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Get Inspired to Hack with These Nurse-Led Workplace Solutions

NurseHack4Health is back this fall with a new Hackathon event! To get inspired, meet two of the first-ever NurseHack4Health Pitch-A-Thon awardees who are bringing their solutions to life, and find out how your solution could be next!
Nursing News & ProgramsNurses Leading Innovation

Get Inspired to Hack with These Nurse-Led Workplace Solutions

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NurseHack4Health is back this fall with a new Hackathon event! To get inspired, meet two of the first-ever NurseHack4Health Pitch-A-Thon awardees who are bringing their solutions to life, and find out how your solution could be next!
Geisinger Paws to Reflect therapy dog 1.jpg
Source: Geisinger

Ready to power up your innovation skills with NurseHack4Health? Join us for our virtual hackathon, September 22-24, to collaborate with nurses around the world in ideating and pitching innovation solutions that help catalyze a healthy environment for nurses and the patients they care for!

Hosted by Johnson & Johnson, SONSIEL - Society of Nurse Scientists Innovators Entrepreneurs and Leaders and Microsoft, the Hackathon gives nurse of all experience levels an opportunity to bring their innovative, healthcare-transforming ideas to life.

This year, the fall NH4H event features two tracks – one for nurse-led interdisciplinary teams from the same health system, and one for individual nurse hackers from different organizations forming interdisciplinary nurse-led teams. Both tracks have opportunities to further progress their ideas with funding or developmental opportunities and more!

For health system teams, an exciting weekend of ideation is just the beginning. Select health system teams will be invited to participate in a NH4H Innovation Accelerator and Pitch-A-Thon in November. Supported by ALL IN: WellBeing First for Healthcare and the Johnson & Johnson Foundation, teams in the Pitch-A-Thon will have the opportunity to receive up to $150,000 in grant funding to bring their ideas to life!

To get inspired, meet two awardees of the first-ever NurseHack4Health Pitch-A-Thon in November 2022. Last year’s Pitch-A-Thon focused on unleashing the power of nurses as innovative leaders, working within multidisciplinary health system teams of clinicians, engineers, HR leaders and beyond, to design new solutions supporting a healthy workplace environment.

From new care delivery models and creative resources for mental health and well-being, these meaningful solutions address foundational workplace challenges to create a healthcare system where exciting career paths are defined, skillsets develop and flourish, and the well-being of health workers is a top priority.

What have the awardees been up to since their pitches? Find out below!

Geisinger’s Paws to Reflect, a peer intervention and animal-assisted therapy program

Geisinger Paws to Reflect therapy dog 2.jpg
Source: Geisinger

Peer support and animal-assisted therapy are both evidence-backed approaches in reducing nurse burnout, depression, and stress. For the Geisinger team, there was big potential in bringing these two ideas together.

The team – Dawn Snyder, MSN, RN; Brittany Drumm, MBA, Stephanie Andreacci, LCSW, Casey Marfitt; and Tina McDowell – pitched a program in which peer supporters trained in psychological first aid team up with certified pet therapy dogs and their handlers to directly support frontline nurses in real-time.

With the award funding Geisinger was able to train and onboard six dogs to volunteer with peer supporters, and the feedback has been nothing short of glowing.

“I think even we underestimated how impactful this would be,” said Drumm. “Everyone kind of assumes it’s a feel-good moment, but I don't know that we understood the impact of having dogs become a part of the living culture of the building.”

Geisinger Paws to Reflect therapy dog 3.jpg
Source: Geisinger

Dogs round in tandem with peer supporters, and the team is using a well-being index to establish impact. Animal-assisted therapy is known to overcome emotional barriers and reduce resistance to help, creating an opportunity to interject peer support. Interventions happen reactively as traumatic situations arise, as well as regularly across units.
After the program began, the health system decided to also partner with local dog shelters to have adoption and appreciation events, where employees can visit the dogs outside the hospital.

“The two of these things together created a space where dogs and being around animals as a source of joy has become a part of the culture and the language here,” Drumm said.

For this Pitch-A-Thon team, the next step is continuing to grow the pipeline of therapy dogs and expand the highly sought after interventions across the system.

Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), Dear Hospital, connection-based storytelling training

Led by Jennifer Hayakawa, CHOC’s Director of Nursing Research and Innovation, Dear Hospital was inspired by a partnership between the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) and storytelling organization Dear World.

Children’s Hospital of Orange County "Dear World" storytelling session
Source: Children’s Hospital of Orange County

In their pitch, CHOC proposed developing a storytelling and photography program called Dear Hospital into an enterprise-wide movement to enhance CHOC’s culture, making participants feel more connected to and engaged with their organization and teams.

The Pitch-A-Thon funding allowed CHOC to develop and activate storytelling skills throughout the healthcare system with a “train the trainer” model, and since the pitch, Hayakawa and team have facilitated seven powerful events and trained 10 certified storytellers.

“They’re able to learn the art of storytelling, which is such an important part of the work we do in healthcare and in nursing, particularly when we’re engaging with patients, families, and other providers,” she said.

Children’s Hospital of Orange County "Dear World" storytelling session
Source: Children’s Hospital of Orange County

Through the process, nurse participants distill their stories down to meaningful short phrases called ‘brain tattoos’ which they ink on their bodies for photography sessions.

“You can’t really write it on yourself, so you’re writing it for each other, and asking, ‘What does that mean? Tell me the story,’” Hayakawa said. “It really makes people connect. It sounds so simple, and it is, but it’s a powerful process.”

According to Hayakawa, 92% of participants said that they felt more connected to the CHOC’s values, 91% reported feeling more connected to each other, and 93% recommended the experience. Over time, the goal is to use the program to help stabilize the system’s engagement and turnover scores, which have been historically positive, but were negatively impacted by the pandemic.

Children’s Hospital of Orange County "Dear World" promo graphic
Source: Children’s Hospital of Orange County/Dear World

Spark Inspiration with NurseHack4Health

For both teams, the Pitch-A-Thon was a catalyst to think big, connect with like-minded innovators and get their ideas off the ground.

“We had the opportunity to connect with all these networks of people doing this work in a meaningful way, and it was a really good exercise for us to help us focus on what we wanted to achieve,” Drumm said.

“My advice for nurses is that your ideas matter, and they can come to life,” Hayakawa said. “Keep dreaming them and find the right partners to make those dreams come true.”

Your idea could be next! With coaches, mentorship and resources to help you along the way, NurseHack4Health is meant to unlock your passion, curiosity and innovative spirit.


Registration for NurseHack4Health: Catalyze a Healthy Environment for Nurses and the Patients They Care for is OPEN NOW! Learn more about NurseHack4Health and sign up today at nursehack4health.org.

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