Walden Success Story: Paving the Path to Informatics

Terry Knapp graduated from Walden last year with a Master of Science in Nursing with a specialization in Informatics.  To “pay it forward” to other aspiring informatics professionals, he reached out to Walden and offered to serve as a resource to other Walden students interested in this relatively new career field.  I invited Terry to join the Walden University Career Services LinkedIn group and I asked if he might share his career success story with other students through our blog – he kindly agreed.

Four years ago, Terry was ready to move beyond clinical nursing care.  He loved technology and discovered that the field of informatics was due for explosive growth, so he researched various degree programs.  He was impressed with Walden’s 50 year history and enrolled in the program.  He was pleased with his experience, stating that Walden’s curriculum incorporated informatics trends at the national and community levels. 

Terry pursued his master’s while working as a nurse at a community hospital.  A back injury while lifting a patient necessitated a break from clinical care.   It is often said, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”  Terry turned an unlucky fall into a great opportunity to gain experience in his new career field!

Wanting to work but not yet ready for lifting patients, Terry took the initiative to apply for a part-time medical records project.  He eventually turned this part-time project into a 3-page description for a full-time job!  Through his new full-time medical records position, he gained exposure to informatics, as he tracked patient data to help with workflows, worked on getting doctors remote access to medical records and even built a small electronic medical records database. 

Terry’s top advice for Walden informatics students: take advantage of the opportunity to network with Chief Informatics Officers, Chief Nursing Officers and other leaders in the field while doing your Capstone project.  He met with the Director of the Chicago Healthcare Information Exchange and was then invited to several exchange meetings afterwards.  Through these meetings, he learned that Chicago was working to build a data repository for all area hospitals to ensure better patient safety and satisfaction through avoiding duplicate testing when patients are transferred between hospitals. 

Terry proactively built his professional network throughout his master’s program.  Networking and keeping in touch with informatics colleagues  – including one co-worker who moved on to another position and then contacted him to send her his resume – led to landing his full-time position in informatics at a new hospital upon earning his degree.  Though Terry lacked the desired informatics experience, the hiring hospital decided that, with his master’s degree and background, Terry would add a new mix to their team.

Terry is enjoying his informatics role and is happy to network with other Walden informatics students and alumni through our LinkedIn group.  He advises students to join the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) and watch their webinars.  HIMSS offers LinkedIn groups at the national and local levels.

We appreciate Terry’s sharing his story and wish him continued success in his new career field!

Written by Career Services Director Lisa Cook