Willa Fields, DNSc, RN, FHIMSS


Dr. Willa Fields has been on the faculty at San Diego State University since 2006 and is a Professor in the School of Nursing. Willa teaches graduate courses in informatics, performance improvement, and healthcare policy and issues. Prior to her faculty position, Willa was the Vice President of Patient Care Systems in the Information Systems Department at Sharp HealthCare, an integrated delivery system in San Diego County, California.  She had responsibility for the patient care computer systems, including implementation of new core clinical systems. She also consults at Sharp Grossmont Hospital where she helps nursing staff with their evidence-based practice projects, research studies, and publications.

Willa has a diverse background in clinical nursing, education, research, performance improvement, management, and information systems. Her research area of interest is exploration of practices and tools that improve patient safety and the provision of patient care. Specific investigations include the effects of electronic health records and computerized provider order entry on nurses and nurses’ work.

Willa has also published widely in the professional literature. She received her Doctorate in Nursing Science from the University of San Diego and her Masters of Science in Nursing from San Diego State University. She is a past Chairwoman of the HIMSS Board of Directors and recipient of the HIMSS Nursing Informatics Leadership Award.



Presentation Details

Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Lessons Learned for Aspiring Female Executives

The health IT field has emerged as a distinct profession with meaningful and well-paying careers.  For women, achieving pay equity with their male counterparts and achieving positions at the highest levels in health organizations has proven difficult. This session hosts lessons learned, experiences, and counsel from female executives who have achieved much in the health IT field. What propelled these panelists to success – Ambition? Leadership?  Networking? Performance? Smarts?  How have these executives addressed personal, professional, and organizational challenges?  How can their success inspire others to excel not only in health IT, but other areas too?

Moderated by: Carla Smith, MA, CNM, FHIMSS, HIMSS Executive Vice President @CarlaMSmith


  • Dana Alexander, Divurgent @DanaN2Health
  • Diane M. Carr, MA, FHIMSS, Healthcare Executive and Educator
  • Willa Fields, DNSc, RN, FHIMSS, Professor at San Diego State University
  • Miriam Paramore, FHIMSS, Lucro Marketplace @miriamparamore
  • Jennifer Dennard, Founder, #HealthITChicks

Learning Objectives:

  • Discuss advancement strategies for female executives looking to excel in the health information technology field.
  • Evaluate different leadership styles of female executives and the impact they may have on their career path.
  • Discuss the impact that female executives can have an organization.