Never Too Late: One Family Practice’s Shift to EHRs after 50 Years of Paper

Editor’s note: We hear a lot about the stress and lack of time for direct patient care that nurses (and physicians) have experienced with the movement to EMRs or EHRs. We’re in a transitional period, and in some instances the use and design of these systems has a long ways to go. But here’s a story with a positive slant, written by someone who might easily have responded very differently, given the circumstances. Change is inevitable; how we react to it throughout our lives, less so. 

By Marilyn Kiesling Howard, ARNP

Niklas Bildhauer/ Wikimedia Commons Niklas Bildhauer/ Wikimedia Commons

I am a nurse practitioner and my husband of 60 years is a family practitioner. We still work full time in our Gulf Breeze, Florida, practice. About five years ago, we first learned that our paper records were becoming archaic and that Medicare was planning to penalize providers who didn’t switch to the use of electronic health records (EHRs) by a certain date.

It was terrible news—we had 50 years of work in the paper chart genre, and were unsure about how to make the transition. Some who were in our position took the pending requirements as an opportunity to retire, but we weren’t ready for that.

Embracing a predigital innovation. In the 1960s, we started a small family practice in Indiana. As we requested our patients’ records from the files of their most recent physicians, […]

April 16th, 2015|digital health, Nursing, Technology|3 Comments

Finding a Job as a Nurse In a Digital Age — and Keeping It

Will at Drawing on Experience manages to post a new comic almost every day. A regular theme is the progress of his career—having finished his accelerated nursing program, he’s now looking for a job. To the left is a thumbnail of a recent drawing he did about one of the more annoying aspects of the process (click the image to visit his blog and see a larger version).

A nurse returns to work at age 68 and finds her biggest challenge is computers.Of course, this isn’t the first downturn we’ve had in the U.S. economy; as AJN clinical editor Christine Moffa wrote back in May, newly minted nurses have struggled to find work before. Once you actually do get a job as a nurse, there’s the small matter of doing it for the first time. Or for the second or third time—but as if it’s the first time, at least in some respects. The October Reflections essay, “Paper Chart Nurse,” gives another perspective on the ways computers have changed the lives of nurses. It’s by an oncology nurse who returned to practice two years ago, at age 66. Her struggles with adapting to using an electronic medical record system were at times profoundly discouraging; she just wasn’t as proficient as the younger nurses at computer use, despite all her skills and experience. Have a look and please, tell us what you think.—JM, senior editor