1. Dunn Lopez, Karen PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN
  2. McCormick, Kathleen PhD, RN, FAAN, FACMI, FHIMSS

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In the fall of 2021, the nursing informatics community lost a luminary, Dr Virginia Saba. She was an educator, researcher, visionary, mentor, entrepreneur, and friend to many. Throughout her career, one of the areas she was most passionate about was the use and harmonization of standardized nursing terminologies as a means to generate evidence to better understand the role of nursing care on quality patient care and outcomes.


Realizing the great loss to the nursing community and the need to reignite a movement towards greater representation of nursing data in healthcare data science, the Alliance for Nursing Informatics reached out to the Friends of the National Library of Medicine (FNLM,, a nonprofit organization that seeks to promote and support the National Library of Medicine programs in research, education, and public service.


This conversation culminated in a virtual workshop that took place on October 20-21, titled, "Honoring the Legacy of Virginia Saba Through Charting a Path Forward for Standardized Terminologies and Practice and Research." The purpose of this event was to honor Dr Virginia Saba's contribution to Nursing Terminology, honor the National Library of Medicine for their role in Terminology Harmonization, look at the impact of Nursing Terminology on the Quality and Outcomes of Care in Acute Care and Population Health, and look at the future needs of continued monitoring of terminology to track innovations in Disruptive Healthcare Environments of the Future.


Dr Patricia Flatley Brennan delivered the keynote who remembered many of Dr Saba's contributions to the field of nursing informatics. This includes credentialing in nursing informatics, quoting Virginia as saying, "The voice of nursing should stand shoulder should with our medical colleagues view of the patient," as well as ensuring that that Medical subject Heading terms reflected nursing. Dr Brennan also reminded the attendees that standards are a "purposeful expressions of a common worldview" and that standards were vitally needed to help us make sense of nursing phenomenon.


There were eight sessions with over 47 speakers, panelists, and moderators following Director Brennan. These speakers represented nursing terminologies, international colleagues, the disruptive environments, researchers, the interoperability standard organizations, industry, practice, vendors, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. There were over 525 attendees from every continent except Antarctica, making it the largest and most international FNLM workshop in many years.


Some significant ideas that emerged from the conference included: (1) there is a robust body of funded and peer-reviewed research that supports the validity and reliability of the terminologies; (2) the research methods used by nursing terminology experts have progressed to higher levels of evidence over the 5 decades since their development from validation and description to prediction and data science methods; (3) although standardized nursing terminologies are not used in all US health settings, there are large health systems that use the terminologies and the powerful data it generates to improve care; (4) in health systems that do not use Standardized Nursing Terminologies, nurse leaders and/or the system purchasing gatekeepers are not advocating for the use of the terminologies for reasons that are not yet clear; (5) although a case can be made for their use, standardized nursing terminologies do not have a footprint in the increasing world of disruptive healthcare technologies; and (6) although there are several projects to develop terms that represent social determinants of health in electronic health records, as equity-focused clinicians, our standardized terminologies have included social determinants of health in their classifications for decades.


Dr Connie Delaney stepped up to the challenge task of summarizing what she referred to as a magnificent workshop. She identified three overall themes from the workshop: (1) convergence, (2) the need for trusted and fair information that can be delivered by nursing that remains the most trusted profession, and (3) leveraging standardized nursing terminologies forward to have impact on health outcomes and address Social Determinants of Health. She also noted that the conference represented "decades of hard work, growth in our science, linkage of academic-service technology with the human condition, and health policy can reinvigorate our purpose for being nurses and nursing." Dr Delaney looks forward to the future work of the workshop's planning committee, along with the FNLM and interested stakeholders, to continue with new momentum, Virginia Saba's goal to have robust nursing data as a vital part of healthcare delivery and research.


To offer the workshop free of charge to registrants, it was generously sponsored by Columbia University School of Nursing, University of Iowa, College of Nursing, Center for Nursing Classification & Clinical Effectiveness, St. Louis University, Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing, University of Minnesota School of Nursing, Meditech, University of Maryland School of Nursing, and the American Nurses Association. All workshop registrants received access of the full recording of the workshop. Those unable to attend the virtual workshop will be able to purchase the workshop recording for a small fee to cover the costs of production at


The workshop would not have been possible without the steadfast vision and efforts of Kathleen McCormick who led the event along with the organizing committee: Gregory Alexander, Carol Bickford, Whende Carroll, Karen Dunn Lopez, Jane Englebright, Rosemary Kennedy, Laura Heerman-Langford, Karen Monsen, Barbara Redman, and the workshop support staff, Ann Hill, Operations Manager, FNLM, and Chris Reddall, Director, CIPHER Media.