How to Work at the Top of Your License

by Mary Kay Thalken, RN, MBA on Oct 31, 2017

man sitting in chair holding an ipadA lot has been said about the concept of “automating healthcare.” As in any situation where progress butts up against age-old practice and tradition, change doesn’t always come easy. Yet the pace at which innovation and technology impact healthcare delivery can no longer be ignored, and most of us wouldn’t want to.

Henry Ford once said if he had asked the general populace what they most needed in the area of transportation, the majority would have said, “a faster horse.” Think of technology as today’s “horseless carriage” that has passed numerous test drives, has been on the open road for a long while and has just stopped to open the door and pick you up. Sure, you may be hesitant to jump in for the ride, but if you don’t, the pace at which technology is used in healthcare suggests you’d best prepare to be left behind.


Becker’s Health IT & CIO Review identified the 10 biggest technological advancements in the last decade:


  1. The electronic health record
  2. mHealth
  3. Telemedicine/tele-health
  4. Portal technology
  5. Self-service kiosks
  6. Remote monitoring tools
  7. Sensors and wearable technology
  8. Wireless communication
  9. Real-time locating services
  10. Pharmacogenomics/genome sequencing


Three years have passed since that list was created, and many new and innovative solutions have already emerged (3-D printing; robotics; clinical decision support). What each of these advancements have in common is the ability to optimize processes and workflows, giving back precious time so clinicians can do what they do best – positively impact patient care by working at the very top of their licenses. 

“Top of license,” though somewhat of a catchphrase, refers to making sure clinical care staff members perform the activities their clinical licensure and personal potential enable them to do.

In the absence of technology, physicians once spent valuable time charting in pen and ink or dictating notes. Nurses who might have used a mercury-filled thermometer to gauge a patient’s body temperature can now use an electronic device that provides a more accurate and less invasive alternative to capturing important vitals. Case managers who once spent hours standing at a fax machine to transmit patient records can send secure packets electronically at the click of a mouse.


In Summary


No matter what role you play in the delivery of patient care, working at “top of license” should be the ultimate goal. Allowing clinicians and clinical staff to put their minds, talents and time to the best possible use in diagnosing and caring for patients means delegating less impactful duties to subordinates. It’s time to consider technology as your most dependable, tireless subordinate in the overall scheme of healthcare delivery. By embracing automated solutions to manual processes, clinicians can be free to use their innate talents and learned skills to the fullest.

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Meet the Author

Thalken brings more than 30 years of experience in health-care leadership to our company. Prior to joining the company, she served as Enterprise Vice President for Care Logistics in Atlanta, Ga. She has held executive leadership positions at hospitals in Nebraska and Iowa, including the position of System Quality Executive for Alegent Health. Thalken has presented on the topics of improving quality, patient flow and throughput at various industry conferences and webinars. Thalken holds an MBA from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives, American Organization of Nurse Executives and American Case Management Association.