This year, pioneering nurse Florence Nightingale would have turned 200. To honor her legacy, and to highlight the crucial role that nurses play in patient care around the globe today, the World Health Organization has designated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. At IMO, we’re proud of the depth of knowledge and experience that our employees with nursing backgrounds bring to the company. To honor them during the Year of the Nurse, we chatted with several nurses on staff about their journeys as clinicians and health IT professionals. Check out our conversation with Lou Ann Montgomery, RN, Nurse Informaticist at IMO, below.
Why did you go into nursing?
Funny story, I never wanted to be a nurse. As a matter of fact, I knew I did not want to be a nurse – I had seen firsthand how they were treated in the hospital. But when I was in high school, my mom married a psychiatrist and was assisting him in opening his private practice. She taught me how to do his transcription, and soon I began filing insurance claims and helping out around the office. At 18, I got a job as a medical secretary. A few years later, I heard about a new program at the local community college called Medical Assisting. So, I took it and became certified and worked for a few different doctors over the years. While completing my associate degree in nursing, I decided to apply to nursing school. There, I decided that I wanted to work as a tech, so I got certified as a nurse’s assistant, or CNA. Nine months after I finished nursing school, I was working nights at the hospital and decided to return to school to get my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).
Why did you eventually decide to focus on health information technology (HIT)?
I worked in the public health arena for 16 years, which was fun, but challenging in many ways. One of the challenges was our state’s attempt to require nurses to utilize digital charting during rural home visits. Think old, slow laptops with poor connectivity and a non-user-friendly electronic health record (EHR). I thought there had to be a better way. An opportunity became available in a local health IT company, so I grabbed it!
What is the greatest misconception or misunderstanding about your profession?
For health IT, I think that my friends and family think that I am a coder or maybe a software developer now – like I could ever do that! For nursing – some might think I just give shots, but others (like my mom) are convinced I can do anything, including surgery.
What is the most rewarding part of working in patient care?
There are so many. For the majority of my career, I have worked in women’s health – either at the hospital or doing home visits with at risk pregnant women, sick children, domestic abuse, substance use, and fetal death, among other things. I still have girls and women and their kids come up to me in the community.
If you had one piece of advice to give anyone in nursing school, what would it be?
Wear good shoes! What your brain forgets, your feet and legs will remember! (Advice from one of my nursing instructors).
How do you think your role as an RN has helped you in your role at IMO?
I could not perform my job here if I didn’t have my nursing degree, license, and my years of clinical experience. I am grateful for them all.