Nursing Informatics and Oxymorons

By Dr. Dee McGonigle


McGonigle, D (June, 2005). Editorial: Nursing Informatics and Oxymorons. Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI), 9, (2) [Online]. Available at

As I was sitting down to write this editorial, I wondered what the focus should be for this edition. Just letting my mind wander was not working since oxymorons kept creeping in. Well, why fight it?

The excitement of our era lies in the fact that we have a global village that we must be aware of as we implement technologies. These far reaching capabilities leave me hopelessly optimistic even though there are many somewhat hopeful pessimists influencing our practice.

Just as we have all had a demanding patient, I am demanding tighter net security and more accountability than we find in other industries using electronic technologies. The systematic chaos that we experience on a daily basis screams for dynamic stability. My initial conclusion is that bug-free software and systems should be a reality if we are trying to convince lay-persons that the healthcare system has the technologies to maintain flawless functionality especially in the areas of security and confidentiality.

When I look at my liquid crystal display, I want to see a realistic simulation arising from my thinking out-loud while I use a simple technology. As a normal human, I think it is perfectly awful when I must read a software manual since they are the biggest practical joke next to the term software documentation.

If someone consults with me on an informatics problem, sometimes I feel as though I am doing nothing more than working through fuzzy logic. Can we have a quick fix with a zero deficit? Or should I go back to listening to my live recording?

Hope you enjoy the humor as I think about this informatics creature we are all trying to get a handle on while struggling to shape it. The problem lies in the fact that many people are shaping or attempting to control this explosive, evolving technological progression and some just keep stirring the pot as in the adage of too many cooks. We see ads for informatics seminars or meetings that deal with being fit/healthy for the future or in step with technology’s strides but many of us are still operating with legacy systems that do not interface and facilitate our work. The new technologies are truly impressive and what we can do today, most people in the 1980’s would have said could not be done. The advances that we are seeing are dramatic – they are pervasive – impacting our professional and personal lives.

Nursing informatics furnishes us with the opportunity to generate new and innovative nursing science that transcends our former boundaries of nursing knowledge and wisdom. Seize the opportunity!