Nursing Clinical Manager Leverages Education and Interest into New Informatics Career

Master of Health Care Informatics student Darlene Anderson has worked in many different areas of nursing—from the pediatric unit in a hospital to an assisted living facility to home health care. But when she joined ConnectiCare, a health insurance provider serving Connecticut and Western Massachusetts, her career took a new and exciting turn.

“I feel like I’ve had more interaction with my professors and my peers than I would have in a regular classroom, where everyone might keep to themselves,” says Darlene Anderson, Master of Health Care Informatics student.

“As a nurse, you’re not concerned about data management or managing costs, you’re concerned about caring for the patient,” says Darlene, who became an RN case manager for ConnectiCare in 2007. “This new role for an insurance company allowed me to see the whole health care system. I get to learn about topics like Medicare, commercial health insurance, and self-insurance. I started to see a totally different side of the health care industry.”

A Move to Health Informatics
In her job managing a caseload of participants with chronic conditions, Darlene became an expert in ConnectiCare’s software system, even training new staff and other department members. She enjoyed the work so much that soon, she started exploring online health informatics master’s degree programs. “Because I already have the BSN, I was mainly looking for a broader health informatics program and not an MSN with an informatics concentration,” says Darlene. “Compared to other programs, American Sentinel’s Master of Health Care Informatics offered the most course work in informatics—and that excited me. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I knew that this degree would help me expand my skill set.”

Applied Learning at its Best
Darlene began her master’s program in May 2013, and it didn’t take long for her to learn skills and knowledge that complimented her work at ConnectiCare. Her excitement about informatics even got her into new areas. “I started getting invited by our leadership to meetings about our systems where I could offer my insight from a user perspective,” she says. In late 2013, ConnectiCare created a new position—with Darlene in mind. She transitioned into her new role, clinical systems lead, in February 2014.

Solving Clinical Challenges through Technology
In her new job, Darlene verifies and solves internally reported clinical system issues and serves as the liaison between clinical operations staff and software vendors. Admittedly, she’s always enjoyed technology. “As someone who has worked in case management and at the bedside, I have a good understanding of what it takes for nurses to track information in the system,” Darlene says. “I know the challenges; I know how hard it is to manage all of the tasks you have every day. I can advocate for nurses and keep in mind what they need.” Darlene was hesitant about online learning when doing her initial research, but her experience at American Sentinel thus far has exceeded her expectations. “I feel like I’ve had more interaction with my professors and my peers than I would have in a regular classroom, where everyone might keep to themselves,” she says. Her American Sentinel education has already resulted in big opportunities. “I am excited about how it has unfolded and how to grow into this new area.

A Positive Experience
Darlene was hesitant about online learning when doing her initial research, but her experience at American Sentinel thus far has exceeded her expectations. “I feel like I’ve had more interaction with my professors and my peers than I would have in a regular classroom, where everyone might keep to themselves,” she says. Her American Sentinel education has already resulted in big opportunities. “I am excited about how it has unfolded and how to grow into this new area.”

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