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Clinical Immersion

An Approach for Fostering Cross-disciplinary Communication and Innovation in Nursing and Engineering Students

Geist, Melissa J., EdD, APRN-BC, CNE; Sanders, Robby, PhD; Harris, Kevin, PhD; Arce-Trigatti, Andrea, MS, MA; Hitchcock-Cass, Cary, BSN, RN

doi: 10.1097/NNE.0000000000000547
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Background A faculty team from nursing and chemical engineering developed a course that brought together students from each discipline for cross-disciplinary, team-based clinical immersion and collaboration.

Problem Health care processes and devices are rapidly changing, and nurses are uniquely positioned to be bedside innovators to improve patient care delivery.

Approach During each clinical immersion, the student teams rotated through various hospital units where they identified problems and worked together in the university's makerspace (iMaker Space) to design and build prototypes to improve health outcomes.

Outcomes Data from the Critical thinking Assessment Test provided evidence of gains in critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, while the problems identified in the clinical setting and prototypes developed demonstrated the impact of bringing nursing and engineering students together to design innovations.

Conclusions When challenged to identify authentic problems during their clinical immersion, the teams of nursing and engineering students proposed creative solutions and developed commercially viable prototypes.

Author Affiliations: Professor (Dr Geist), School of Nursing; Assistant Professor (Dr Sanders), Department of Chemical Engineering; and Associate Director (Dr Harris), Center for Assessment and Improvement of Learning, Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville; Doctoral Candidate (Ms Arce-Trigatti), College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville; and Laboratory Coordinator (Ms Hitchcock-Cass), School of Nursing, Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville.

This work was supported through a faculty grant from VentureWell and the Lemelson Foundation and a grant from the Tennessee Technological University Quality Enhancement Grant program.

K.H. has a grant (1022789) from the National Science Foundation for the dissemination of the Critical thinking Assessment Test. The other authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Correspondence: Dr Geist, School of Nursing, Tennessee Technological University, PO Box 5001, Cookeville, TN 38505 (

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal’s Web site (

Accepted for publication: March 26, 2018

Published ahead of print: May 23, 2018

Cite this article as: Geist MJ, Sanders R, Harris K, Arce-Trigatti A, Hitchcock-Cass C. Clinical Immersion: an approach for fostering cross-disciplinary communication and innovation in nursing and engineering students. Nurse Educ. 2019;44(2):69-73. doi: 10.1097/NNE.0000000000000547

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