Wednesday, December 04, 2013

The Natural Inventiveness of Nurses

Nurses are smart. Period. Nurses also have to be inventive, think on their feet, and use critical thinking to solve problems on the fly. Nursing school doesn't prepare us for every possible thing that could happen (and how could it?), so we fly by the seat of our pants and learn as we go. And learn we do.

Back when I was considering going to nursing school, a neighbor who was a seasoned nurse told me, "If you want to be a nurse, remember one thing. Nurses aren't just nurses. Sometimes they're plumbers, sometimes they're carpenters, and sometimes they're priests, therapists, mediators and miracle workers. Be prepared for anything and you'll be OK."

He was right, and then some. Nursing puts us face to face with all manner of challenges and puzzles, and we can even use our acumen and savvy to start businesses and invent new products and technological advances.

Nurses Are Inventive

Today on RN.FM Radio, we had as our guest Mr. Gary Bronga. While Gary isn't a nurse, he's an inventor, entrepreneur and innovator, and he coaches nurses and others on how to bring an idea for a product or device from the thinking stage to the implementation stage and beyond. Gary considers nurses some of the smartest people he knows, and he believes that there are thousands of nurses out there who have brilliant ideas about how to improve patient care or otherwise make their own jobs easier. And he's right.

Just the other day, I spoke on the phone with Sarah Brennan Mott, a nurse who had an idea for a spring-based stethoscope holster. Having developed neck pain, Sarah decided to create a product that would allow her to conveniently carry her stethoscope at her side without keeping it around her injured neck.

Building a prototype at her kitchen table, Sarah created the product, brought it to market, and now sells her one-of-a-kind spring-based stethoscope holster via her website, NurseBorn. Eventually, NurseBorn will be a venue where other nurse inventors can market their products as well, and this is a perfect example of a nurse using her natural curiosity, intelligence and savvy to create something new, extremely useful and practical.

I also have a nurse friend who, along with her partner who is a Physician Assistant, is constantly coming up with creatively brilliant ideas for home-based do-it-yourself projects that either make their lives easier, solve an identified problem, or provide a simple, inexpensive alternative to purchasing a store-bought product.

Nurse inventiveness? Voila!

Nursing Can Be Expansive

The example of Sarah Brennan Mott and NurseBorn demonstrates how nurses are literally in touch with ways to improve patient care and nursing practice by creating answers to problems that are easily identified in the course of practicing nursing.

Meanwhile, some nurses may have ideas for products and innovations that have nothing to do with nursing or patient care (like my aforementioned friends) and this underscores the fact that nurses' thought processes (and the Nursing Process itself) can be harnessed for any number of purposes.

So, if you're a nurse (or you think like one!), remember that nursing can be as expansive as you want to be. Gary Bronga believes that nurses know how to solve problems and can do just about anything that they set their minds to. We don't need to be defined by delivering care at the bedside, and the definition of what it means to be a nurse (or think like one) is ever-expanding.

For Sarah Brennan Mott, my friends who create their own household products and other nurses far and wide, the sky's the limit.

What will you invent?


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