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ITCH 2013

23 February 2013

Posting from the Information Technology & Communications in Health conference in Victoria, BC – hosted by my grad school, the School of Health Information Science at the University of Victoria. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT, at the last conference (2011) I was here to scope out the MSc program and the faculty for grad school opps! And here I am, all done my course work and only thesis ahead 😀

Wonderful to catch up with classmates, faculty, other familiar faces, and (of course) meet new people!

The main topics that are holding my interest here include public informatics, consumer informatics, social media, empowered clients/patients, and informatics education (yes, I still have a problem with narrowing my focus…).

Here are links to the two posters I submitted.

There were certainly some lessons learned for me with these posters:

  • In the CHI poster: too many words – must cut down, because nobody wants to read all that text
  • In both: too general. To be fair, these were based on literature reviews, not completed studies. Anyhow, this did mean I didn’t have a solid methods or results section – which definitely seemed to be a point of interest with the judges
  • In both: abstract ideas – the empowered consumer and social media are still not quite crowd-winning and tangible enough. Great ideas – but people need more (le sigh, guess I need to finish my thesis and THEN I’ll have a nice deliverable on consumer informatics and social media!)
  • Bonus points: many positive comments on design 🙂

Adios! Off to my next concurrent!

Human factors in health care: the application of twitter

Human factors in health care: the application of twitter


What’s In For Me in “In-for-matics”

9 January 2012

Hey friends, after a gruelling first semester of graduate studies, I return! It’s been an intense learning curve, and a process of becoming. I felt a lot of pressure with every assignment, knowing that ideally, all course work will contribute eventually to my thesis. This expectation makes it difficult to have the attitude “it’s just one assignment, get it over with!”. Notwithstanding these anxieties, I’ve identified my area of interest in health informatics, and completed a literature review and research proposal (yay!).

The text below is from an assignment question with the following instructions:

  • “You bring to health informatics a personal perspective based on your experience, prior education and training. Describe how you plan to use that to advance health informatics generally and more specifically your area of interest. “
Writing the response to this question was particularly thought-provoking, and I thought I’d share it with you here:

I chose to pursue the study of health information science largely due to my interest in communications, systems, and technology that have emerged from my experiences as a Registered Nurse. A desire to build competencies in health informatics in myself, and in the nursing profession, and respect for the significance of data and information motivated me to further my education. Experience as a direct care provider in a complex health environment has shown me the importance of information skills and access to information resources, which impact decisions not only within the clinical domain, but also those that fall under administrative responsibilities.

The patients and clients I have provided care to have necessitated appreciation for the various aspects of health care delivery, including educational services, accessibility considerations, various points of care and care environments, and socioeconomic and geographical challenges. Perhaps the best representation of my personal perspective of health care is the social determinants of health, or the conditions within which people are born, grow, live, work, and age, including the health care system. Strong health care information systems and responsible use of such systems can help to address information disparities, and resulting health inequities. However, there is limited terrain in health informatics that I can achieve through clinical interventions; health care provider behaviours and actions must complement consumer information initiatives, which require their own distinct development strategies.

Communication and empathy training in nursing education, solidified through clinical practice in areas deeply qualitative and painstakingly complicated, such as mental health, oncology, foreign field work, and care for children with life-limiting disabilities led me to believe that I had a firm grasp with which to relate to clients and families. In the past 18 months an unanticipated illness has led to an experience as a patient and consumer of the health care system, giving me a breadth of understanding that I could not possibly have gained in my role as a clinician. Sustaining acute medical conditions and subsequent chronic illness that have affected my physical abilities, mental capacity, work life, and personal relationships has afforded me the lived experience on the other side of the professional care relationship. With enhanced comprehension of the disempowerment poor health can lead to, and firsthand testament to the role of health information in recovery and maintenance, I return to my role as a health care professional with a renewed awareness of and value for client health information needs.

These experiences have led to a specific interest in consumer health informatics and its potential to inform practice standards and professional competencies, which may ultimately lead to revolutionized health care education and training. Further to this potential, health informatics accomplishes the principals of primary health care, in particular, accessibility, public participation, and appropriate technology. From this, I take motivation to extend consumer health informatics to public health initiatives and frameworks, addressing health issues related to everyday lifestyle and activities of healthy people, which again highlights the significance of social determinants. There is also potential for population health promotion to meet the needs of Canadian subpopulations through intersectoral collaboration, delivering health information and services within explicit care contexts. A health promotion approach to consumer health information holds implications for partnerships between the health industry and primary- and secondary- education. Preparing a population of future health literate consumers is just as important as interventions for the current adult population of consumers.

With these thoughts helping to create my intentions for my contributions to health informatics, I bring forward a unique approach to consumer health information and the client-provider relationship. I aspire to extend the concept of clinical interventions informed by consumer health, information, and social status to the larger, overarching approach to health care; this I hope to achieve by taking a role within the scholarship of teaching and learning in nursing education in the future. I am attracted to this environment because of the opportunities for further research, knowledge utilization studies, and access to an environment in which to integrate health informatics into undergraduate health sciences education, and positively influence the future health outcomes of Canadians.

Thanks for reading! After gauging the workload of my first semester, I hope to establish a better balance in my life this semester, and of course, to blog more 😀

Writeya soon!


Three More Letters

14 September 2011

It seems my fourletterslater have led me to three more letters – MSc. A year and a half after completing my BScN (and a whole lot of unanticipated confusion later), I find myself taking my nursing practice in a new direction.

I’ve just started my Masters in Science (Health Informatics) through the University of Victoria. This is a few years earlier than what I had once planned for in terms of a timeline for graduate studies, which just goes to show that plans aren’t set in stone, and we need to constantly re-evaluate and re-adjust.

There have been some feelings of shame and guilt for me since stepping out of direct patient care. When I first returned to Edmonton from Halifax, I felt embarrassed at the idea of letting any of my nursing friends know that yes, I had returned to Alberta, but no, I wasn’t working and didn’t have a plan to work in nursing. Was I a fraud? Did I fake my way through nursing school, embracing every opportunity extended to me with no intention of continuing in the profession? Had I wasted precious years studying a field that I wouldn’t pursue? These sorts of thoughts persisted for many months.

A turning point came when I realized, had any of my nursing colleagues told me that they had experienced a “hiccup” in their career paths and were unsure of their place in, or intentions with nursing, It would not have crossed my mind, nor would I have found it acceptable to accuse falsification or deception, or to ostracize a person from the profession. Why in the world would I hold myself to a different expectation, or treat myself with less consideration? It’s been a hard lesson, but I’ve come to realize the importance of self-acceptance. This image captures the concept well:

You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.

We hear “self-care” and think – okay, I need to get my exercise, and I should sleep x many hours, and check off these food groups every day. Oh yes, and find time somewhere in there to do something I enjoyas if downtime is a task, and self-care is another chore. Well, caring for self and preventing burn-out also involves being nice to yourself rather than beating yourself up, being realistic with self-expectations instead of unreasonable, and having the sense to change your plan if, after making an honest attempt, it’s not working for you and you’re not happy.

With this in mind, I’m heading into my new program not only with a focus on my career-minded strengths (my themes being strategic, activator, restorative, individualization, and achiever – results taken from StrengthFinder 2.0 Report), but also with a different perspective, which places value on my needs, limitations, and the person I am outside of my professional roles. I’ve found that an easy way to help myself make decisions is to ask, “Will it build my energy, or drain my energy?”.

I’m relieved to say that I’ve reconciled my professional identity crisis, and am not ashamed to talk about my deviation from staff nursing – in fact, I find it valuable to have a clinical perspective as a budding health informatician; I intend to work, quite possibly in nursing, once circumstances are favourable (i.e., adjusted to grad school workload and personal health conditions). I used to say “first and foremost, I’m a nurse”. Although I still consider myself a nurse while I start scratching out a role in health informatics, I know now that first and foremost, I’m a person – professional and career expectations aside. This way, I’m happier, healthier, and I genuinely feel as though I’m taking care of myself. What could be more important?

Yours in nursing, informatics, but most importantly, in authentic self,

Squashy, Minty, Cyprioty Nommnoms

26 April 2011

I had a wine and cheese a while back, and looked for recipes that are

  • appropriate for my veg friends;
  • adventurous;
  • cheesey;
  • and, tea-inspired!

Pretty Platter

Fruit Salad in a Jasmine Chili Lime Syrup

Pears Poached in Cabernet Sauvignon with Cinnamon, Cloves, and Ginger

There were the classics, like bocconcini, brie, and herbed goat’s, and the more adventurous..
Like Halloumi. When you come across a cheese that the ladies at Spinelli’s (Italian Centre Shop) deli don’t know of, you’ve found a unique variety!!
The creation:
Mint Tea Couscous with roast squash, halloumi, dates, and pistachios.

The dish.

The recipe:
  • 1 lb butternut squash, wedged
  • 3 T EVOO
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 unpeeled garlic cloves
  • 2 large dried chiles
  • 8 oz halloumi cheese
  • 3 T pistachios, shelled and chopped
  • 2 peppermint tea bags
  • 1 1/4 C just-boiled water
  • 1 1/4 C couscous
  • 4 oz fresh Medjool dates, pitted and finely chopped
  • 2 T EVOO (or argan oil)
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 400*F.
Place squash in roasting pan, drizzle with 2 T olive oil, tuck in bay leaves, thyme, garlic cloves, and chiles. Roast for 25 min, or until squash is almost tender. Raise temp to 475*F. Add halloumi and pistachios, drizzle with remaining olive oil, and roast for a further 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, put peppermint tea in a heatproof pitcher or teapot and pour over the hot water. Allow to steep for 1 minute, then discard the tea bags. Put couscous and dates in a large bowl, season to taste, and pour over the hot tea. Cover with plastic wrap and leave for 5 minutes, or until grains have swollen and absorbed the tea.
Fluff up couscous with a fork, stirring in about half the ingredients from the roasting pan at the same time. Spoon into bowls and top with remaining ingredients. Drizzle with oil and serve.
^ this was one of the hits of the party! I didn’t serve over mint couscous as we had many other carbs going on (Black Russian, anyone?), but I can’t wait to make it again and try out the flavoured grain!

Matcha Cake with Green Tea Lime Buttercream

Any recommendations for other exotic cheeses? Tea recipes?! Please share 😀

Cutting the Cake with Lulu

Food & Friends ❤

Stella came for a visit, too 🙂

Chewy Clueless Mean Chocolate Ginger Cookies

24 April 2011

Friday night my friend Devin hosted a movie night. He hadn’t seen the must-see Mean Girls, so of course Brit, Danica, and I jumped on the opportunity to “initiate” him!! We followed with the 1996 film Clueless.. and holy goodness there were dated references throughout – ohhh bring me back to elementary school, why not?!!

Mean Girls

on Wednesdays Mean Girls wear pink

There was so much good food. Veg chili, bread and cornbread fresh out of the oven, cupcakes, shortbread laced with mini-eggs.. mmm!!


Clueless gals

When deciding what to contribute I had to stay away from lactose, garlic, and nuts due to allergies. So… I chose:

Chewy Chocolate Ginger Cookies


  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 1 T cocoa
  • 1 1/4 t ginger
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t cloves
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 1/2 t boiling water
  • 1/2 C butter, softened
  • 1/2 C packed brown sugar
  • 1 T grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 C fancy molasses
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 1/4 C chocolate chips
  • golden granulated sugar crystals
Combine first 6 ingredients in bowl; set aside. Dissolve baking soda in boiling water; cool. Beat butter, brown sugar and fresh ginger on medium speed until fluffy. Add molasses and vanilla; beat until caramel coloured (ooh pretty!). Beat in dissolved baking soda. Using low speed, beat flour mixture in gradually til just blended. Stir in chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate chunks). Cover and refrigerate dough for 2 hours (I think I did freezer for 25 min since I’m impatient). Remove dough and shape 1 T measures of dough into balls – I usually just eyeball it though. Roll balls in sugar crystals (I just sprinkled some demerera sugar on top and it looked nice). Place 2″ apart on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Bake at 325*F for 10-12 min or until cookies are puffed and tops are beginning to crack, but are still soft to the touch. Let stand 5 min on cookies sheets, then cool on racks. Store, layered with was paper, in an airtight container for up to one week. May be frozen.
They were a hit! I think the fresh ginger really gave these cookies a kick 🙂

Crinkly and sprinkly and gingery goodness!

Lent 2011

10 March 2011

I’m doing it – I’m talking about faith on my “young professional” blog, deal with it.

Ash Wednesday yesterday began the season of Lent – preparation for Easter, the biggest Christian feast.


Ashes, CWL tee complete with pink rosary 🙂



This year I’m making three Lenten sacrifices:

  1. Prayer – for those in transition, especially those moving and my dear friends who are beginning their residencies across the country. I will miss you so, so much. Visitskies fosho.
  2. Almsgiving – I am going to give my time, and commit to mass twice each week – one weekday and one weekend service.
  3. Abstinence – I am giving up meat (not including seafood). Hopefully this will help my sister/roommate with her vegetarian diet (no seafood. HAH)

Giving to others, giving to me. Lent 2011, Ashes.. life on earth passes.

Warm thoughts,



Change, A Powerful Ally

20 January 2011

There’s been an overwhelming amount of change in my life lately… Graduating with my BScN, transition into practice as an RN, leaving behind my student identity and the Ualberta community, moving across the country to Halifax, becoming sick, moving home… it’s been quite the ride.

Although I’ve never really been dead-set against change, I must admit in the past five months I haven’t been pleased with many of the changes in my life.

Yesterday I found some clippings from high school in an  old binder, and this one jumped out at me:

A powerful ally

Things change, and in that change there is always opportunity. Change can often be frightening and difficult. It can leave you feeling vulnerable and wishing that things could go back to how they were before. But wishing won’t make anything happen. Instead, look at the change and decide how you can make the best of it.

Changes will come. They will bring with them new challenges, to be sure. They will also bring new positive possibilities. Always keep in mind that change equals opportunity. The bigger and messier the change is, the bigger and more valuable the opportunity is.

If you fail to see and make the most of that opportunity, the day will certainly come when you’ll regret it. The world is changing faster than ever, so what does that mean? It means more opportunity than ever before. Rather than worrying too much about the changes, seize the opportunities that are embedded in them. Find a way to make change your friend, and you’ll have a powerful ally indeed.”
— Ralph Marston

Dear Change, let’s be friends 🙂 What opportunity are you bringing me?