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Nursing News HighlightsNurses Leading Innovation

Rachel Walker, PhD, RN, Wants Nurses to Tap into Their Innovative Spirit

Following her recent keynote at the 2019 ONS Congress, we sat down with nurse inventor and advocate Rachel Walker, PhD, RN, to get her perspective on how we can increase participation in the healthcare innovation space from nurses of all backgrounds and at any stage of their careers.

When IV fluid-manufacturing plants in Puerto Rico were disabled by the devastating hurricanes that struck the island in 2017, there was a critical shortage of IV fluids, such as normal saline, across the United States. Messages from her Puerto Rican nurse colleagues navigating shortages of critical supplies in the aftermath of the hurricane, and prior experiences running out of IV fluids in the ER tent after the 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, led nurse innovator Rachel Walker, PhD, RN, and a team of other nurses, students, and engineers, to begin developing a portable, self-contained system that purifies water and generates essential IV fluids on-site.

Rachel, a former rural emergency medical and disaster relief worker and an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst College of Nursing, was the first nurse to be selected by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and The Lemelson Foundation as an AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassador. Her passion for advocating for patients and nurses as leaders in healthcare innovation made her the perfect voice to kick off the opening ceremonies of the 2019 Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Annual Congress as a keynote speaker with a speech that celebrated nurse inventors past and present and inspired oncology nurses to tap into their innovative spirit.

After introducing Rachel on the mainstage, Lynda Benton, Senior Director of Corporate Equity at Johnson & Johnson, who leads the Johnson & Johnson commitment to nurses, sat down with Rachel to learn more about her perspective on how nurses at every stage of their careers can better own their great ideas and make them reality.

To stay up-to-date with how Walker is advocating for nurses, follow her on Twitter: @UMassWalker.

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