When Deana Simpson got into the electronic medical records area of nursing, it was well before the movement to transition the healthcare industry into the digital age. Deana started her nursing career at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, in 1984 as a staff nurse on the medical unit but was approached just a year and a half later to join a nurse practice committee responsible for moving the hospital’s paper records to an electronic HDS-Ulticare system.
“My hospital was an early informatics adopter, and I had this unique opportunity to learn about something on the job that didn’t really exist before that time,” says Deana, who enjoyed the work so much, she joined the IT department thereafter. For the rest of her career at William Beaumont, Deana was an information system instructor, applications analyst and database specialist.
Bachelor of General Studies
In the early 1990s, Deana went back to school for a bachelor’s degree, graduating with a Bachelor of General Studies in business, training, and development from Oakland University in 1993. She also accepted a position as a system consultant at Mercy Health Network, one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit healthcare systems that has more than 3,200 licensed hospital beds. She spent the next 20 years working her way up into clinical transformation/health informatics management positions at Mercy Health, Mount Clemens General Hospital, CareTech (an IT and health information management outsourced services provider) and Detroit Medical Center.
Fueled by a life tragedy
While Deana was at Detroit Medical Center, her CNO encouraged her to go back to school for a master’s degree. In 2011 at a leadership conference, she met Cerner’s vice president of nursing, Roy Simpson, who had recently graduated from American Sentinel University with a Doctor of Nursing Practice Executive Leadership. “That’s when I first heard about American Sentinel and its informatics-focused MSN, which was exactly what I was looking for,” she says. Deana checked out the program and knew instantly it was the one for her. She took her first class in 2012.
Soon after, tragedy struck Deana’s family when her brother was diagnosed with a rare, fatal brain disorder, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)—the very same disease that took the life of her mother and several other family members as well. While Deana’s brother battled CJD and after he passed away, Deana became dedicated to spreading awareness. She continues to run a CJD website that she created, is co-chair of the CJD International Support Alliance, and has spoken at many research and educational conferences around the world, now applying the knowledge gained through her American Sentinel course work to further her efforts. With the support of her American Sentinel Community Health professor, Deana completed a class project on an education program for hospice organizations to help them better understand how to care for CJD patients.
St. John Providence & Ascension Crittention Hospital
Amid her family crises, Deana joined Ascension, the nation’s largest nonprofit and Catholic health system. She became the vice president of transformation for St. John Providence in 2012 and Ascension Crittention Hospital in 2015. Several times, she took breaks from school and even admits she thought about quitting school entirely—but she didn’t.
“I’m fortunate to work for a great organization that has been so supportive of me and my journey,” says Deana, who will graduate in spring 2018—at the same time as her daughter, who is finishing up her Master of Social Work. “I’m so excited to reach this goal of achieving my master’s and I have recommended American Sentinel to others at my organization. I love where I work and want to continue to take on more leadership opportunities in informatics and transformation. I know that having my MSN in informatics will help me do that.”
Inspired by Deana’s story? An MSN program can be your passport to a specialty nursing field, like nursing education, informatics, nursing management and organizational leadership, or infection control. Specialized knowledge forms the foundation of these nursing fields. When you acquire new knowledge, you can apply it to nursing practice in ways that enhance patient care and improve outcomes.