Nurse led innovation

Examining Nurse-Led Innovation

Given the intimate knowledge nurses have of the healthcare system it is unsurprising that nurses are often at the core of healthcare innovation. For me, nurse-led innovation is not just the development of new technologies but also the advocacy and research led by nurses to allow space for innovation. I believe that nurse-led innovation also includes small solutions to everyday problems experienced by floor nurses, such as ensuring a toddler does not pick at their wound dressing. Whether its nurses tackling wicked problems with policy change and advocacy or floor nurses working to change their daily practices, nurse-led innovation is making waves in the healthcare system. Throughout this piece, I will speak to both the large-scale innovations I have seen and the smaller-scale innovations, which have both led to better outcomes for our patients. I also will continue to speak to the importance of giving nursing a seat at the table because, given the opportunity, nurses can continue to revolutionize healthcare.

Global Perspectives: ICN Congress

ICNOne example of large-scale nursing innovation that I have had the opportunity to experience was at the International Council of Nursing’s (ICN) Congress in Montreal this summer. The ICN brought together thousands of nurse leaders across the globe to discuss critical nursing and healthcare issues. Throughout this congress, many fantastic speakers discussed their research and how they have developed solutions to large-scale problems such as nursing recruitment and retention. I saw nurse advocacy at the highest level, such as ICN leaders advocating to the Canadian Prime Minister for nurse-led clinics throughout Canada to address the primary care provider shortage throughout Canada. In attending the ICN, I also had the opportunity to hear Leigh Chapman, the Chief Nursing Officer of Canada, speak about her ideas to improve large-scale healthcare concerns within Canada. Thousands of nurses within Canada gathered to discuss and develop solutions to shared global nursing concerns. Attending an event like this left me inspired. Hearing people like the Chief Nursing Officer of Ukraine speak about how their nurses band together to provide patient care despite working in awe, left me inspired and motivated to create change in the system. However, upon returning to the floor, many of my colleagues felt that given all the fires they put out daily on their units, they often don’t have the opportunity to engage in larger-scale innovation within the healthcare system. This led me to reflect on the smaller-scale innovation I have seen nurses engage in daily that often go unrecognized.

Small-Scale Solutions, Big Impact

Nicole on siteIn working on adolescent mental health, innovation is a must, as adolescents are a hard audience to please. I have seen many of my colleagues rise to the challenge within this role. For example, one of my colleagues noticed that evening groups were often underdeveloped on the unit and did not contribute to adolescent treatment goals. Therefore, she took action to update and reinvent our lesson plans and suggest tips and tricks for engagement. Evening groups significantly increased and helped adolescents progress in their mental health recovery. As a staff nurse at the time, seeing my colleagues work to create change in our unit was motivating and exciting. It inspired me and other colleagues to develop new groups to be included in the binder. This nurse’s hard work also improved patient outcomes as they continued to receive therapeutic groups in the evening instead of only throughout the day.

Innovative Approaches to Patient Care

In other units where I have worked, I have seen nurses utilize unconventional means to increase patient well-being despite chaotic environments. Working in the pediatric emergency department, I have seen nurses use many unconventional ways to improve comfort and reduce fear in this population, such as making balloons out of gloves or making fidgets to add to their lanyards. I have seen nurses devise inventive cling wrap dressing for pediatric burn patients. For example, I have seen nurses make shirts out of a burn net to prevent our little ones from picking at the dressing. In turn, reducing the risk of infection to those sites and ensuring patient comfort. I have seen nurses develop creative solutions to help wandering patients settle, such as giving them tasks that provide them with a sense of purpose. In tight situations, I have witnessed nurses work together to use non-conventional equipment, such as creating a pressure bag from a tongue depressor and a tourniquet. Or all the fantastic ways nurses innovated throughout the pandemic, such as utilizing Facetime to bring families together when visitation was not allowed.

A Nurse’s Role

Seeing this daily, I consider these small innovations and ideas to be a part of nursing’s role. However, upon reflection, these little innovations significantly impact the patient experience and inspire creativity within the nursing team. Nurses are the backbone of healthcare, and given the amount of time we spend with our patients, it is unsurprising that nurses are quick to come up with creative and unconventional solutions. Throughout this article, I wanted to draw attention to the small innovations nurses do every day and the hard work nurse leaders do to solve wicked problems. Nurses continue to demonstrate why they deserve a seat at the table. Leadership needs to continue to utilize nursing perspectives to ensure that solutions are attainable, practical and patient-centered.

unnamed (4)Author: Nicole Tailby

Nicole is a registered nurse currently pursuing her Master of Nursing at the University of Alberta. When asked by her supervisor about the potential of collaborating with Health Cities, Nicole happily agreed and was excited to take a step away from the bedside to explore other areas of healthcare and health research. Alongside her education, Nicole is working with a team of researchers at the University of Alberta, in collaboration with the Health Cities team, to explore care and caring for those with complex mental illnesses. Through this research, Nicole and her team worked to develop spaces to have intentional conversations about caring, leading to the creation of caring cafes.