When John Delaney went to college in the mid-1980s, the state of Texas offered in-state tuition for nursing students. “Honestly, that incentive is what led me to choose that field of study at the time, but it turned out to be the best decision,” says John, who was raised in Chicago. He graduated from West Texas A&M University in 1986 and started his nursing career at Lubbock General Hospital, now part of the UMC Health System, the primary teaching hospital for Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.
John worked at UMC Health as a staff nurse on a medical-surgical post-operative care unit, left the hospital to do travel nursing for a year, and returned to UMC Health, where he worked his way up to become a medical-surgical director. In 1997, he switched gears…into IT. “Our hospital was way ahead of the curve on implementing an electronic health record system, and so I moved from direct patient care into the clinical informatics department,” John says. He spent 12 years in the role—working under the UMC Health System CIO until 2009.
“I was looking for ways to impact patient care in different ways,” says John. “It became clear at that time that the lack of technology in healthcare was holdingback the industry. So, this was an opportunity to do something different, impact nursing practiceand improve care for our patients. And now, it’s clear that our hospital was very progressive, and I got to be a part of that.”
Texas Tech University
In 2010—after 24 years at UMC Health—John took a new opportunity with Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center as the executive director of the West Texas Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center, which was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act. We assisted primary care providers in the selection, implementation and meaningful use of electronic health record systems.“It was a great opportunity to help physicians implement and adopt electronic health record systems throughout West Texas.”At the same time, John earned an MSN at Texas Tech in 2012.
A new opportunity with Tenet Healthcare
After getting the HITREC up and running, John took a position at Tenet Healthcare Corporation as regional director for clinical informatics. The organization was at the start of implementing EHR systems in 48 hospitals over 48 months. “That concept was very intriguing to me and I was excited to be able to work at a national level in informatics across many facilities around the country,” he says. Today, those implementations are complete and John’s role is to assist in the optimization of EHRs, mentor nursing informaticists at Tenet’s facilities, liaise between the hospitals and the corporate office, and identify opportunities to advance the practice of nursing Informaticists in the organization.
Next goal: Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
In 2017, John decided that a terminal degree in his field of nursing informatics would solidify his resume and help him achieve his goals. “It’s a professional accomplishment that would make me feel very proud,” he says. “Ultimately, a doctoral degree and 20+ years of experience in informatics would position me for a new role that is emerging in our field: chief nursing informatics officer.”
In his role at Tenet, John travels often so an online doctorate program was his best option. He had an excellent recommendation for American Sentinel University from the person he trusts most, his wife, Terry Delaney, who is a DNP Educational Leadership graduate (2016).
“I knew my wife’s experience, but when I heard that American Sentinel added an informatics track to its DNP program, it was an easy decision,” he says. “This program is really aligned with my career path.” John began his DNP Informatics course work in December 2017. He is doing his capstone project in partnership with his peers at UMC Health System in Lubbock at his former workplace. The project will study the impact of the integration of smartphones and the EHR on the communication of critical lab results to nursing. It will also study the impact of the integration on the timeliness of interventions in response to the critical result.
John will graduate from American Sentinel in spring 2020. “The DNP Informatics program has met my needs as a busy professional who has a family and travels a lot,” he says. Even better, John adds, is that the program itself is designed to meet the needs of clinical informaticists in hospital environments. “This program is perfect for people like me who know patient care but can also help IT design and implement applications that work for nurses. I highly recommend it.”
Inspired by John’s story? A DNP with a specialization in informatics leadership enables nurses with informatics experience to combine their passion for nursing with their skills in technology and data, and to lead informatics in today’s healthcare systems. When you acquire new knowledge, you can apply it to nursing practice in ways that enhance patient care and improve outcomes.
Read the other student success stories for more inspiration.