Subscribe to Notes on Nursing, our monthly news digest.
Nursing News & ProgramsNurses Leading Innovation

Creating Cultures of Innovation with the J&J Nurse Innovation Fellowship

Last month, the inspiring nurses of the inaugural Johnson & Johnson Nurse Innovation Fellowship converged for their first in-person meeting. Together, they laid the foundation to enhance their innovation and leadership skills and began to frame the focus for their action learning projects.
Nursing News & ProgramsNurses Leading Innovation

Creating Cultures of Innovation with the J&J Nurse Innovation Fellowship


Last month, the inspiring nurses of the inaugural Johnson & Johnson Nurse Innovation Fellowship converged for their first in-person meeting. Together, they laid the foundation to enhance their innovation and leadership skills and began to frame the focus for their action learning projects.

Bringing together a diverse group of nurse leaders with a passion for improving health from across the country, the Johnson & Johnson Nurse Innovation Fellowship aims to strengthen the leadership and entrepreneurial skills of inspiring nurses to power-up nurse-led innovation in healthcare. In 2019, 12 nurses were selected to participate in the groundbreaking, two-year program, which was developed in partnership with the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) and Nurse Approved.

Prior to the first in-person session, many of the Fellows had the chance to meet at the inaugural SONSIEL Nurse Hackathon and online, but this was the first time they had the opportunity to come together to immerse themselves in personalized leadership development, collaborate on their action learning projects and think through how to implement better cultures of nurse-led innovation within their own health systems. The session began with introductory remarks from Lynda Benton, Senior Director of Corporate Equity at Johnson & Johnson.

“I am so excited by the strength of this cohort and what the future has in store for you as nurse leaders and innovators,” said Lynda. “By combining the leadership development experience of CCL with the nurse innovation expertise of Nurse Approved, we’ve really created a program that has never been done before. Together, we are going to champion a new era for nurses and create what we want to see for the future of the nursing profession.”

Joining the Johnson & Johnson team were Lynn Fick-Cooper and Joan Shields, leadership education experts from CCL, who led several sessions throughout the week exploring models of leadership, vertical development, leadership resilience and how to strengthen one’s network. Joan, who was a nurse before joining CCL, was able to offer a unique perspective to how the Fellows could develop as nurse leaders and motivate other nurses in their own health systems.

The founders of Nurse Approved – Nancy Hanrahan, PhD, RN, FAAN, Rebecca Love, RN, MSN, FIEL, and Noah Hendler, APRN, FNP-C, also led sessions focused on the challenges facing today’s nursing profession, identifying the underlying problems in healthcare and creating solutions with design thinking. Together, the nurses talked through the impact burnout has had on the profession, how it affects innovation and why nurses are the ideal leaders to tackle inefficiencies and issues in healthcare.

“I loved walking into the room on the first day and seeing Rebecca, Noah, Nancy, the Johnson & Johnson team and the members of the cohort. Meeting everyone for the first time and having the program become real was a special moment,” said Olivia Lemberger, RN, MSN, Clinical Educator at Rush Copley Medical Center in Aurora, Illinois and Nurse Innovation Fellow. “Coming out of this week, I’m amazed by how much I feel like I have found my tribe in such a short amount of time. This program has already exceeded my expectations with all that I have learned so far and the depth of my relationships with everyone.”

During the week, the Fellows received the results of their personality and leadership assessments that they had completed weeks prior to the in-person meeting. Together, the group shared how their personalities and preferences influence their actions as nurses, leaders and innovators. The Fellows organized themselves based on their strengths and were amazed by the diversity in the room, despite everyone coming from the same profession.

“I think my favorite part of the session was doing a deep dive into our leadership and personality assessments,” said Hiyam Nadel, RN, MBA, BSN, CCG, Director of the Center for Innovations in Care Delivery at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and Nurse Innovation Fellow. “I was surprised to learn I didn’t know myself like I thought I did. It was cool to reconnect with myself and understand why I do things on a new level. I feel like I have a greater understanding of what I need to do to pave the way for innovative thinking back in Massachusetts and am going home with a renewed sense of confidence.”

Early in the week, the Fellows heard new perspectives on the complexities in today’s healthcare system through a panel discussion featuring Lynda Benton, Tim Rice, former CEO of Cone Health, and Ann Corcoran, President of AMC Healthcare Solutions, Inc. The group discussed shifts in care delivery, the rising costs of care, the burdens on today’s healthcare providers and how nurses are uniquely positioned to identify opportunities for disruption and lead healthcare innovation.

The group also participated in an interactive organizational workshop where they were assigned different roles throughout a model organization – top, middle, bottom and customer. After being assigned into roles, the Fellows experienced what life was like outside of their usual position in an organization and provided valuable insight into how to leverage one’s role in an organization, effectively communicate their goals and navigate their organizational structures.

“Without a doubt, my favorite session this week was the organizational management experience. As a bedside nurse, I don’t always have line of sight into the perspectives and responsibilities of my managers, and this exercise helped show me a glimpse into their day-to-day experiences,” said Erik Andersen, BSN, RN, critical care nurse at WakeMed Health and Hospitals in Cary, North Carolina and Nurse Innovation Fellow. “I think to understand the perspectives outside of your role is key to moving ideas forward, and I’m looking forward to finding more opportunities to develop vertically and improve my leadership strengths.”

The first in-person session of the Nurse Innovation Fellowship program left the Fellows feeling inspired and energized by their ideas and commitment to implement cultures of innovation in their own health systems. Stay tuned for more updates in the coming months as the Fellows continue their journeys in the Johnson & Johnson Nurse Innovation Fellowship program.

Latest from Johnson & Johnson Nursing
  • Johnson & Johnson Nurse Innovation Fellowship fellows collaborating together in group setting
    The Johnson & Johnson Nurse Innovation Fellowship, powered by Penn Nursing and the Wharton School, is built on the concept of applying design thinking and human-centered design to real-world challenges within health systems. But what is design thinking? And how does this concept help nurses enhance their innovative skills and drive change?
  • The pandemic unleashed an unprecedented era of innovation in new care delivery solutions– with nurses at the center. But do those solutions work to drive change and better support nurses and the patients they care for? That’s what the five nurse-led teams around the country are exploring through a pilot program from the Institute for Health Improvement and the Johnson & Johnson Center for Health Worker Innovation. Through rapid cycle testing, nurses are examining acute care delivery solutions that attract, support, and strengthen a thriving nurse workforce.
  • CompassRN meeting
    For many underrepresented students, nursing pipeline programs don’t start early enough or reach them at all. Meet the nurse who is working to change that, as a nonprofit founder raising awareness of nursing as a vital career choice and developing experiential education and long-term mentors for underrepresented students in Houston’s middle and high schools.