Tonya Calilung (she/her) - WGU MSN Nursing Informatics Alumna
Tonya Calilung started her RN-to-MSN program at WGU in Nursing Informatics as a bedside nurse. What she really loved about this degree was how it enabled her to, “be the data jockey and the geek that I am, and to learn how to speak the language of the people I’m working with to convince them to make needed change.” Tonya proposed to her WGU Program Mentor a capstone project to improve how patient data is captured from patients in the LGBTQ population. Although her mentor cautioned Tonya that the topic would present challenges from a research perspective, the mentor was highly supportive. Tonya’s thought was, “This data has to be collected, and it has to start at the hospitals.” Her objective was to create a plan that hospitals would be able to pick up and implement. She titled her project: “Breaking the Binary, It’s More Than Just Pronouns: Creating a Clinical Decision Support Tool as a First Step to Updating the Electronic Medical Record for Safer Transgender Care.”
Tonya’s paper is meant to be Phase I. In her current role working in research in strokes and neurosurgical studies at University of Louisville School of Medicine, Tonya’s hospital mentor applauded her efforts and appreciated how her research opened her eyes. They are taking her work and trying to implement it in the hospital. Ultimately, Tonya’s objective is to keep this work going. “It’s life and death. It really does impact so many things, and doctors aren’t aware because they think, ‘It’s just their pronouns.’” Tonya will continue to integrate these concerns in her work, which affects both her university system and its third-party partners. Her hope is to achieve enough positive impacts and outcomes at her hospital that the work will spread to improve the clinical experience for nonbinary and trans patients. In closing, Tonya wanted to recognize her WGU mentor, Ashley Broadway, for her support throughout her program and her passionate advocacy for her capstone project. “I recommend WGU to absolutely everyone I can. I’ve never felt so supported.”
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