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 that our employees with nursing backgrounds bring to the company. To honor them during the Year of the Nurse, we chatted with several different nurses on staff about their journeys as clinicians and health IT professionals. Check out our conversation with David Bocanegra, RN, Nurse Informaticist at IMO, below.
Why did you go into nursing?
I kind of fell into nursing – I didn’t grow up with a longing to be a nurse like some – and my path was not typical. At 17, I joined the Navy and was trained as a hospital corpsman, where there are two main career paths, so to speak. The first is to specialize in field medicine and become a field medic with the Marine Corps. The second is to go into patient care and work in various capacities within the Naval hospital system, and I chose the latter. My first duty assignment was at the Naval Regional Medical Center in Great Lakes, Illinois. I was apprehensive at first – I wasn’t sure if I was going to like patient care and, at 17, I was more looking for the adventure of being in the Navy. I started out on the orthopedic surgery floor and eventually moved to the ICU. During my 10 years on active duty, this experience of caring for people who were critically ill and injured – and of being part of their recovery – is what cemented my resolve to become a nurse.
Why did you eventually decide to focus on health information technology (HIT)?
My specialty is in emergency nursing, which I did full time for 23 years at a Level 1 trauma center and then at a bustling community hospital. I have always been interested in technology and over the years developed the reputation of being “the guy who knows about computers”. The medical director for the emergency department in which I worked owned a small electronic health record (EHR) company. Because of my “computer guy” reputation, he offered me a consultant job doing go live support for his EHR implementations. After working a couple of these contracts, I was offered a full-time position as the clinical lead for project implementations. At the time, I didn’t even realize that opportunities like this existed for nurses. As far as I was concerned, it was the best of both worlds, so I immediately jumped at the chance and have never looked back.
What is the greatest misconception or misunderstanding about your profession?
The greatest misconception of nursing, in my opinion, is that all nursing career paths lead to a clinical setting. I used to think that the only career move available to me would be nursing management, or perhaps a nursing specialty position within a hospital. I certainly was a victim of tunnel vision. It wasn’t until I landed my first health IT job that I realized the breadth of opportunities for nurses outside of a clinical setting.
What is the most rewarding part of working in patient care?
The most rewarding part of clinical nursing is being part of a team that helps make a difference in people’s lives. Perhaps I am biased, but I find that this is especially true in emergency nursing because the entire community is the patient. Whether you are part of a team that saves a patient’s life or are merely instructing new parents on how to give a proper dose of Tylenol to their child, you are making a difference. After 23 years of working in an emergency room setting, I have been a direct witness to countless memorable events. Many of them are not happy or fun – in fact, I wish that I could forget some of those – however, recognizing that all of these things are part of life has helped me see the good in my life and look for the good in others.
If you had one piece of advice to give anyone in nursing school, what would it be?
Remember that no matter what career path you choose, as a nurse your focus should always be how will this benefit my patients.