PhD in Nursing
Jason Fratzke, MSN, RN
"I can use what we discuss in class almost weekly in my job”
As the chief nursing informatics officer for the entire Mayo Clinic enterprise, Jason Fratzke is immersed in helping lead a clinic-wide transition to a new, single electronic health record system. He says his experience as a bedside nurse, an administrator and a PhD student at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing all contributed to his preparation for this massive project.
“We are implementing a single and converged EHR system for the first time, meaning we have to all move together,” he said. “When we go live, every nurse on the inpatient side will have their own smart phone. We will be able to do things we have never been able to do.”
He says the PhD program at the School of Nursing has been particularly relevant to his work at the Mayo Clinic, a world-renowned research-intensive organization with facilities in Wisconsin, Iowa, Arizona, Florida and Minnesota.
There have been many instances, he says, when PhD coursework was directly applicable to something happening at work. “I’m living and breathing it while I’m learning. Whether it was around data vocabulary, standardization and classification of data, research methodologies – it all applies,” he said.
“The PhD education gives me a leg up in committees and other groups at Mayo,” he said. “I understand the vernacular, the research implications and am always able to contribute to the conversation, represent nursing and lead the conversation in some cases.”
In his role, Fratzke has gotten to know his CNIO peers around the country. “People in my field know the University of Minnesota is the place to be for nursing informatics. The faculty are highly respected leaders in this field.”
Fratzke’s interest in informatics can be traced back to his early experiences in nursing. “Ever since my first job in nursing, I have been that guy everyone would always come to first when there was a problem with the technology,” he said. “I like figuring things out. Health care technology has evolved so radically in the 21 years that I have been a nurse. I grew up with it.”
Fratzke started his nursing career as a pediatric nurse and then became an emergency room nurse manager while he earned a master’ degree in nursing at the University of Minnesota. This early management experience gave him a taste of leadership and helped him see how effective management could impact the outcomes and culture of a health system.
“I got a taste of leadership early,” he said. “While I missed the direct patient care, I understood it could have a greater impact, a different kind of impact.”
Fratzke says he feels fortunate to be able to have an impact at Mayo Clinic.
While his job is demanding and the PhD program has been challenging, he maintains that his family, including three young children, are his number one priority.
He looks forward to completing the PhD program next year and is keeping an open mind about the future.