1. Nicoll, Leslie H. PhD, MBA, RN

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Formal education in nursing informatics certainly is important (see related article), but continuing education fills an important niche, too. In a field wherein technology changes on a daily basis, it is vital for nurses to stay up-to-date on trends and information essential to their practice. Reading journals to keeping abreast of the literature is one strategy for doing this, but attending a conference or two every year also is important. In addition to that, conferences provide a wonderful opportunity for networking and meeting others who share your interests and concerns, something that is best accomplished in a face-to-face conference venue.


A wide variety of conferences are held annually, biennially, and even triennially. Many focus specifically on nursing informatics, whereas others are more broad-based, with colleagues from medicine, pharmacy, information systems, finance, and management in attendance. Some conferences are small and intimate, with a limit of 50 attendees. Others, such as HIMSS, host 20,000 participants and 600 vendors. Obviously, a variety of educational experiences are found between these two extremes.


Location varies too. Some conferences are held in the same location every other year. Others move around the country (and world), giving participants a chance to see some new scenery. When something is in your backyard, it might be easier for you to attend the event. In every issue, CIN publishes a calendar of events, and all of the conferences described later are always included. This should help you with your advance planning.


Education budgets grow tighter every year. Although it would be fun to attend multiple conferences on an annual basis, for most of us, getting to one (or maybe two) is more realistic. In nursing informatics, a core group of conferences have established themselves over the years. This is helpful for both short- and long-term planning. When a conference is in its 10th, 15th, or 20th implementation, there is some assurance that the organizers know what they are doing and will provide you with a good education value for your money. At the same time, they need to keep innovating to keep participants coming back, and given their longevity, this is happening too. Having a predictable schedule is also beneficial. I know many nurses who attend the same conference every year, whereas others like to vary their schedule depending on the advertised presenters, topics, and location.


The following section highlights what I consider to be the five core conferences in nursing informatics. These conferences share the following commonalities: all are offered every year; all are well established and well known; all offer continuing education credit; and all feature well-known, expert faculty in general and keynote sessions. They vary in date, location, and format. Some may include exhibits and vendors. Others include in-depth pre- and postconference workshops.


Table 1 lists an additional four conferences. These differ from the core conferences in that they may not be specific to nursing or may not be offered every year. Still, these are important education opportunities that should not be overlooked.

Table 1 - Click to enlarge in new windowTable 1 Additional Conferences in Informatics

American Nursing Informatics Association (ANIA) Annual Conference

Hosted by ANIA


When:Late April-early May


Where:For 2004 (to be determined). In 2003 it was held in Chicago, IL.


Who:ANIA members, novice and experienced informatics nurses, managers, and nurse educators


What:Peer-reviewed paper presentations (concurrent), invited speakers for keynote and plenary sessions, and posters


Other:Invited exhibitors


The ANIA conference started out as annual membership event and has grown as the organization has matured. In 2003, the organization hosted its 10th annual conference and ventured out of the Southwest for the first time. With a respectable showing in Chicago, plans are underway for a larger and more ambitious event in 2004. Possible locations include New Orleans or Las Vegas.


The format includes invited keynote/plenary speakers and concurrent presentations on a mix of topics such as clinical applications, education, and research. In 2003, the morning of the first day included three general sessions, followed by an afternoon of breakouts. Day 2 included the ANIA business meeting, more breakouts, and a luncheon plenary by Barbara Blakeney, President of the ANA. Vendor exhibits were open throughout the conference. A wine and cheese social provided a nice opportunity for networking.


For the 2004 conference, ANIA will have a call for abstracts. Watch their Web site ( for updates.


International Nursing Computer and Technology Conference

Hosted by the Rutgers University College of Nursing


When:Late March-early April


Where:In 2004, Washington DC


Who:Novice and experienced informatics professionals and nurse educators


What:Peer-reviewed paper presentations (concurrent), invited speakers for keynote and plenary sessions, and posters


Other:Pre- and post-institute in-depth workshops and vendor exhibits


The International Nursing Computer and Technology Conference is the "grandmother" of all nursing informatics events, hosting its 21st implementation in 2003. For many years, the conference was held in the metro-New York/New Jersey area, but recently, it has begun to move to more "traditional" conference locales such as Orlando, Denver, and Washington DC. The conference has had the opportunity to grow and allow more people to participate as it has been held in larger facilities. Similarly, after experimenting with a summer date for a few years, the organizers have moved the conference back to the spring. Although the dates for 2004 have yet to be finalized, plan on late March-early April. The conference usually is held over a weekend (eg, Thursday to Sunday), which is helpful for those traveling by plane, allowing them to squeeze in the required "Saturday overnight."


The conference follows the typical format, with invited keynote speakers and concurrent sessions selected from submitted abstracts. Abstracts for papers are due in mid-November, whereas the deadline for poster sessions usually is later in the winter. Check the Web site ( for updates. It is possible to submit abstracts online.


One attractive feature of this conference is that the sessions are organized into tracks: academic education, clinical implementation, distance education, administration, community, and general. This allows attendees to narrowly focus their education experience or sample a variety of topics.


Networking events include a dinner and a roundtable continental breakfast with informatics experts. Pre- and post-conference workshops round out the event.


Institute on Nursing Informatics and Classification

Hosted by the University of Iowa College of Nursing




Where:Iowa City, Iowa


Who:Nurses interested in designing, implementing, and evaluating nursing information systems and those who wish to know more about standardized nursing language. Note: Attendance is limited to 50 individuals.


What:In-depth workshops, panel presentations, concurrent sessions, and invited speakers for keynote and plenary sessions


Other:Site visits to clinical settings to see clinical information systems (CIS) and nursing information systems (NIS) implementations


This 3- to 4-day conference was first held in 1999 and has become an annual event. It grew out of research conducted at the Center for Nursing Classification and Clinical Effectiveness at the University of Iowa College of Nursing. It is designed to give participants an in-depth education experience in the use of standardized nursing languages, specifically Nursing Interventions Classification (NIC), Nursing Outcomes Classification (NOC), and North American Nursing Diagnosis Association (NANDA). By limiting enrollment to 50, participants are sure to have plenty of opportunity to ask questions, meet with others, and maximize their learning experience.


The Institute includes site visits to at least two clinical facilities to observe the implementation of the CIS and the incorporation of standardized nursing languages. In 2003, sites visited included the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and Genesis Medical Center in Davenport.


Unlike some of the other conferences highlighted in this article, the Institute does not have a call for abstracts. Faculty are selected on the basis of their expertise and knowledge in the area. Typically, approximately 50% of the faculty are researchers from the Center. Other faculty include informatics specialists and industry representatives from around the country.


Networking events include breaks, meals, and a unique social event such as a cruise on the Mississippi River with dinner and a speaker. For more information, contact the Program Associate, Jen Clougherty, at, 319-335-7119.


Summer Institute in Nursing Informatics

Hosted by the University of Maryland School of Nursing




Where:Baltimore, Maryland


Who:Nurse managers and executives, nurses interfacing with information systems departments, managers of nursing information systems, informatics educators, and other interested health care providers


What:Peer-reviewed paper presentations (concurrent), invited speakers for keynote and plenary sessions, and posters


Other:Pre- and post-institute in-depth workshops


In 2003, the University of Maryland hosted the 13th Summer Institute. As with the others, this conference has grown exponentially over the years. Nearly 400 people participated this past year, and the Institute shows no sign of slowing down.


The Institute includes a mix of invited speakers, concurrent sessions selected from abstracts, poster presentations, and pre- and postconference workshops. This conference likes to highlight "high-tech" with Web broadcasts of selected sessions. Attendees do need to register to watch the Web broadcast session, but it is a reduced fee as compared with the price of the entire conference. On the other hand, if you want to attend everything (in person), plan on being in Baltimore for a week.


Sessions are categorized as novice or intermediate, which allows attendees to tailor their learning experience. Although there are sessions for educators, the focus is largely on clinical informatics, trends, applications, and emerging technologies. Networking opportunities include breaks and meals. In 2003, a cocktail hour and dinner was held at the Baltimore Museum of Art, which was a particularly memorable event. Vendor exhibits also provide plenty of time to gather new information.


The call for abstracts typically goes out in the fall, with abstracts due in the late winter-early spring. Check the Web site ( for details and updates.


Weekend Immersion in Nursing Informatics (WINI)

Hosted by various sponsoring organizations, such as ANIA (December 2003)


When:Throughout the year


Where:Varies, United States and Canada


Who:Nurses preparing to take the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) certification examination in nursing informatics and others who want an in-depth overview of nursing informatics.Note:The course is limited to 50 participants.


What:Intensive 2- to 3-day educational event taught by three faculty certified in nursing informatics


The WINI is not a traditional conference. It is a 2- to 3-day immersion event designed to give participants an in-depth and intense education experience related to nursing informatics. The first WINI, held in 1995, was the brainchild of Susan Newbold, Kathleen Smith, and Carol Bickford, all leaders in nursing informatics. Since then, 40 WINIs have been held in locations throughout the United States and Canada. Newbold, Smith, and Bickford, all certified in nursing informatics, continue to serve as WINI faculty.


The content of WINI focuses on trends and issues in practice and provides an examination of nursing informatics theories, the impact of human factors, systems analysis, and design approaches. Methods for managing information databases and systems and for evaluating computer technology systems are included. Each WINI is designed for nurses who want to expand or clarify their working knowledge of nursing informatics. According to the organizers, "Experienced informatics nurses will find this program helpful as they prepare for the ANCC Nursing Informatics Examination. New informatics nurses will understand the breadth of knowledge and skills expected in their role." Content is presented via lecture and extensive discussion.


A WINI may be a stand-alone event, or it may be offered in conjunction with another conference, usually as a post-conference workshop. For example, this year, a WINI session followed the Summer Institute in Nursing Informatics, whereas stand-alone sessions were sponsored by Excelsior College (Albany, NY), MANI (greater Chicago), and AORN (Denver, Colo).


The WINI Web site ( has details on weekends scheduled through 2004. Available continuing education credit ranges from 11.7 hours to 20.4 hours, depending on whether it is a 2- or 3-day immersion. Although a WINI may be sponsored by an organization or college, you do not need to be affiliated with that organization to attend the event. If you are interested in a WINI in your geographic location, contact the hosting organization for registration information and fees.


If you are interested in sponsoring a WINI, contact Susan Newbold at for more information.