The Rita D. Zielstorff Nursing Informatics Leadership Award

altRita Zielstorff is a pioneer and leader in many of the ‘firsts’ nursing informatics initiatives. Rita played a critical role at a crucial time in the development of the emerging field of nursing informatics, with her knowledge, expertise, research, and leadership. 

She worked in computer research at the Laboratory of Computer Science at MGH for 25 years doing grant funded research that involved the analysis, design, implementation, and evaluation of information systems related to health care. The outcomes of her research are well documented in the many publications that she authored and co-authored, many which are still being cited today.

One of Rita’s first published works appeared in the Journal of Nursing Administration in 1975 entitled, “The Planning and Evaluation of Automated Systems: A Nurses’s Point of View”. In 1980, when the world of computers was foreign to most nurses, Rita published the first book entitled Computers in Nursing. This book was translated into multiple languages. A dominant theme of Rita’s writings was the need for structured, re-usable data in nursing information systems. Her interest in structured data led to appointments on several committees of the American Nurses Association.

In 1984 when the American Nurses Association formed the Council on Computer Applications in Nursing she became one of the original five members on the first Executive Board. Rita has been recognized as an AMIA Nursing Informatics Working Group Pioneer and her contributions have been documented by the AMIA NIWG Nursing Informatics History Project. Because of her many contributions in the field of health care informatics, Rita was one of the first nurses to become an American College of Medical Informatics (ACMI) fellow. She was also elected as a fellow into the American Academy of Nursing.

Rita’s interest in developing future practitioners of nursing informatics prompted her to establish a Nursing Informatics Fellowship. Several Fellows completed the program and went on to become prominent practitioners. Each and every one of us have benefited from Rita Zielstorff’s leadership and commitment to nursing informatics.

After such an incredible career, Rita continues to contribute and nurture Nursing Informatics in the New England area. Because of the breath, depth and the significance of the work that Rita has done in Nursing Informatics it is our honor, as the NENIC Board Of Directors, on behalf of the entire NENIC organization, to name this award in her honor.  

Denise Goldsmith MS, MPH, RN
NENIC Board Member
Chief Nursing Informatics’ Officer
Brigham and Woman’s Hospital
Boston, Mass.