1. Newbold, Susan K. MS, RN, BC, FAAN, FHIMSS

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CARING is a national nursing informatics organization that was born nearly 25 years ago in the Washington, DC, area but now has international influence. It is active in promoting education, networking, and job opportunities.



Capital Area Roundtable on Informatics in NursinG (CARING) is an organization that promotes the delivery of quality healthcare through the integration of informatics in practice, education, administration, and research, with a focus on nursing. Now nearly 25 years old, CARING has grown to more than 1200 members and has expanded far beyond the capital "beltway" to include members from 50 states and 22 countries. The organization strives to provide its members with a variety of services and benefits, including the following:


* providing educational experiences with contact-hour events


* publishing educational and informational articles


* acting as a clearinghouse for seminars, positions, and speakers


* making available a professional network for healthcare information systems professions




Founded in 1982, CARING was originally organized by nurses from the greater Washington, DC/Maryland/Virginia area in the United States to provide a forum for the advancement of automated healthcare information systems. There were no formal education programs for nurses-only classes by vendors and on-the-job training.


Early meetings were held frequently-almost monthly-in the metropolitan Washington, DC, area. Newsletters were introduced to help announce meeting minutes and organizational updates.


The influence of CARING quickly grew beyond the Washington, DC, area as other nursing informatics groups were initiated and became part of the collaboration with the assistance of CARING members. Over the years, CARING has steadily grown in number and benefits.



Education, networking, and jobs for informatics nurses are the strongest benefits of joining CARING today. Volunteers arrange for and speak at four to six meetings per year. Topics include subjects important to informatics nurses, such as computerized provider order entry, EHR selection, and nursing documentation. Some meetings focus on a specific vendor and the products they offer to manage data and information in healthcare. Since incorporation in 2000, an annual general meeting with a luncheon speaker has been held every year.


CARING initiated an information exchange with all the other known nursing informatics groups. Newsletters, e-mails, and other mailings are shared between groups. The association has had joint meetings with chapters of the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society, AMIA-NIWG, and other healthcare informatics groups. Then, in 2003, CARING members helped to spearhead the formation of The Alliance for Nursing Informatics to further facilitate a unified voice for nursing informatics.


The newsletter of CARING, which began with a dot matrix printer and the original IBM-PC, is now a six- to eight-page professional publication produced quarterly. Each newsletter has one or two educational articles, a section on member news to assist with maintaining professional networks, updates and news from previous meetings, and survey data and reports from the CARING organization. The CARING newsletter is indexed in CINAHL(R), allowing students and professionals access to past archives and submissions using standard information retrieval databases.


Networking is accomplished via time set aside at meetings for such purposes. Members wearing of name badges and a dedicated time for introductions is set aside at most meetings. CARING has an active electronic mailing list initiated in 1996 on which members are free to post questions, comments, announcements of conferences, jobs, and others. Members volunteer answers to the individual question or to the entire group.


In May 2002, CARING initiated the "Job Bank" to assist in connecting potential employers with professional informatics candidates. Given the unique skill set required for nursing informatics, the CARING Job Bank has proved very successful in placing many members into new roles. The job bank has also seen a consistent reuse by employers as they expand informatics departments and look for additional candidates.


There has been an online presence on the World Wide Web since 1995, with a current project underway to advance our Web platform and features. Newsletters for previous years are posted as well as membership information, contact details, meeting announcements, and the job bank. The first hardcopy of the CARING member directory was published in 1998, with more than 300 members listed. Photographs of some members were included. In the second edition (2000), the directory had grown to include more than 500 members, and, thanks to digital photographs and electronic mail, many more members' pictures were available. With our new Web platform, we will have an online and searchable member directory.



The work of the many CARING volunteers-either as elected leaders or appointed helpers-will direct the future of the organization. The goals of CARING include enhancing the Web site for a members-only area that includes an online member directory. Because of problems such as the nursing shortage, CARING hopes to focus efforts on issues of political influence. Supporting research in the area of clinical informatics is also a future goal. Strong ties to other nursing informatics organizations around the world will help all nursing informatics efforts.


Because of the countless efforts of many volunteers, a nurse or interested party can join CARING at the current rate of only $20 per year.




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3. CARING Web Site (Home Page). "".