Nurses solve problems every day, whether it is at the bedside, out in the community or within various parts of the healthcare system. Nurses have a long history of prototyping and creating innovative solutions to care for their patients. Examples of nurse innovators throughout the last hundred years can be found in here.
More recently, Elizabeth Benson, MEd, RN, FCN, FACHT and Linda C. Goodman, MS, RN, CHSE utilized their nursing knowledge and brought innovation into nursing education. Benson and Goodman identified a need in the way new nurses are trained. As Benson explained, “One day in the simulation lab, one of our communications professors was filling in as an acting patient. During the scenario, the student nurse was placing an IV utilizing a simulation arm next to the patient, the patient yelled ‘ouch’! The startled student stepped back and said, “it was just a fake arm, why this reaction?”
It was in that moment that Benson and Goodman realized that there was room for improvement in nursing simulation. The current method was not capturing the true essence of nursing, focusing on the whole patient including the emotional state when having an IV inserted. This was the tipping point; They decided “We can do this differently and make the learning experience better.”
With fellow educator Jacqueline Bass, the two nurses began to prototype a solution to improve simulating IV starts. Gathering at Benson’s home they used flesh-like fabric, hot glue guns, a sewing machine and a multitude of other supplies and began to create.
What they ultimately developed was the first ReaLifeSim IV trainer. (https://www.bgei-educational.com/individual-task-trainers/ )
As Benson explained, nurses can be competent in their skills but they are truly successful when they have the confidence to perform those skills, and that is what the IV trainer can improve. Benson and Goodman have grown ReaLifeSim from a concept in the summer of 2015 to a globally sold product in early 2018. ReaLifeSim products are worn by real people to encourage better interpersonal communication or as an “add-on” to manikins for enhanced function and extended sustainability. These products include IV trainers and simulated blood vessels.
“If you are a nurse, paramedic, doctor, or any other healthcare provider and you identify a problem that needs solving, someone else is likely experiencing that same problem! If you create a solution, someone else wants to know what it is, and how you did it,” said Benson.
As a nurse intrigued by innovation and driven by the growing community of innovative nurses who share their solutions and work-arounds, I know prototyping will someday be a standard in nursing school curricula. Until then, it is my mission to spotlight nurses who have shared their solutions to inspire nurses working today to share their ideas. Together we can improve healthcare.
– Dr. Rose Hedges, DNP, RN
Nursing Informaticist from UnityPoint Health, St. Luke’s Hospital, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Rose utilizes her clinical expertise, computer technology, and information science to support innovation and champion change throughout the hospital.
Dr. Tiffany Kelley is Founder and CEO of Nightingale Apps, a health information technology company offering mobile applications to nurses working in hospital settings. She is also Founder and CEO of iCare Nursing Solutions LLC, which addresses the contemporary informatics needs of nurse leaders in health care organizations.
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