We are innovators

ANA helps advance nurses’ ideas.

THE OLD PROVERB “Necessity is the mother of invention” resonates with many of us. Nurses are resourceful on a daily basis—from finding innovative ways to help patients thrive despite limited resources to streamlining workplace processes to make the products we use better.

we are innovators postNurses are innovators, yet we generally don’t see ourselves that way. We may downplay our contributions—saying that it’s just our job to identify needs and implement required changes to improve care or practices. Or, for whatever reason, we don’t take the next step to make our solutions permanent.

But we should not sell ourselves—or our ideas— short. If you look at our history, you’ll see nurses have an impressive track record of innovative contributions to healthcare and the public good. For example, Florence Nightingale is credited with creating the pie chart and using other “infographics” to make her case for health-focused changes. In 1968, emergency nurse and cofounder of the Emergency Nurses Association Anita Dorr created the first crash cart to ensure patients received life-saving care faster. Nearly 30 years later, a Veterans Affairs nurse, Glenna Sue Kennick, brought barcode medication administration technology into health – care after observing a scanning system at a rental car company. And at last year’s American Nurses Association (ANA) Quality and Innovation Conference, Christi DeLemos shared an app she developed to provide other nurses with crucial, quick access to information on stroke and other neurologic issues.

Over 3 decades as an RN, I’ve seen many best practices and sophisticated technologies (including virtualreality technology to help burn patients reduce their anxiety and need for pain medication) developed by nurses and other stakeholders become part of the healthcare landscape. Healthcare will continue to evolve, and nurses—and nursing students—need to harness our power and knowledge to meet and anticipate those changes.

With this in mind, ANA is committed to helping nurses learn how to further their creative ideas. Last year, ANA created a framework focused on efforts to ignite, cultivate, and inspire nurse innovation, and highlight and celebrate their advances.

ANA also partnered with the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) to advance nurse-led innovation through several special events and initiatives. As part of this first-of-itskind collaboration, nurses had the opportunity to share their ideas at the recent HIMSS conference during our joint Nurse Pitch™ event. It’s based on the television show Shark Tank in which entrepreneurs try to win investors’ support for their new products or businesses.

Nurses will have another opportunity to promote their innovations and win monetary prizes next month at the 2019 ANA Quality and Innovation Conference in Orlando (anaqiconference.org), when the second Nurse Pitch will be held.

At our April conference, we also will announce the winners of the first ANA Innovation Awards, which will financially support an individual nurse and nurse-led team’s work on an innovative product, program, project, or practice that improves patient safety or outcomes. Additionally, ANA will host an innovation lab where nurses can bring their ideas, work with a designer to further develop their concepts, and have the chance to prototype them.

Nursing is an art and a science. We have a rich body of research from nurse scientists who explore topics ranging from nurse staffing to loneliness to fall prevention. We have an entire specialty—nursing informatics— that blends our nursing practice with information and communication technologies to promote health. But every one of us has an artist and scientist within us. We can innovate and create better healthcare for our patients, healthier populations, and improved work environments, and ANA is here to support you.

I hope to see you in Orlando.

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Ernest Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN

President, American Nurses Association