This article was written on 01 Jul 2011, and is filled under Volume 15 Number 2.

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Towards Sharing Experiences in Montreal, June 2012

Different seas, Same boats? Column

by Dr. Peter Murray, Senior Editor

This column was made possible by an educational grant from
Chamberlain College of Nursing


Murray, P. (June, 2011). Towards Sharing Experiences in Montreal, June 2012. Different seas, same boats? Column. Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI),15 (2). Available at http://ojni.org/issues/?p=535


Different seas, same boats?I start this column with a digression – albeit an important one. Most of the first draft was written on 12 May; this date, as you will all instantly recognize, is International Nurses Day (IND). The date was chosen as it is the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale. Each year, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) selects a theme for the day, which for 2011, is “Closing the Gap: Increasing Access and Equity.” This is an important theme, and the issues that I am seeking to explore in this series of columns have direct relevance. I hope that many readers will be able to find the time, if they have not already done so, to access the IND kit available from the ICN website (2011) to learn more about how nurses in all parts of the world can help to increase access to health services, reduce inequalities of access to healthcare, and work towards improving health for all.

As readers who have stuck with things through my first two columns of this series will know, the interests that I intend to focus on are two-fold and, I believe, interlinked: international differences and similarities in the issues facing nurses, and healthcare more widely, in different parts of the world, and using new and emerging technologies to share and explore the issues and, hopefully, learn from each other. The focus in my last column in March of 2011 was on use some of the newer social media tools to interact virtually and share experiences, and I made almost passing, but hopefully not dismissive, reference to paper publications and conferences. In this column, I will focus on the opportunities that international conferences offer for sharing experiences. Many such events exist, and I realise very well that many colleagues are not fortunate enough to attend many of them. However, I want to provide not too subtle encouragement to everyone who can to travel to Montreal in Canada in June 2012 to share your experiences with, and learn from, nursing informatics colleagues from all parts of the world. Even if you cannot be in Montreal, I hope that the possibilities of social media and other technologies (through blogs, microblogs such as Twitter, etc.) will permit some alternative degrees of interaction.

The first international conference and workshop on nursing and computing was held in London, UK in 1982 (Scholes, Bryant & Barber, eds., 1982; Scholes, Tallberg & Pluyter-Wenting, 2000) with the theme “The impact of computers on nursing”. Every three years since, what is now the international nursing informatics community, led by IMIA-NI, the International Medical Informatics Association’s Special Interest Group in Nursing Informatics ( http://www.imiani.org, 2011), has met to share experiences and knowledge. This current column is not the place to discuss the detailed history of the last 30 years of nursing informatics international conferences and other activities, although some of the similarities and constants of the issues addressed in these events merit a brief mention. Education and training issues have always featured strongly in NI Congresses over the past 30 years, there have seen many changes in available supportive technology. Decision making and decision support systems are another area in which nurse informaticians have displayed strong interest. We are now beginning to see issues in NI conferences of growing interest to patient-centred health and information systems, which have featured particularly strongly in the NI2009 conference in Helsinki, Finland. However, despite the purposefully international nature of the events, I have noted that international comparisons of practice have not always featured as overtly as they might. Perhaps, at NI2012, we might feature such comparisons more strongly; certainly, many aspects of the event will lend itself to international exchange of experiences and knowledge.

As we look towards NI2012, Eleventh International Congress on Nursing Informatics in Montreal next year ( http://www.ni2012.org ), we see many threads weaving together to strengthen the importance of common global issues and the need to explore, at an international level, local lessons. The theme of the conference is “Advancing Global Health through Informatics.” Patti Abbott, Chair of NI2012, who has a long and demonstrable involvement in developing nursing informatics at the international level. In her role as Co-director of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing WHO Collaborating Center, she has brought together a purposefully broad and international group of people to oversee all aspects of the conference. The initial bid to IMIA-NI to host NI2012 brought together many of the active national nursing informatics associations in the Americas, to demonstrate the importance of regional collaboration to address issues. This regional collaboration is reflected in the various committees, with the involvement of nursing informatics experts from: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Cuba, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama and USA. In addition, other colleagues from Europe and as far afield as New Zealand and Taiwan will contribute to the organization of the event. The best should be made of opportunities to collaborate and share. An international gathering presents opportunities, as well as its own challenges. Nurses working in many of the countries represented in the committees do not utilize English as their first language. This, in itself, is a major challenge to sharing experiences, although the planned use of translation service and delivering of some sessions in other languages is of benefit. Let me encourage all of you to submit your work to NI2012 and to share your experiences with the global nursing informatics community. I hope to see many readers of OJNI in Montreal.

As previously stated in my October 2010 column, one of the things that I would like to do is share the first-hand perspectives of nursing informatics colleagues from other parts of the world, particularly perspectives that are less familiar. I hope that, in the next column, we can bring together the international views of a number of colleagues on what they face as the major health, nursing, and nursing informatics issues. By comparing views, we may begin to seriously work towards an answer to the question of whether we are all in the same boat(s), facing similar problems, or whether there are, in fact, significant differences around the world.


Dr. Murray is a self-employed Health Informatics/Telematics Consultant. He has taught in the MSc in Health Informatics at The University of Winchester, UK and Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, South Africa and served as Module Leader for a Research Methods module.He is currently the CEO for the International Medical Informatics Association until 2015. He is also Adjunct faculty at University of Maryland, Baltimore, and a Founding Fellow and Director at CHIRAD. Dr Murray is a member of the American Medical Informatics Association and ANIA-CARING.

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