Nurses Can and Do Lead Healthcare Innovation

2019 Nursing Innovation Summit provides inspiration

During her opening remarks at the 7th Annual Nursing Innovation Summit in October, Cleveland Clinic’s Executive Chief Nursing Officer K. Kelly Hancock, DNP, RN, NE-BC,FAAN, told the crowd, “Innovation isn’t just another task. It’s a mindset.” That mindset was front-and-center at the day-long event, where nearly 200 nursing professionals from around the country gathered to discover how to become innovative thinkers, hear about successful nursing inventions and learn methods for moving ideas to implementation.

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Keynote speaker Rebecca Love, MSN, BS, RN, FIEL, kicked off the Nursing Innovation Summit with an inspiring message for nurses, who represent healthcare’s largest profession with 3.8 million RNs nationwide. “We must give greater recognition to nursing expertise, knowledge and problem-solving to drive changes in healthcare,” said Love. “The truth is there is no one better to solve the challenges that are blocking healthcare from moving forward than nursing.”

Love encouraged attendees to embrace innovation and shared her own experiences of bringing ideas to light, including formation of the Society of Nurse Scientists, Innovators, Entrepreneurs & Leaders (SONSIEL). Founded earlier this year, the society is an international platform to create new opportunities and recognition for nurses with healthcare innovations. SONSIEL is an associate member of The Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations to the United Nations, allowing members to raise the importance of innovation as a means to creating worldwide impact on solutions to healthcare issues.

Nurses are uniquely positioned to change the face of healthcare with novel ideas that come to them on a daily basis. “Every day you put your lives at risk to help others and in doing so, you create new ideas and better ways to do things that can save patient lives time and time again,” asserted Love. “Give a nurse a roll of tape and stand back!”

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During panel discussions throughout the Nursing Innovation Summit, nurse innovators shared stories of taking that proverbial roll of tape – and much more – and creating solutions to problems on their units, in their hospitals and around the country. Some of the innovations included the following:

  • Roxana Reyna, RN, RNC-NIC, CWOCN, a skin and wound care specialist at Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas, created a dressing for babies born with giant omphaloceles to promote healing and keep the tissue clean and stable until surgery can be performed.
  • Danielle Bastien, DNP, RN, FNP-BC, tackled the epidemic of human trafficking by developing guidelines and assessment tools for emergency department nurses, which led to formal training and hospital policy for all ED physicians and nurses across the Henry Ford Health System where she works.
  • Elizabeth Mikula, MSN, RN, CPN, CPHQ, and a team of nurses in pediatric cardiology at Children’s National Health System began using pulse oximeters to detect low oxygen levels in newborns’ blood, a sign of congenital heart disease (CHD). Based on their success identifying babies with CHD, they developed the CHD Screening Program (CHDSP) Toolkit. The screening protocol has since been adopted by all 50 states, and the pulse ox screening saves 120 babies each year.

These and other nurses join a long lineage of nurse innovators. In her afternoon keynote address, Bonnie Clipper, DNP, MBA, MA, RN, CENP, FACHE, named several nursing inventions, ranging from the crash cart to color-coded IV lines and ostomy bags.

“Nurses have been innovators for a very long time, but we often aren’t called that word,” said Dr. Clipper, who previously served as the first vice president of innovation for the American Nurses Association. “We use the words ‘MacGyver’ and ‘work-around.’ We don’t call ourselves innovators, but it’s part of the vocabulary we need to adopt.” Dr. Clipper offered advice to help nurses move their ideas into practice, some of which is included in a 2016 white paper she co-authored as a Robert Woods Johnson Executive Nurses Fellow called The Innovation Road Map: A Guide for Nurse Leaders.

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The 2019 Nursing Innovation Summit urged and inspired attendees to seize the moment and shape the future of healthcare. “It’s important for nurses to be involved in healthcare innovations,” said Nancy Albert M. Albert, Ph.D., CCNS, CHFN, CCRN, NE-BC, FAHA, FCCM, FHFSA, FAAN, Associate Chief Nursing Officer of Nursing Research and Innovation at Cleveland Clinic. “It’s up to us here today – and in the future – to help our colleagues understand the future of healthcare innovation and to understand that [the future] is now.”