I’m Proud to Be a NIRD

Photo: Cathy Yeulet/iStock/Thinstock

I am a "nutrition informatics registered dietitian" — a NIRD … (I love this play on words, because I'm also a nerd)! To me, informatics not only means an affinity for technology — including computers, electronic health records (EHR), smartphones and gadgets — but also taking things a step further and using data and to get the best out of technology.

My background is in clinical dietetics. I started in a hospital working in pediatrics and neonatology, then did a few years of WIC and public health nutrition, followed by general clinical nutrition in a smaller community hospital. To supplement my part-time work, I've done some consulting work as well.

Being a NIRD is who I am. I'm a technology early adopter: the first among my friends, family and colleagues who purchased a cell phone (it came in a bag); one of the first to purchase a smartphone; and the first dietitian where I work to ask the questions about EHR.  

When our hospital division choose Epic as our new EHR, I got the assignment to be the Epic super user. (As an RD, I feel privileged to hold this role. In most cases, super users are nurses.) Super users are typically the first trained on the system and the first to test it out. Then, super users serve as a resource for others in their department, answering when questions arise. If you'd like to learn more, here is an archived article from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality regarding super users.

Every day, as I chart in the EHR, I think, "How can this be done more efficiently?" And, "What else can we do to help ensure that patients' nutrition data follows them to be seen by other health practitioners?" These questions lead me to volunteer on the Academy's Nutrition Informatics Committee and to take the American Medical Informatics Association's "10×10" class in collaboration with the Academy.

I've learned a lot, but I still realize there is so much more to learn. Join me on the Academy's Nutrition Informatics Community of Interest and embrace your own NIRDiness! 

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Jean Bouche
Jean Bouche, RD, CD, is a clinical dietitian and epic super user at HSHS St. Mary's Hospital in Green Bay, Wisc. Follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter.