Answering the Call: A One-On-One Interview With An IT Service Desk Clinical Nurse Analyst

When physicians call Stoltenberg's 2020 Best in KLAS Tier 1+ Service Desk, they connect with clinically consultative health systems analysts. These analysts are real people, not a robotic queue, with direct hospital experience and specific EHR vendor certification. To provide a deeper lens into an analyst on the other side of the call line, we sat down with Cindy, a Senior Epic Clinical Nurse Analyst. As an Epic-certified registered nurse (RN), she holds a medical surgical, ICU and ER background, specializing in computerized physician order entry (CPOE) and clinical documentation. The following is our one-on-one interview with Cindy diving into her impressive 22-year health IT career:


Q:  Cindy, what made you want to work in healthcare?

A:  I have always been interested in assisting others. Becoming a nurse allowed me the opportunity to make a positive difference in others' lives. When the end users call in and describe their issues, I make sure to communicate that I am on their side. I have their best interests at heart; I work for them.


Q:  How did you transition from being a RN into the health IT side?

A:  Transitioning to the IT side was relatively easy for me. I was very familiar with computers and saw the value in time-saving workflows. Early on, I championed the cause of using the EHR at the patient's bedside for tasks like filling out an admission assessment to eliminate work effort redundancy and challenged my co-workers to do the same. I decided to go into IT because I wanted clinicians with real life experience to build in the EHR system. Workflow processes often get lost in translation. Clinicians are the gatekeepers of knowledge who work many different scenarios that non-clinicians are not aware of.


Q:  What do you like about working in health IT?

A:  Health IT is very exciting; there are so many opportunities. I love traveling, working with clients, and sharing my knowledge and experience. Health IT is constantly evolving especially with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced us to adjust how we work with end users, clinicians and patients. Clinicians, analysts and end users are discovering all new ways of connecting while navigating through these ever-changing times.


Q:  Do you have any memorable end-user interactions from the Service Desk?

A:  The most memorable experience was an end user who called during the COVID-19 crisis. He was an employee of the hospital. He and his whole family were being tested. He was very upset and frightened regarding his test results. After explaining how MyChart test results work and the time it takes to see the results in the EHR, I talked through the situation with him as a nurse. I reassured him and listened to all of his concerns. He immediately felt better knowing he was speaking with a clinician who could be empathetic to the situation, redirect his anxiety with knowledge, and listen without judgement.


Q:  What are some important best practices for handling end-user support on the Service Desk?

A:  The most important practice seems simple, but people often struggle with listening. Listen with care compassion and empathy. Let the end users know you care about their concerns— that their concerns are important no matter the situation. Respect is such a simple, yet underestimated term that goes hand in hand with listening. Show them respect by not interrupting while they carefully explain the situation. Patience is key as well. Be patient with end users no matter how upset they may seem.



"I had an issue with the Philips monitor and Epic communicating vitals all night during my shift. I was lucky enough to get Cindy. Cindy is such a breath of fresh air. She understood my issue immediately, validated that the issue should have been resolved overnight, and escalated it for me promptly. I appreciate that she did not blow me off but cared enough to help me solve this promptly. I have never met Cindy and only interacted with her over the phone for less than 10 minutes, but I can tell she embodies our NM values and beliefs and truly is all about being a team player. What a phenomenal team member you have."

—NMC DuPage Hospital ICU Nurse feedback



Q:  Why do you think the Service Desk function is important?

A:  The service desk allows healthcare organizations the unique ability to place the heavy lifting onto our shoulders to help alleviate internal team burnout and aid facilities with limited IT staffing. With our help, internal IT teams are free to concentrate on priority tasks within their organization. We take pride in what we do for our clients. We want to give them the best service possible as an extension of their team and health system values.


Q:  How has your RN experience aided your daily work on the Service Desk?

A:  Being an RN has given me the great opportunity to connect in a special way with the clinicians that call in. When I explain to them, "I am a registered nurse. I have been in your shoes, and I understand," it brings a new meaning to the call. We can speak in medical terms in a common language we both inherently understand. They are immediately more relaxed and at ease. I truly understand the importance of the call and see it from a clinical perspective.


Q:  How have end-user needs adjusted during COVID-19?

A:  The end users have faced many challenges during COVID-19. Many have gone from working in a facility to working from home with remote meetings with patients and staff. Their dedication adaptability and willingness to be flexible has continued to impress me daily.


Q:  What's a fun fact or something you're proud of beyond your daily role?

A:  November 30, 2019, I decided to make a change in my life. I decided it was time to get healthy. I started small. By making small changes in my diet and increasing my activity level, I have lost 69 pounds. If you set your mind to something with diligence and determination, you can accomplish anything. I apply that same motto into my everyday work too.


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