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A Passion for Technology in Healthcare - Antoinette Thomas, CNO

Antoinette Thomas

 

I was always a closet science lover. I say “closet” because during my school years, it wasn’t encouraged for girls to explore science. Some might argue they’re still not. But I always loved science, especially biological science – anatomy and physiology. I was fortunate to have a biology teacher who made a tremendous impact on me as a student. He took the time and cared enough to notice that I was good at science, and helped me foster my skills in that area.

When I began academic life, I had no ties to medicine and hadn’t even considered

nursing. I went into my first year of college, studying textile sciences. Six months into it I was miserable, and knew I had to make a change. I took a semester off and put time and thought into my future and my purpose. I didn’t want to give up science; it was in my bones. I thought about my legacy and ways I could impact the world in a positive way. I also recognized that I loved the challenge of quick thinking and critical decisions. I loved using a growing bank of knowledge to make rapid-fire decisions under pressure. The world of critical care spoke to my passion for quick decision-making. Thus, the nursing seed was planted. I applied and was accepted to nursing school, and my time there validated that it was the right choice for me.

An opportunity opened for me in pediatric critical care. At that interview, I was struck by the abundance of technology and the fragility of these tiny, vulnerable babies whose survival depended on it. I didn’t know if I had it in me. But when they offered me the job, I never looked back.

Even then, the amount of technology in the space was eye-opening, and it was saving lives. I spent 17 years in that environment, watching technology evolve and watching babies become children and adults because of what we, and our technology, did for them.

What started with a passion for biological science grew into a passion for technology. It must have been obvious to my peers; I was chosen for technology committees and testing, and was always a super user for emerging healthcare technologies.

Working so closely with technology binds you to it, and shows you how much is possible with data collection and understanding. All of these devices and computers are helping us complete tasks, but more importantly, they’re helping us learn. The devices we use hold all the secrets to our own behavior, motivations and flaws. Technology can tell us so much if we listen. The morsels of data that come from technology have the power to help patients, doctors, nurses and even families.

Just as a stethoscope is a healthcare tool, so is the technology we build and imagine for the future. By focusing on a career in technology, I can help thousands of patients at a time, versus one or two at a time like I did in the hospital.

Nursing is truly the noblest of professions, and I’m honored to be one. I hope the advances we’re all working toward in technology can give nurses more tools, more data and more satisfaction in the way we all care for people.

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