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CU College of Nursing student Danielle Perley

Nursing Journey Begins During '08 Recession

Shaped by her mother’s battle with breast cancer, Perley’s nursing journey began during the ’08 recession

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Danielle Perley decided to pursue nursing after her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. “During her treatment, I got to know the nurses pretty well and appreciated the care she received.” Perley originally received a B.S. in Biology with a focus on genetics benchwork. “But after I got my degree, I couldn’t get a job due to the recession.” So, she pursued nursing and earned her second bachelor’s degree.


Mom Ellen, sister Nicole and Danielle

While her mother was battling cancer, Perley and her sister -- who was also pursuing nursing and halfway through her program -- made sure their mother received the best care possible. “Even though we advocated for her and understood the system and treatment, she relapsed and passed away in 2014.”

Tragedy leads to nursing career

This tragic experience solidified the sisters’ interest in oncology. Perley in pediatric oncology and her sister in adult oncology. “It’s very different to be on that side of care. Being knowledgeable about the system and the latest research and treatment protocols was really helpful during my mother’s battle. Everyone should have a health care worker in their family.”

Perley’s nursing career has included stints at Georgetown University Hospital and Boston Children’s where she joined governance councils and medication charting committees. Recognized early on by Georgetown as a superuser when it was moving from paper charting to electronic record keeping, Perley said, “I seem to have a knack for data and informatics, but also love helping patients and their families.” With more and more hospitals, clinics, and health care systems embracing data and computerized record-keeping, healthcare informatics is expanding. Since she started in the field in 2017, her team has doubled in size.

Because of its popularity, Perley chose to pursue her master’s degree from CU College of Nursing, specializing in Healthcare Informatics. “One reason I picked CU was because of its reputation. Dr. Diane Skiba is so well known in the field.” Skiba, now retired, built the foundation for the program’s ability to evolve to accommodate constant changes in the interdisciplinary informatics domain.

Bedside and computer skills prove to be unique combination

Perley’s bedside and computer skills are a unique combination. Having intimate knowledge of nursing and how departments work and what they need, as well as the questions to ask, put Perley at an advantage in customizing record-keeping and workflows. “What I do helps free up time for the nurses to interact with the patients and less with the computer. Making their day better.”

Even though she sometimes yearns for more patient interaction, she knows that “what I’m building is impacting care.” And as the world becomes more interoperable, it’s important for healthcare facilities to meet the current needs.

Now armed with her new degree, she is better able to assess the projects she’s assigned. “Before the program, I knew a limited amount. Now, I can review the project, requirements, and apply evidence-based theories and standards to the build and training I’m doing.“ For Perley, it’s like night and day. “I didn’t realize how much I didn’t know and how this degree would help me with my current job. I apply the concepts every day.”

Topics: Students