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Nursing News HighlightsNurses Leading Innovation

First All-Nurse SXSW Panel Focused on Transforming Healthcare

Four women holding their name cards in front of the SXSW 2018 banner
Each year, the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival brings together the world’s most forward-thinking industry leaders to talk about today’s best practices and tomorrow’s most exciting trends. SXSW Interactive sessions highlight recent technology advancements and feature forward-thinking innovators looking to make positive change around the world. This year, SXSW featured a panel comprised of some of healthcare’s top innovators: nurses.

The SXSW panel “EntrepreNURSE: Hacking, Making & Disrupting Health" held on March 10, 2018 in Austin, TX brought together a panel of nurse experts to spotlight the value of nurses as the best chance for innovating and transforming healthcare. This session was the first, at any major tech conference, to feature an all-nurse panel speaking on the role of nurses as innovators and entrepreneurs:

Shawna Butler, RN, MBA, who provided the context of nurses’ sustained high levels of public trust and led the discussion, develops partnerships for Exponential Medicine at Singularity University and serves as EntrepreNURSE-in-Residence at REshape Center at Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands. Dubbed the originator of the “entrepreNURSEship” movement, Butler blends her clinical nursing experience (including emergency, cardiac, and critical care) with business acumen to activate nurses in the healthcare startup, investment, technology, and innovation arena.

Rebecca Love, RN, MSN, ANP, is the director of nurse innovation and entrepreneurship at the Northeastern School of Nursing and founder of Through her work at Northeastern, Love works to transform traditional nursing education, providing future nurses the business background needed to drive innovation and establish change where they provide care.

Molly K. McCarthy, MBA, BSN, RN-BC, National Director of U.S. Provider Industry and Chief Nursing Officer at Microsoft U.S. Health & Life Sciences, began her career as a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and pediatric nurse, which provided her a unique perspective in the healthcare information technology industry.

Wendy L. Wright, DNP(c), ANP-BC, FNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN, FNAP, an adult/family nurse practitioner and owner of Wright & Associates Family Healthcare in Amherst and Concord, N.H., which she opened when she realized she could provide care as an advanced practice nurse that was not only high-quality, comprehensive, and personalized care, but accessible, too.

While Rebecca indicated early in the discussion that nearly 50 percent of the nursing work force will retire in the coming years, leaving a deficit in the number of primary care professionals by 2025, the panelists focused on the business and clinical case for tapping more broadly and deeply in the nursing workforce to develop, adopt, scale, and manage technology solutions that improve patient experience and outcomes and improve work satisfaction across the entire healthcare workforce. 

The panelists highlighted a range of technologies (AI, VR, drones, big data, 3D printing, blockchain, telehealth) nurses can use to care and advocate for patients and communities more effectively; discussed scope of practice and the need for legislation allowing advanced practice nurses to provide a wider repertoire of care; and the need to evolve nursing education and preparation to keep pace with emerging and converging technology.

Following the panel, Nursing Notes spoke with the panelists to gain more insight.

“Who better to innovate than nurses who are doing the work, seeing patients in those examination rooms and leading healthcare teams? Given that nothing like [my practice] existed, I created it,” Wendy said. “As a nurse, if we see things we don’t like or agree with, it is time to change and innovate.”

With the goal of inspiring others to consider nursing not just as a career path, but as an engaging, vital opportunity to advance the health of the nation, Shawna, Rebecca, Molly, and Wendy shared keen insights and learnings with panel attendees. In addition to emphasizing creativity, novel thinking, and going lateral with education to adjacent disciplines, they called on nurses to embrace a pioneering and adventurous spirit and “go where no other nurse has gone”.

“Innovation in nursing is essential because as patient advocates,” Molly said. “We need to seek better ways for caring and communicating as there is always room for improvement.”

To view the full panel discussion, click here. To learn more about programs promoting nursing innovation, visit Northeastern University’s Nurse Innovation & Entrepreneurship website.

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