Nurse-led research on EMR highlights the value of including nurses in all stages of implementation

When Monash Health embarked on the substantial task of implementing an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) throughout the organisation, Rebecca Jedwab, then a Cardiothoracic Nurse, was seconded into the Nursing and Midwifery Informatics team to undertake a scoping review of nursing research related to EMR implementations. This led to Rebecca deciding to study how implementing new technology, such as the EMR, impacts nurses and their work.

Rebecca recently received her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) (Nursing) degree at Deakin University. She aims to support nurses and midwives in their work by continuously evaluating and improving practices.

“As I continued my clinical nursing experience, my passion for research, supporting nursing work with evidence-based practice, and mentorship grew. Successfully obtaining a Monash Health Emerging Researcher Fellowship ensured opportunities that supported my research aspirations, such as protected time to set up a larger research project and mentorship from a nurse researcher,” Rebecca said.

Her three years of research highlights the fact that motivation is the key behavioural driver for nurses to use the EMR and the importance of including nurses in all implementation stages, ongoing assessment and optimisation, as nurses are both key clinical stakeholders and end-users.

Rebecca found that a lot of literature from abroad suggested nurses are often not consulted enough in the process, but in her experience at Monash Health, that wasn’t the case.

She noted that before the EMR was implemented, there was a high level of engagement through all levels and clinical areas, which was critical given Monash Health was implementing one of the biggest EMR go-lives in the Southern Hemisphere.

In her new role as a Nursing and Midwifery Informatics Officer, Rebecca collaborates with nurses and midwives across the organisation to understand clinical requirements and evaluate changes to EMR and clinical information systems.

Moving forward, Rebecca said she will use her research findings to inform her team’s work and practices and figure out how to help and support the organisation.

“We need to make it the best we can. We must make it user-friendly and safe. Most important is the EMR’s role in supporting nurses to deliver high quality patient care” she said.

Reflecting on her research journey, Rebecca said that collecting data during the COVID-19 pandemic proved challenging, as she had to ensure the process of collecting feedback from nurses on the EMR didn’t impede their day-to-day priorities.

Rebecca’s PhD research has resulted in six published papers and numerous recommendations for improving practices. Along the way, she has also collected a long list of prestigious awards and funding to support her research including a PhD scholarship from Deakin University’s Institute for Health Transformation, Australian Legion of Ex-Servicemen and Women Scholarship from the Australian Nurses Memorial Centre, Nurses Board of Victoria Legacy Limited Leadership Grant and PhD grant from the Victorian Nurses and Midwives Trust.

“I want both my PhD findings and research work within the Nursing and Midwifery Informatics team to support nurses across the healthcare organisation with their work and make nursing care more visible,” Rebecca said. “I hope being a nurse researcher can support other nurses and advocate for our profession and nursing research.”

Rebecca is grateful for the Monash Health Emerging Researcher Fellowship*, which is specifically for people who don’t have doctorates or are early career researchers.

“It allows you to work on a project, ideally one which would then be developed into a larger PhD study, with the support and guidance of a research mentor,” she said.

For nurses who would like to get involved or lead research, Rebecca encourages them to find a mentor or look at how other nurses have started their research journey.

She adds that there are post-graduate studies in research and lots of practical short courses to get started.

“It is a fantastic career, an amazing way to contribute to our profession, and ensures the continuous improvement of patient safety and quality of care delivery,” she said.

Despite the challenges of juggling her part-time role of working one day per week while completing her PhD, Rebecca feels fortunate to have had the support of her leadership team at Monash Health to continue contributing to the Nursing and Midwifery Informatics team.

She encourages other nurses to get involved in research and emphasises the need for more nurse-led research to assure representation across craft groups and minimise gaps between research and its use in healthcare settings.

The Monash Health Emerging Researcher Fellowship is just one of the ways you can grow and diversify your career at Monash Health. Explore exciting career opportunities and view our latest vacancies on the Monash Health Careers website.

*The selection for the 2023 Emerging Researcher Fellowship candidates is underway. Next round of applications opens in early January and usually closes in early to the middle of April.