Path to Penn Nursing With Kenrick Cato, PhD, RN, CPHIMS, FAAN

Standing Faculty Clinician-Educator and Professor of Informatics at CHOP.

1. Born in Guyana, South America

Born in Guyana, South America as one of five siblings, spent first many years of childhood being raised by his grandmother. Parents immigrated to the U.S. and he followed with siblings around age seven. Grew up mainly in the New York City area.

2. Started taking college-level math and science classes in middle school; also developed a passion for computer coding

Was part of the gifted and talented program in middle school and started taking college-level math and science classes; also introduced to computer coding and developed a passion for this area. Mother worked as a nurse, and he would go to the hospital with her—inspired a lifelong interest in helping others.

3. Majored in Biology and Anthropology at Swarthmore College

Attended Swarthmore College and majored in Biology and Anthropology—wrote senior paper on the cultural constructions of infectious diseases and how public perception impacts public health.

4. Entered the world of healthcare data

Following stints in a Chicago lab and an IT department for a Philadelphia-based HMO, started his own business, Night Kitchen Media, creating multimedia projects. Jumped into the world of healthcare data as a consultant.

5. Enlisted in the Army as an Infantryman, then joined the National Guard to complete two tours

Due to long-time interest in community service and giving back, enlisted in the Army as an infantryman. Initially had planned to stay on with Night Kitchen but found striking the right balance difficult so sold his share of the business. Eventually joined the National Guard but was called to active duty again after September 11th attacks—completed two additional tours.

6. Left the Army to pursue a career path that combines healthcare, data, and tech fields

In 2004, started dating his now-wife and felt the time was right to leave the Army. Spoke with a good friend who was a nurse practitioner and ran the Swarthmore Health Center about interest in combining fields of healthcare, data, and tech. She encouraged him to pursue nursing. As a child of immigrants, was always pushed towards being a doctor but never felt a pull in that direction. Nursing was different.

7. Earned a BSN with a focus on projects to improve patience safety while using the hospital’s electronic systems

Enrolled in Columbia University’s second-degree BSN program and worked as a staff nurse at New York- Presbyterian Hospital during the night and as a clinical analyst during the day—with a focus on projects to improve patient safety using the hospital’s electronic systems.

8. Earned a PhD in Clinical Informatics at Columbia’s School of Nursing

Pursued a PhD in Clinical Informatics at Columbia’s School of Nursing, then joined their faculty as an assistant professor/nurse researcher looking at using data science to investigate ways of improving patient safety, quality of care, and individual health.

9. Arrived at Penn Nursing

Arrived at Penn Nursing in 2023 as Standing Faculty Clinician-Educator with a joint appointment as a Professor of Informatics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Committed to solving the ethnic/racial bias in clinical workflow and decision support and ensuring equitable health care on a national level.

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