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Nursing News HighlightsNurses Leading Innovation

Mastering Innovation: A Program Empowering Today’s Healthcare Leaders

Bringing together students of multiple backgrounds, majors, and experience levels, the Master of Healthcare Innovation program at The Ohio State University College of Nursing is empowering today’s healthcare leaders to embrace human-centered design and develop their pioneering solutions.

When a patient is bedbound in the hospital for long periods of time, it can be hard for them to be aware of their surroundings and adjust their sleep cycles due to a lack of exposure to natural daylight. This may increase instances of delirium, which can result in more medication and a longer length of stay[1], but most of the time patients remain facing the wall because moving the bed towards their window could obstruct a nurse’s view of the patient’s airway and other lines, drains, or medical equipment.

Justin Kelly, BSN, RN, CCRN, RHIA, a staff nurse at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute James Medical Intensive Care Unit, thought that strategically placing a mirror above the patient’s bed and turning the bed towards natural light could help improve delirium in ICU patients. The solution also had the potential to ensure patient safety by allowing healthcare staff to visualize the patient.

“When there’s a rear-view mirror in a car, parents can easily look and see that their kids are safe,” Justin explained. “It’s a simple solution to a problem, but now anyone walking through the unit can see the patient’s face and we’ve seen a decrease in delirium.”

As a student in the Ohio State College of Nursing’s Master of Healthcare Innovation (MHI) program, Justin was empowered to turn his innovative idea into a functioning solution. The online program brings together students from a wide-range of backgrounds and positions with a passion to revolutionize healthcare and lead in the fields of administration, healthcare technology and patient care.

“After working as a bedside nurse for nine years, I wasn’t sure if my next step should be a leadership or a clinical track. When I found the MHI program and learned it wasn’t really either, it piqued my interest,” Justin said. “What really motivated me to pursue the program was the feeling that I wasn’t pigeon-holed in a specific track. This program really opened my eyes to all the possibilities there are for nursing students, especially in the field of innovation.”

Unlike other leadership and innovation-focused programs across the country, the Master of Healthcare Innovation program puts an emphasis on innovative leadership, emotional intelligence and the implementation of design thinking. And according to Michael Ackerman, DNS, RN, FCCM, FNAP, FAANP, Director of the Master of Healthcare Innovation program and Professor of Clinical Nursing at Ohio State’s College of Nursing, the program also pushes students to become comfortable with failure.

“I think nurses are often in their own cocoon a little bit, so we’re challenging them to work with outside groups, effectively move their projects from ideas to solutions, and understand that failure is part of the process of innovation,” said Michael. “The healthcare system is ripe for innovative change and encouraging frontline healthcare workers to improve the patient experience and healthcare system through programs like ours will have a tremendous impact.”

Since the program is completely online, MHI students find themselves interacting in video discussion boards with students from around the world who are also passionate about improving healthcare. Program participants have represented a wide variety of majors and careers, including Hospital Chairs, Chief Communications Officers, Directors of Business Development and many healthcare managers, analysts and specialists.

“We emphasize cross functionality because no one does innovation in a vacuum,” said Michael. “Bringing together multiple disciplines adds new layers of insight and leadership perspectives to our discussions on how to solve problems in healthcare. I don’t know how you would teach innovation any other way.”

What’s next up for Justin before he graduates in 2020? He’s working with fellow MHI students to develop their capstone project, one that aims to provide live video conferencing in hospitals so family members can actively engage in care planning regardless of location or time of day.

“For patients that can’t communicate for themselves and for family members who can’t always be at the bedside, this can be a way to keep them informed and engaged in their family member’s plan of care,” explained Justin. “With nurses at the center of these conversations, my team and I are excited to see how our solution will complement multidisciplinary rounds and streamline communication.”

Justin is grateful to the Master in Healthcare Innovation program for pushing him and his fellow students to better understand the process of innovation and apply a critical thinking mindset to their fieldwork.

“We’re told in the program that the ideas that can change bedside practice come from the bedside, and it has really changed the way I look at patient care and embrace failure,” said Justin. “All nursing students should be motivated to put themselves out there and share their ideas with their senior leaders, because when I see a patient bed turned with their mirror up, I’m so proud I did that.”

MHI students pictured above from left to right are Jordan Bope, Anne Bledsoe, Kori Fenner and Justin Kelly.

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[1] Park, M. Y., Chai, C. G., Lee, H. K., Moon, H., & Noh, J. S. (2018). The Effects of Natural Daylight on Length of Hospital Stay. Environmental health insights, 12, 1178630218812817. doi:10.1177/1178630218812817

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