, but also is attracting national attention with more than 200 members in 12 states. Like ANIA and CARING, MANI has a newsletter and sponsors regularly scheduled education events. Most recently, MANI hosted a Weekend Immersion in Nursing Informatics (WINI). (See the accompanying article on continuing education for more details on the WINI program.)

 

The other model for organizations is the subgroup of a larger organization. Table 2 (pages 280 and 281) lists informatics organizations throughout the world (including the United States) that have nursing informatics units. Because nurses often are required to join the larger member organization, the membership dues may be quite a bit higher. On the other hand, these groups provide the opportunity to network with thousands, not just hundreds, of others who share the same interest in informatics. Also, the groups provide a multidisciplinary perspective on informatics, not just that of nursing, which can be a plus.

  
Table 2 - Click to enlarge in new windowTABLE 2 Informatics Organizations With Nursing Subgroups
 
Table 2 - Click to enlarge in new windowTABLE 2 Informatics Organizations With Nursing Subgroups

In the United States, a few of the state nursing associations have nursing informatics councils. One particularly active council is in North Carolina (their Web site can be visited at http://www.unc.edu/~dbailey1/CONI). You should check with your state associations to see if there is an active group. If there is not, perhaps you should consider starting one!

 

In my article in 1995, 1 I mentioned how Diane Skiba and I had discussed the benefit of local groups. We had pondered whether there would be times when the individual nursing informatics groups could unite. This has happened in Canada with the creation of the Canadian Nursing Informatics Association (CNIA). As noted earlier, there are three dominant groups in the United States. I continue to wonder about the possibility of bringing these groups together in a virtual nursing informatics organization. In fact, I recently posted a note on the CARING e-mail list tossing out this idea. I even suggested that CARING could serve as the umbrella organization. This caused a great deal of controversy, which I welcome! I invite the other nursing informatics groups to join the discussion of various options for sharing or uniting. As an example, CARING started sharing newsletters with the other nursing informatics groups several years ago.

 

Where shall we go from here? In what way shall we structure within the United States, North America, or the world to advance the individual informatics nurse further? Let us put our minds together to come up with some creative ideas. You can write me at snewbold@umaryland.edu or to the journal editor, Leslie Nicoll at Leslie@medesk.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

 

REFERENCES

 

1. Newbold S. An international virtual nursing informatics organization. Comput Nurs. 1995; 13( 5):207, 213-214. [Context Link]

 

2. Newbold SK. Update on virtual nursing informatics organizations. Comput Nurs. 1997; 15( 3):122-125. [Context Link]