Mitzi Lantz admits that although her first career love is taking care of people as a nurse, her second love is computers.
“I’ve always been a little bit of a geek about technology,” Mitzi admits. As a nurse, she started out in oncology and moved into the pediatric unit and the emergency room. Eventually, she found her home in labor and delivery, where she worked for most of her career. When documentation mandates became a major issue for her hospital in Georgia, Mitzi was eager to get involved. “I’ve always been the one to raise my hand to redesign forms and things like that. I enjoy making the documentation process easier for nurses in order to make the administrative part of the job more efficient to give us more time with patients.”
A Big Move, A New Job
In 2004, Mitzi’s husband had a career opportunity in Georgia, so they relocated from Michigan. But to avoid the hot summers, Mitzi became a travel nurse during the warm months. The career sent her around the country for a few months at a time. In 2011, she was assigned to Nantucket Cottage Hospital on the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts. Within a few months, she was brought on full time.
Initially, Mitzi was a labor and delivery nurse, but soon thereafter, she was offered a full-time position as a clinical informatics specialist. “They needed someone to develop electronic forms to meet the changes needed for meaningful use,” she says. “For me, integrating technology is really about finding new ways to help nurses, the users.” She stayed at Nantucket Cottage, training physicians, nurses and all clinical staff members how to optimize their systems—and use them effectively.
Education for Job Security
Because Mitzi and her husband decided to live separately until he can join her in Nantucket, she realized quickly that she would have some free time on her hands. “I thought it was a great time for me to go back to school,” she says.
“Informatics is the future of nursing. I knew that further education would give me job security.”
Given her remote location and the convenience of distance learning, Mitzi only considered online universities. “When I found American Sentinel University, the first thing that stood out is that it had exactly the classes I wanted,” she says. “I liked the RN to MSN bridge program, and I loved that I could add a nursing informatics specialization.” Mitzi enrolled in the RN to MSN in late 2011. [incl-event tag=”open”]
A Future in Informatics
When she graduates in early 2015, Mitzi plans to continue working in informatics, but she has also considered becoming an educator. “Today’s nursing schools must educate students on computer documentation because that’s where health care in the U.S. is going,” she says. “I am someone who loves to teach others, so I’ve thought about teaching clinical informatics courses for new nurses.”
For now, Mitzi will continue to help her organization make efficient use of a brand new system and continue to meet meaningful use mandates. Lucky for her, because she works at such a small hospital, she still gets to work at the bedside. “We’re a rural island and it takes 45 minutes for a helicopter to get here, so we need to take care of very sick patients quickly—we’re definitely a hands-on hospital,” she says. “If I get a call at midnight to come help, I’m there. My computer work is important, but the patient always comes first.”