1819–2019: Innovation 200 Years in the Making

By: Eileen Werdman and Robin Wagner

Solving the health care issues of tomorrow will not be accomplished by using today’s methods. In addition to the Nursing Process, nurses will need to employ another problem-solving technique, specifically, design thinking. Following is an account of our journey to realize the vision of the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing: “Through the creative leveraging of technology, innovation and inclusive excellence, we will lead and impact the transformation of health care through strategic partnerships.”

Faculty and staff were mindful that the College of Nursing had already received the Apple Distinguished Award for incorporating the IPad into the nursing curriculum when we began the next installment on our journey in 2018. Use of the of the IPad, introduced in fall 2013, has allowed students and faculty immediate access to current literature and the ability to envision health care throughout the world. With its portability, classroom walls seem to disappear.

Our next installment has involved the use of Maker Spaces. College faculty and staff normally take part in annual retreats for updates, teambuilding, mindfulness, and innovation, but the retreat in 2018 was special. The setting was the 1819 Innovation Hub, the University’s brand new Maker Space facility, named to commemorate the founding of the University 200 years before. Several weeks prior to the grand opening celebration, faculty and staff were introduced to its capabilities with 3D printers, 3D scanners, laser printers, wood working equipment, industrial sewing machines, and a space designed for working together, for example, to discuss the feasibility of developing apps.

After our initial introduction and tour of the facility we attended education sessions, returning to the space on day 2 for an interactive workshop. Our inclusive teams of women and men, faculty and staff, worked together, charged with solving a nonmedical problem, using only the material and equipment provided or available in the space. Energized, faculty made plans to introduce the 1819 Innovation Hub to students and encourage use of the space by all students. Despite some bumps in the road we have achieved our original goal and are now working with Instructional Design staff to develop curricula that will thread the maker space experience throughout the nursing programs.

We decided to use the first semester of the Accelerated Program to introduce students to the maker space and the idea that it can be used to solved clinical problems. Students return to the space In the third semester to refresh their design thinking thought processes and use the space to propose potential solutions to clinical issues raised during discussion. In semester four, students have the opportunity to return to the space to work on innovations to assist with issues seen during their community practicum.

Students learn about the maker space in the first semester in the leadership course. The experience is tied to the learning module Supporting Change and Innovation through Interprofessional Teamwork. The student’s experience is formulated to reach the module objectives: Discuss the importance of nurses using innovative thinking and explore ways to engage in innovative thinking. Students are assigned readings around change and innovation and then, in class, watch “Thinking Inside the Box,” a YouTube video by Drew Boyd.

They then take the Innovator Quiz, followed by discussion, before touring the 1819 Innovation Hub. During orientation to the facility, the students participate in teams to solve a nonclinical problem – moving a whiffle golf ball from one edge of the table to the other without touching the ball, using the materials provided in a five-gallon bucket. The students are also told that they can use any of the supplies or equipment available to them in the space to solve the problem.

Faculty and students found the initial experience fun, exciting and full of potential. We have just finished the third semester when students returned to the space for Role Integration: Nurse as Manager of Care. Here the students were asked to review Drew Boyd’s work, identify the similarities between the nursing process and design thinking, and the connection to critical thinking. Using the free software Tinkercad, the students set out to solve a space issue. They redesigned a medication/supply room based on their knowledge and use of the space. As we approach the fourth semester, the students will be encouraged to use the maker space to solve an issue by analyzing the information collected during the community clinical. It is expected that students will take advantage of the 3D printer to develop teaching tools to assist in educating communities.

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