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Kevin Brandini MSN in Nursing Informatics

Technology is a key component of the success of many Magnet-designated organizations.

Here, Capella University graduate Kevin Brandini, who received an ANA Leadership Institute™ Nursing Scholarship to complete an MSN in Nursing Informatics, shares how his Magnet-designated employer is using technology in patient care, and how he plans to put his informatics knowledge to use in the field.

Q. What is your background?

A. I started out as a residential treatment counselor and case manager for a nonprofit in the Oregon area. I worked with youth who had cognitive and mental health issues, which was my introduction into this particular area of health care.

I graduated from Portland State with a BS in Psychology and went on to receive my BSN from the University of Portland. From there, I started working in inpatient child psychiatry. I wanted to be an inpatient nurse, and as it turned out, I really enjoyed the clinical side of things, including mental health in the context of acute care. I went on to work in areas of internal medicine, and then surgical oncology, which is what I do now. I currently serve as the RN coordinator for clinical education in the oncology inpatient and outpatient units at Providence Portland Medical Center.

Q. How did earning an MSN in Nursing Informatics from Capella benefit your career?

A. Generally speaking, the degree has helped me build knowledge and develop skills. The education has boosted my confidence and given me a great foundation for future leadership in informatics. This could be exclusively in nursing or the general health care industry. The MSN in Nursing Informatics degree has allowed me to improve the quality of the work environment for both patients and clinicians. In my current role, I am finding that informatics and education are uniquely intertwined.

Q. What sparked your interest in nursing informatics?

A. I wanted to have an impact on the clinical nursing practice. I love being a nurse, but I see myself in the future in a position where I can affect change and improve the quality of the working environment for nurses, clinicians from other disciplines, and for patients.

I really enjoy the mentoring aspect of my work. When my facility adopted a new Epic electronic health record (EHR) system 3 years ago, I acted as an Epic Super-user and a Clinical Practice Model (CPM) Champion (now a site coordinator).

When we went live with the system, I mentored clinical staff and helped troubleshoot. The change affected the way we planned care for patients, handled workflow, etc. I saw that I could be a nurse and use clinical skills as well as help mentor other nurses and use new informatics tools for the betterment of the practice and patient care.

Q. Why Capella?

A. I first learned of Capella during a Magnet Conference. I met with one of the enrollment counselors who helped “plant the seed,” so to speak, which later grew into being admitted into the Nursing Informatics program. What catapulted my interest further was applying and earning the ANA Leadership Institute™ Nursing Scholarship for the program—a huge reward for which I am incredibly grateful.

What attracted me to Capella was the structure of the program. It’s online and the flexibility is huge. It is helpful to be able to do what I need to do during the day and then plug in school work in the evenings or mornings on my time. I like the social aspect of classroom experiences, but I actually get a lot out of Capella’s online learning structure—reading and synthesizing the information using my own thoughts and experiences. Working through that process helps me learn, and the information becomes quickly applicable in the real world.

Q. Health information technology is a big topic these days. How does IT help on the frontlines of nursing?

A. Simply put, our clinical decision-making in this fast-paced environment is strengthened by the ability to access up-to-date information in a patient’s record. We are making decisions all day that are heavily reliant on what we see in the EHR. We might need to dig into electronic resources to check on drug interactions, what should be given in particular IV tubing, or different surgical procedures. The more efficient IT can be, the more efficient nurses can be, which translates to better patient care.

Q. What is a Magnet hospital?

A. The American Nurses’ Credentialing Center (ANCC) awards Magnet status to hospitals that satisfy certain criteria for nursing strength and quality. Areas of patient care, nursing excellence, and innovation are all taken into account to determine Magnet status.

Q. What are the benefits of working at a Magnet hospital?

A. I’ve worked for a Magnet hospital for most of my career, and I wanted to get involved with Magnet during our last designation round so I could learn more about it. A big take-away was that it really promotes a culture that is not only patient-focused but nurse-focused and one that values combining teams of health care professionals. Nurses are encouraged and inspired to practice at the highest level. They want to seek out the best practices in an effort to promote the best patient outcomes. They are constantly seeking out more learning through research and quality improvement initiatives.

It takes time to build that culture. We share decisions about choices related to patient care. Nurses have ownership and a say in what happens. It’s a neat culture and I’ve been inspired by it.

Q. How does having Magnet status impact the use of IT in the delivery of care?

A. In a Magnet hospital, basing clinical decisions on the best evidence available is of paramount importance. And often IT houses large databases of evidence-based practice literature, which we can access to help support our decisions in patient care. In Epic, for example, the CPM database stores clinical practice guidelines, which can be referenced in a patient’s care plan documentation. The inter-professional team can then contribute, per their scope of practice, their assessment and interventions based upon those chosen, evidence-based clinical practice guidelines.

Q. What’s next for your education and career?

A. Eventually, I would like to pursue a PhD in nursing, informatics, or education. I love education and mentoring and enjoy working with nurses early in their careers. Mentoring—whether new nurses or nurses learning IT in health care—is something I’d like to incorporate into any of my future work. Being able to do more teaching and mentoring is a great outcome of earning a higher degree.

I also hope I can be involved in research on clinical practice and informatics which will help add to the growing database of evidence-based practice literature and ultimately affect the quality of patient care. I like to write, too, so I hope to do a lot of that. I hope that’s where I can take my career in these next few years.

Learn more about Capella’s informatics programs: