1. Backonja, Uba PhD, MS, RN

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With the evolving healthcare and informatics landscape that is increasingly integrating health information technologies, there is an increasing need for nurse informaticists who are leaders and nurse leaders with informatics training.1 There has been growth in the number of chief nursing informatics officer and other nursing informatics (NI) leadership positions in many healthcare organizations and systems.1,2 However, we find ourselves in a position where there are not enough people with nursing, informatics, and leadership education and training to fill these roles. Therefore, as an Alliance for Nursing Informatics Emerging Leader, I worked with two mentors to determine how emerging leaders, existing leaders, and professional organizations can address this need for NI leaders.



Nurse leaders are those who "elicit effective performance from others" through the "development of shared values, vision, and expectations to enhance their organization's planned goals and overall effectiveness."3(p35) Nurses often engage in these leadership activities within hospitals, community-based organizations, public health, and government from the local to the federal level among other organizations.4


What is increasingly needed are nurse leaders with education, training, and experience in informatics. Nursing informatics leadership is defined as encompassing nursing leadership qualities in addition to engaging in interdisciplinary work to identify, implement, use, and evaluate health informatics technologies.5-7 Leaders in nursing informatics are essential to the decisions regarding informatics solutions that are considered for integration into care, how to evaluate and improve existing informatics solutions, and other critical activities that support efficient and effective use of technology in patient care.8 For example, in the most recent Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society NI Workforce Survey,1 the top responsibility of nurse informatics professionals was reported to be system implementation and optimization. However, there are not enough people who have the blend of nursing, leadership, and informatics training to fill these needs. A potential contributor to this could be the lack of organized support needed to encourage nurses whose personal and professional growth leads them to become a nurse informatics leader or a nurse leader with informatics training.



This topic-how to support an NI leadership pipeline-was something I have been very interested in since I started nursing school. As an undergraduate student, I did not view myself as being "leadership material"-I preferred to follow the vision and decisions of others. However, with the encouragement of faculty, nurse leaders, and mentors I had in my nursing programs and postdoctoral fellowship, I found myself seeking leadership training and experiences. These experiences eventually led me to be an Alliance for Nursing Informatics (ANI) Emerging Leader (2018-2019 cohort) after being encouraged to apply by a previous ANI Emerging Leader and my NI mentors. The support I received and chances I took on myself diving into leadership experiences, including the Emerging Leaders program, helped me understand that I indeed am leadership material.


My seemingly serendipitous path to leadership, as well as the paths my fellow NI colleagues and friends took to become NI leaders, piqued my interest in completing an ANI Emerging Leaders project to understand how to support emerging NI leaders through the NI leadership pipeline. This was a project of great interest to my mentors, Laura Heermann Langford, PhD, RN, an NI leader at Intermountain Healthcare and the University of Utah, and Patricia Mook, MSN RN NEA-BC CAHIMS, VP of Nursing Operations at Atrium Health. With their guidance and mentoring, I sought to understand (1) what individual emerging NI leaders could do to make their way through the NI pipeline and (2) how professional organizations and current NI leaders could support the NI pipeline. In this project, we reviewed Web sites for eight professional organizations that represented nursing, informatics, and leadership and interviewed and surveyed eight NI leaders from those organizations. I also recruited two other NI leaders involved in leadership development to review and provide feedback on findings from the Web sites, interviews, and surveys.



My mentors and I gained insights from our study that helped us come up with the following recommendations:


For Emerging Leaders

Engage in self-reflection. This is something recommended by our participants and leadership scholars to help emerging leaders understand their priorities and convictions, which is important in crafting a vision and making decisions as a leader.9 Self-assessment of your current strengths and areas to improve can help identify opportunities to seek out for personal and professional growth. There are several self-assessment tools to identify strengths and areas needing improvement.10-12 In addition, some strategies to bolster strengths and address areas of improvement include seeking mentors, getting involved in professional organizations, and seeking education and training that support informatics and leadership development.


For Current Nursing Informatics Leaders

There are several ways that current NI leaders can support the NI leadership pipeline. These include mentoring emerging leaders, advocating for the NI profession, and getting involved in efforts at professional organizations to support new nurses' education, training, mentoring, and networking. The leadership literature supports the recommendation to mentor emerging leaders, noting the importance of mentorship in supporting novices to become experts and leaders13 and supporting new nurses' career development.14


For Professional Organizations

There are opportunities for professional organizations to support emerging NI leaders and facilitate their development. The primary task is to make the best use of each organization's unique mission, strengths, and membership to provide training, education, mentoring, and networking opportunities. Opportunities made available should be equitable to support emerging leaders who face institutional barriers, discrimination, and biases.



As an ANI Emerging Leader who worked on a project with two NI leaders, I was able to identify strategies to support future emerging leaders. This work also had incredible value to me personally as an Emerging Leader. Being in the ANI Emerging Leaders program, I was able to experience the very recommendations that came out of the study we conducted. My mentors, drawing on their knowledge and experience as effective and influential NI leaders, provided me with advice, guidance, and insights that helped me think about both the project and my personal growth as a leader. The ANI board not only provided encouragement but also allowed me valuable networking opportunities within and outside ANI. I am excited to give back to the NI community through my project, and I look forward to the impact that the ANI Emerging Leaders program continues to have on my growth as an NI leader.



I would like to thank the Alliance for Nursing Informatics leadership and members for the opportunity to be an Emerging Leader and the support I received during the program. Special thanks to my mentors, Laura Heermann Langford, PhD RN, and Patricia Mook, MSN RN NEA-BC CAHIMS - your guidance and inspiration have been invaluable.




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