1. Hunt, Eleanor MSN, RN, BC

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The North Carolina Nurses Association's (NCNA) Council on Nursing Informatics (CONI) is delighted to announce that it is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. In May 1993, the NCNA approved the formation of a CONI as a structural unit of the organization just a year after the American Nurses Association identified nursing informatics as an area of specialty practice. This practice council connects North Carolina informatics nurses via quarterly council meetings, continuing education (CE) sessions on informatics topics, networking, e-mail lists, and several informatics conferences and provides opportunities to work on local, state, and national committees and boards. The council also serves as information technology consultants to NCNA and advocates for nursing care and practice supported by information systems and processes.



The council's primary mission is to provide CE opportunities to its membership, which it accomplishes by offering three CEs at each quarterly meeting. When the council was first established, it was difficult to obtain informatics CE needed for certification and renewal. Although there are more informatics CE opportunities available now, meeting quarterly for CE is still the most important reason for belonging to the council according to surveys conducted. All informatics nurses are welcome to attend the quarterly meetings; NCNA members get the CE free, and nonmembers are charged a nominal fee.



Council activities provide opportunities for informatics nurses to practice and develop skills that allow individual practitioners to become more expert in their roles. North Carolina informatics nurses are able to experience different types of governance, committee work, and exposure at local, state, and national levels. The council is run by an elected executive committee that consists of a chair, vice chair, secretary, and two members at large, and administrative support is provided by NCNA staff. This executive committee offers a way for nurses to gain experience in an elected position. The council has also made it a point to encourage presentation and authoring skills. Many of the council's nurses have honed their presentation skills at CONI educational offerings and then gone on to present at national conferences. The indexed quarterly publication "Tar Heel Nurse" of NCNA has been a vehicle for CONI nurses to become published authors, and many council nurses go on to publish other articles, submit to peer-reviewed journals, and contribute to and write books.


As the voice for nursing in North Carolina, NCNA has connections and relationships with other organizations statewide. For example, it is a member of the North Carolina Healthcare Information and Communications Alliance Inc. This relationship allows CONI members to serve on the NC Health Information Exchange council and on many other committees and workgroups. This opportunity connects nurses with other healthcare professionals and is yet another way for an informatics nurse to pursue a topic that is of interest and also be the voice of nursing and ensure that nursing input is included in the initiative (committee initiatives include HIPAA, security, personal health records, information exchange, etc). The CONI is also a member of the Alliance for Nursing Informatics providing interaction with informatics nurses in other organization. This cross-pollination of ideas and relationship building has resulted in a widening of CE offerings to the council membership. This connection also provides a direct conduit between national calls for proposals and input and NCNA nurses.



The NCNA recognizes the importance of informatics to all nurses and recognizes CONI nurses by honoring them as nurse of the year.


* Sally Kellum (1998)-Clinical Coordinator/hospital informatics at the Durham Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center


* Kathryn S. Lytle (1999)-Clinical Systems Analyst for University of North Carolina (UNC) hospitals


* Mary C. Tatum (2000)-Nursing Informatics Coordinator for the Durham VA Medical Center


* Sheila P. Englebardt (2002)-retired Director of the Center for Instructional Technology and Educational Support, UNC-Chapel Hill School of Nursing; also Associate Clinical Professor and Coordinator of the Informatics Track


* Robin Hack (2006)-Manager for Nursing Informatics, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center




In addition to serving informatics nurses within North Carolina, the council supports all of NCNA membership by introducing relevant topics of concern at the annual convention via reference proposals. These reference proposals provide a dual purpose of introducing topics of concern to noninformatics nurses and getting the entire association to endorse the action plan. Please note the year that these topics were introduced. Often, at the time of acceptance at convention, the topic had not gained national attention as an issue, yet CONI nurses identified the topic as relevant and important. Convention-endorsed reference proposals include the following:


* Healthcare information privacy, confidentiality, and security (1998); contacts: Donna Bailey and Kay Lytle


* Achieving a paperless, patient-centered medical record by 2010 (1999); contacts: Kay Lytle, Sally Kellum, Sandra Laws, Jo Franklin, Cindy Shaw, and Ellie Callahan-Hunt


* Consumer-based health education (2001); contacts: Sheila Englebardt and Donna Bailey


* PDA use in nursing (2002); contacts: Ellie C. Hunt, Lauren E. Kearns, Donna Bailey


* Informatics competencies for all nurses (2003); contacts: Kay Lytle, Lauren Kearns, Cindy Shaw


* Identity abuse and the nurse (2004); contacts: Donna Bailey, Rebecca Kitzmiller, Lauren E. Kearns, and Cindy Shaw



Throughout the past 15 years, council members have grown through its many initiatives, opportunities, and educational events. Whether you want to be an expert in nursing informatics or you are just beginning to wonder how informatics fits with your nursing practice, the CONI meetings provide a way to obtain nursing informatics information locally. The current board thanks the persistent and prescient members who initiated the council in 1993 and will continue to guide CONI toward the future.


More information on meetings and the council can be obtained at