Nursing informatics alumni leading the field

Learn more about graduates of the UAB School of Nursing's Nursing Informatics Specialty.
Graduates of the UAB School of Nursing Nursing Informatics specialty are in leadership positions at top health care organizations across the country developing advances that positively impact patients and families. 

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Kristi Henderson, DNP, NP-BC, FAAN,FAEN (DNP 2010)

University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing Alumna Kristi Henderson, DNP, NP-BC, FAAN, FAEN, is Vice President, Patient Access and Care Delivery Transformation for Ascension Healthcare, the health care delivery subsidiary of Ascension. In addition to her role as Vice President, she also serves as Clinical Professor of Population Health at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas-Austin. Prior to joining Ascension, Henderson was Chief Telehealth & Innovation Officer for the University of Mississippi Medical Center. There, she led the development of a statewide telehealth program, which was recognized as a national model. Learn more about her work in telehealth by clicking here.

Henderson is nationally recognized for successfully increasing access to high-quality, low-cost health care for thousands of patients through virtual care models, and has testified before two U.S. Senate Committees and the White House Domestic Policy Council to advance nursing and telehealth. Her national leadership roles include serving on the executive board for the American Telemedicine Association and on the National Quality Forum Telehealth Committee. She represents the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners on the National Council of State Legislators Telemedicine Task Force and is a member of the National Governors Association Telemedicine Committee. She is also a Fellow in the Emergency Nurses Association and the American Academy of Nursing.

Henderson earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree from the UAB School of Nursing in 2010, concentrating in informatics and telehealth. She was mentored by Professor and Associate Dean for Technology and Innovation Jacqueline Moss, PhD, RN, FAAN.

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Ada Holyfield, MSN, RN-BC (MSN 2016)

Ada Holyfield, MSN, RN-BC, ProVation System Administrator for UAB Medicine, supports the endoscopy units of UAB Hospital, Highlands and The Kirkland Clinic, facilitating interdisciplinary collaboration and supporting endoscopists with the utilization of ProVation MD, an endoscopy procedure documentation application. She earned her MSN in 2016.

Her first interaction with nursing informatics was as a volunteer for UAB SON PATH Clinic at MPower Ministries in 2013. At that time, the School’s nursing informatics graduate students were implementing a new electronic health record system at the clinic. Holyfield assisted, and when the students completed their clinical rotation, Holyfield continued volunteering in that role.

“I got a good feel for informatics through that experience, and when I decided to go back to school to pursue my Master’s, there was no doubt I wanted to pursue nursing informatics,” she said.

Holyfield believes hands-on experience the UAB School of Nursing offers helps informatics students understand the necessary processes and interdisciplinary collaboration needed to implement a new application or technology.

 “UABSON courses laid the foundation of nursing informatics’ principals and theories that I apply in my current position. The plan of study was heavy in research, supplemented with more technical courses relating to databases and project management, all of which have proved essential to supporting my end users,” Holyfield said.

“Technology is a driving force in healthcare, impacting the way nurses provide care,” Holyfield continued. “Having highly trained, educated nursing informatics specialists to guide its path is essential to not only providing high-quality patient care, but to also ensure successful implementations, facilitate end user adoption, while producing overall better outcomes.”

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Stephanie Lenz, MSN, BSN (MSN 2015)

Stephanie Lenz, MSN, is Chief Clinical Information Officer at Children’s of Alabama, where, as she puts it, serves as an intermediary figure among professions in patient care.

“What I tell people is I am the middle ground between you taking care of the patient and the IT professionals who are working on your computer every day,” Lenz said. “I can use my clinical expertise and IT knowledge to merge the gap between the two, and it’s helpful to both sides to have multiple perspectives at the table.”

Lenz worked as a bedside nurse at Children’s, but entered her role as a nurse informatician when she was asked to help with a short-term IT project. Eight years later, she’s still in that role.

“I didn’t even fully know what informatics was until a few years into the project, so once I recognized that, I wanted to formalize everything I was doing at Children’s by going back for my MSN,” Lenz said.

The nursing informatics specialty prepared her to understand information technology and add that understanding to her experience as a bedside nurse. She also gained leadership and project management experience, and now serves as an adjunct instructor in the School.

“The connections I made also really helped me. Marisa Wilson is invaluable, even in my career to day. She’s an incredible mentor to me, and she keeps the program current,” Lenz said. “I’m a preceptor for a lot of programs in the state, and UAB students to this day stand out in the crowd.”

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Porsha Pettaway, MSN, RN (MSN 2017)

Alumna Porsha Pettaway, MSN, RN, is the facility telehealth coordinator and nurse manager at the Memphis VA Medical Center, where she is responsible for the planning, operation and execution of telehealth programs for faculty, including nine clinics. She also supervises a team of 16 RNs, LPNs and health technicians.

Informatics and telehealth are both important parts of health care, and in her role at the Memphis VA, Pettaway has seen how a telehealth produces positive patient outcomes.

“A large portion of my job is managing a home telehealth program, where nurses provide care coordination for chronic diseases through remote monitoring equipment located in the patient’s home. This program has had positive patient outcomes such as reduced hospital admissions for chronic conditions such as CHF, COPD and diabetes,” she said.

The UAB School of Nursing, Pettaway said, more than prepared her for this role.

“During my coursework in the informatics specialty, I learned and applied various theories and skills related to managing health care related information and the development of health care information systems,” she said. “I was exposed to systems development life cycles, information management and organizational and behavioral theories that I use daily.”

The size of the specialty — about 25 students in each cohort — allowed Pettaway to interact regularly with Specialty Track Coordinator Marisa Wilson, DNSc, MHSc, RN-BC, CPHIMS, FAAN, faculty and alumni. Conferences, networking opportunities and practicum experiences also enabled students to get real-world experience.


Last modified on March 22, 2019

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