With all of the negative memes circulating the web, you would think nothing good has come from the year 2020. We have been inundated with news of the wildfires in Australia, accelerated global warming, increased racial tensions, sky-high unemployment – and of course Covid-19 – one of the worst pandemics in recorded history.
Sure- Pack it in. 2020 is a wash. Right? Wrong.
2020 Year of the Nurse – The World Health Organization designated 2020 as the year of the nurse and midwife. There could not have been a better time to celebrate the amazing work nurses do and the skills that make them the beating heart of humanity. While we did not get the year we were expecting, we sure got the year we have been preparing for.
Nurses innovate. It is what we do. Innovation is a byproduct of nursing at its core. We problem-solve on a minute by minute basis with efficiency and safety as the underlying goal. Every time you use medical tape to string up an IV line, or a safety pin to keep an NG tube from pulling, you are innovating.
Covid-19 has showcased and magnified nurses’ ability to innovate in ways we could have never imagined. When it seemed the virus could not get any worse, nurses around the globe sprang into action. From navigating unconventional mask and PPE procurement channels, to utilizing 3D printers and other tools to fabricate face shields, ear-guards, and ventilator parts, to leveraging video chat technologies that allows families to see their Covid-stricken loved ones. Nurses took the virus head-on and proved why we are arguably the most dynamic, compassionate, and creative profession in the world. The innovative ripples of 2020 will be felt for years to come.
Nurses excel, nurses lead, and nurses innovate.
Here are 19 ways you can innovate today:
- Have an open mind: Try to see things for the first time, every time. Think of how something can be designed differently. This can be a thing, a process, or a way of thinking.
- Ask yourself “why?”: Why does it matter? Safety, quality, cost? This will keep you focused as you seek changes and innovate.
- Embrace your creativity: Imagine a pile of Legos or a blob of Playdoh. What would you build? Creativity is a muscle and needs to be flexed!
- Jot down your ideas: We have all had that million-dollar-idea and we have all forgotten it. Writing down a list of problems is also helpful.
- Identify a problem: Workarounds are cues for improvement. If you have ever combined two things to do one job, there is usually an opportunity for improvement. Call it out.
- Research solutions: After identifying a problem, see if anyone has come up with a solution. Googling your idea is scary- what if my great idea already exists? Wasting your time on an idea that has already been thought of is scarier.
- Share your ideas: An idea in your head helps no one- Not you. Not your patients. Not the world. Again, remember your “why?”. If you are afraid of someone stealing your idea, protect it with a non-disclosure agreement, patent, or other intellectual property filings.
- Identify stakeholders: Who is involved with the development and implementation of your idea? Nurses? Managers? Doctors? Etc.
- Build a team: Very few of us can take an idea from blueprint to bedside without the help of someone else. Know your strengths and weaknesses and seek complementary teammates to help your idea come to fruition. Calling a “rapid response” does not make you a bad nurse. In fact, it makes you a better nurse because you know specialized teammates will show up to help.
- Find/Utilize resources: When you get stuck or do not know how to do something.. Google it. The internet is the world’s most powerful tool, use it. LegalZoom, Fiverr, Pinterest, Reddit, YouTube, and so on.
- Identify value in your solution: You have to compare a solution’s value to its cost. A floating urinal would be nice (really nice) but unreasonable if it costs a million dollars per urinal.
- Give nurses a platform for innovation: Listen up managers and directors! Provide a safe space for nurses and other front-line staff to share ideas and innovate. It will pay for itself.
- Join the nurse innovation community: Nurses are innovating all over the world and sharing their stories. Seek journals, FaceBook groups, and other media showcasing nurse innovation. It is important to know you are not alone and it will keep you inspired.
- Network: Build relationships with others who are also passionate about nurse innovation. LinkedIn is an excellent place to start.
- Embrace feedback: As you work towards a solution, be open to feedback from others. A good idea can turn into a great idea just by listening.
- Be patient: Certain ideas can take years to develop. Just keep plugging away and always remember your “why?”. Slow and steady wins the race.
- Find an innovation mentor: There are innovators doing unimaginable things. Reach out to those that inspire you, even if they are not nurses.
- Dedicate time to your idea: This may mean skipping the latest Game of Thrones episode. One hour a week is still progress.
- Repeat: The innovator’s journey is an endless cycle and requires you to be fluid in the process.