Education and Nutrition Informatics

My experience with nutrition informatics began after I graduated from school and started working in a hospital. All the pharmacists were using handheld devices called personal digital assistants, or PDAs, to access drug information. At the same time, my nephew was heading off to college and wanted his own PDA to take with him. Well, if I was going to buy one for my nephew, surely I needed one for myself, too!

Not only was this new device good for playing games and organizing my contacts, I could also use it at work to look up drugs and calculate tube feedings. Boy, was I happy. In 2004, I completed my thesis:  "The Use of Personal Digital Assistants among Dietitians and Dietetic Students in the State of Oklahoma."

My interest in nutrition informatics didn't end there. Since 2009, I have been an assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. I spend the majority of my time figuring out how to engage students in the learning process. Besides having all of their course work online, I also try to get them used to online research using digital textbooks, the Nutrition Care Manual and the eNCPT. I am also in charge of the OUHSC Nutritional Sciences Facebook and Twitter accounts, in which I acknowledge award-winning students, send activity announcements and encourage students to share all the fun things they are doing in the program.

I remain passionate about introducing technology to students. It's not just about how they can use their cellphones, it's about introducing them to how they will be practicing in the future. Our department purchased a CorTrak MedSystem a few years ago. Not only can I talk to students about whether or not dietitians should be able to drop feeding tubes, they can actually try it! I also am working with Cerner Academic EHR to implement an electronic health record for use in the classroom.

Another large part of my time is spent advancing the profession among colleagues and professionals in other disciplines. By collaborating with groups such as EPIC, TIGER and AMIA, I get to bring the worlds of informatics and inter-professional practice together to improve patient care.

I am fortunate to have a department that supports the two areas I am passionate about: informatics and inter-professional practice.

Peggy Turner on Twitter
Peggy Turner
Peggy Turner, MS, RD/LD, FAND, is an assistant professor and didactic program director for OUHSC in Oklahoma City, Okla.