In the News
Necessity is the mother of invention. So when a nurse is too busy to call attention to a problem with a procedure or a device used at the bedside, a workaround is born. But what if a nurse's workaround could become an actual invention?
Enter MakerNurse, an initiative of the Little Devices Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It's supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and is an attempt to learn how nurses might transform their workarounds into tangible devices or improvements in products, processes, and protocols.
The goal of MakerNurse, according to Jose Gomez-Marquez, medical-device designer and director of the lab, and researcher Anna Young, isn't necessarily to commercialize nurses’ ideas but to ensure that nurses are publicly given credit for them once they're realized and disseminated, and to make sure the nurses don't “get scooped,” which is historically what happens when nurses—in contrast to physicians and surgeons—are the innovators. Gomez-Marquez and Young consider nurses the unsung heroes of health care innovation because of the ingenuity they display in overcoming the day-to-day challenges of patient care. Inspired by that quiet resourcefulness, they're collecting stories from nurses around the country to identify the forces driving innovation and determine what resources are necessary to bring ideas—related to everything from wound care to software—to life.
When nurses send their ideas and experiences to MakerNurse at www.makernurse.org, the team keeps everything confidential, in accordance with the research protocol approved by MIT's institutional review board. When it's appropriate, the team can point contributors to resources and partners to help bring their ideas to life—and possibly to market.
To encourage institutional support of nurses’ innovation, MakerNurse launched “expedition sites” at five medical centers and hospitals in California, New York, and Texas. One of them, Driscoll Children's Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas, has already produced a successful MakerNurse: Roxana Reyna was honored at the White House Maker Faire last June for an innovation in infant wound care. The MakerNurse team will participate in New York's Maker Faire this month.—Sibyl Shalo Wilmont, BSN, RN