From Nurse to Health Informatician

September 1, 2017

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Moving from nursing to health informatics has been a very fulfilling journey. Pivoting my career towards the health technology world has led to many unexpected changes. Here is a pictorial representation of how my life has changed since entering the MHI program!

Studying as a Nurse:

Desk and laptop with textbooks
Image by Allie May, 2013

When I think of nursing school, I think of my 1000+ page textbooks. Most of my classes required physical textbooks and many of my classmates kept them after graduation to use as a resource. I’ve kept most of mine as well but am fully guilty of just Googling information I need instead of checking the books!

Studying as a MHI Student:

Foreground image of UofT mug, in background image of laptop screen
Photo by Allie May, 2016 (unsponsored product placement of University of Toronto mug!)

The MHI program utilizes mostly online resources and texts, which are a lot easier to carry to class!

Assessments as a Nurse:

Although both professions value and emphasize strong collaboration, there are differences in the prevalence of group work during schooling. Particularly at the beginning of nursing school, most assessments were individual and tested your ability to apply your own nursing skills to clinical situations. As the program went on, there was more group work but most classes still culminated in traditional written exams that were created with the aim of preparing students for the nursing licensing exam (the NCLEX).

Robotic patient on bed for nursing simulation
Nursing Simulation Lab with a robotic simulated “patient”, 2014. Photo by Allie May
Image of Allie May, author holding NCLEX results
The moment I received my passed NCLEX results in the mail! Photo by Allie May, 2016.

Assessments as a MHI Student:

Assessments in the MHI program are much more team-based and usually consist of presentations and reports. Due to the nature of our classwork, as well as the small class size, our cohort has grown very close. We’ve fostered real friendships that support mutual mentorships and will help us transition into our careers.

Group shot of Allie May and MHI students enjoying ice cream
Getting ice cream after our last class of the second semester, 2017. Photo by Alex Gao.


Nursing and health informatics both encapsulate a variety of different career pathways. Because both fields are so vast, it is really up to the individual to decide how much, and where, they want to invest their careers. Being surrounded by incredibly talented, resourceful, and intelligent people in both the nursing and health informatics fields has motivated me to continue pushing myself out of my comfort zone and reach for my dreams.

…as a nurse:

Allie May, author in scrubs and face mask
After assisting in an oncological surgery, 2014. Photo by Allie May.
Allie May, author with class mates in front of exhibit
Presenting with nursing classmates at York University about the dangers of mixing alcohol and medications, 2015. Photo by Idil Abdi.
Group shot of Allie May with fellow nursing students in Norway
On exchange, studying Global Health in Norway, 2015. Photo by Nhi Nguyen.

…as a MHI Student

Name tags for Google Conference of Women Disruptors
Attending a talk at Google Canada on Women Disruptors, 2017. Photo by Allie May.
Group of MHI students winning prize
First place at the Master of Health Informatics Student Group’s Health Innovation Case Competition. Photo by Jess Ellig, 2017.
Name tags with author's name Allie May
Collection of name tags just from the first MHI semester’s events, 2016. Photo by Allie May.
Image of Yellowknife and buildings with cloudy grey sky
Arriving back in Yellowknife after a business trip to Edmonton! Photo by Allie May, 2017
Desk with papers in disarray and laptop open
My desk of organized chaos in Yellowknife. Photo by Allie May, 2017
Street in Yellowknife with houses and smoky grey and cloudy sky above
Smoky skies due to wildfires, on my way to work in Yellowknife. Photo by Allie May, 2017

When I first decided to shift my career into the health informatics field, I expected to face certain challenges. I knew that transitioning back into the student role for my Master’s will involve increased awareness of learning opportunities and also further decision-making collaboration with a preceptor. What I didn’t expect to find is that being a nurse is much more similar to being a health informatician than I originally thought…both roles have the potential to make a significant positive impact in the world. It’s all in the opportunities.

-Allie Margaret May, MHI

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