It happens to everyone, but nurses grit their teeth and bear with it every day. “It” is, of course, the profligate, Gaia-trashing cousin of the Missing Sock Phenomenon: The Redundant Glove Problem.
This is the dream: Your mask is on, and you reach out to grab a disposable glove. A single glove separates itself from its mates as you pull it out of the box. You pull it on, reach out, and swiftly extract another SINGLE GLOVE from the box. The other gloves remain inside the box and patiently wait for hands that want them. There are no wasted, now-useless single gloves littering the floor, and we have entered a world that doesn’t incessantly force health care workers to squander essential supplies.
New grad—Nurse of the Week Ellen Quintana, RN—is the nurse who just might make this dream a reality.
Luckily, when Ellen was still a freshman, she could not easily dismiss her first encounter with the Redundant Glove Problem (or RGP) during a chem lab class at University of Connecticut School of Nursing. As she told UConn Today’s Mikala Green, “No one could get just one glove out of the box, and there were gloves everywhere. We were told that once they fell out, we couldn’t put them back; it was really wasteful.”
The vision of those scattered unwanted gloves bothered her. Quintana even surveyed her professors and found that the RGP plagued them as well. Looking ahead at a nursing career that would undoubtedly contribute a mountain of wasted “extra” gloves to the world’s landfills, Quintana realized this was more than a mere annoyance and started to analyze the problem. Even amid the intensity of her BSN program, she pursued a solution. The box opening, she determined, was the pain point—the “weak link” that allows those feckless gloves to flow so promiscuously. An adjunct faculty member suggested the freshman apply for the U Conn Idea Grant Program; she did, and her RGP-Killer project was awarded a grant!
Quintana soon found mentors, who helped her restructure her academic schedule to permit her to continue her nursing studies while concurrently developing her idea. She also partnered with the University of Connecticut Engineering and Design program and performed “pull tests” on proposed models. By spring 2020, she had acquired a partner (Kelsey MarcAurele U Conn NUR ’22), and their concept—now known as ReduSeal, a product in the making—won $10,000 at a university-wide innovation contest (second place). That summer, ReduSeal was also a finalist at the Johnson & Johnson Nurses Innovate Quickfire Challenge, and this year—not long before her graduation—Quintana became one of the few nurses to receive a patent when the US Patent Office awarded her a non-provisional patent for ReduSeal. At commencement, the U Conn School of Nursing presented her with the Regina M. Cusson Student Healthcare Innovations Award.
Ellen Quintana is scheduled to begin work this August as an Emergency RN at Hartford Hospital. And her RGP-killer, ReduSeal, is on its way to a career as well. She told U Conn Today, “I want to strategically license the product so hospitals can save money, reduce waste, and hopefully save time for nurses. Nurses shouldn’t have to clean up gloves.” Amen to that.
Be sure to check out the U Conn Today article on Ellen Quintana. It details the steps she took to develop her product and the resources that the School of Nursing and U Connecticut employed to support her project and her studies.
As nurses, we all know that the only thing to expect during our shifts is the unexpected. Especially with the outbreak of COVID-19, we’ve seen this to be especially true. As a result of my nursing career, I’ve learned to roll with the punches, which particularly came in handy as I transitioned to the business side of the field.
When I first became a nurse, I never dreamed of starting my own staffing agency. After several years of working as a long-term care nurse in assisted living facilities around the country, a few fellow nurses gave me the idea. I was told by colleagues and supervisors that I had a knack for managing the team, and those simple acts of encouragement gave me the push I needed. Ever since then, it’s been a rollercoaster ride and a ton of on-the-job training. In honor of Nurses Week, I’ve compiled six key learnings from my experience as a nurse turned business owner.
1. You won’t have much time to be a nurse
While I will always be a nurse at heart, I am now very much a businesswoman. At first, I continued to work as a traveling nurse as I was afraid to give all my time to this endeavor – I still had many bills to pay and picking up extra shifts gave me steady income. Eventually, I hit a tipping point as I was completely overwhelmed, which wasn’t healthy. Now I run the company’s operations and spend most of my time in an office. While I love it, it’s a huge transition from being a nurse but the core of providing care for others is still there and that passion is what keeps me going.
2. Fail quickly, but never give up
Going from a nurse to a business owner was a tough transition, and I almost quit on more than one occasion. But I knew I had to keep going for my community, and I realized I’m passionate about providing jobs for other nurses. Hearing from those nurses and seeing the bigger picture helped me put one foot in front of the other, no matter the barriers I hit. Once I took the leap of faith and gave my business 100%, I’ve never looked back.
3. You’ll have to make an investment to grow
Facilities usually have 30-60 days to pay their invoices, while most nurses are paid on a weekly basis. The startup money I had went quickly, which meant I had to get creative with funding solutions. I had trouble getting a traditional bank loan, but instead came across an alternative financing company called FundThrough, which I still use today to keep my nurses paid and help bridge the gap between invoices.
4. Keep track of your books
When I first started, one of the hardest things I had to learn was the financial side of the business. Because I’ve never run a company before starting Nurses at Heart, I didn’t know the best way to track my expenses and income. When it came time to file my taxes, I realized I needed help and enlisted an accountant who showed me how to use QuickBooks. Now we meet every three months to review the books together and ensure everything is on track. It’s important to know your strengths and weaknesses as a business leader and get the help you need from other professionals.
5. Surround yourself with the right people
I realized quickly that I can’t do everything on my own. Today, my agency employs more than 100 people spanning two states, which requires a lot of coordination and management on my part. I’ve been lucky to build an incredible team that I lean on daily, but I have to put trust in my team and let them do what I hired them to do.
6. Your nursing experience will always come in handy
From my experience, I’ve found that those running the business side of the staffing agencies often don’t have prior nursing experience. Because I started my career as a nurse, I know how to speak to administrators, other nurses, and patients. I can relate to nurses and understand their unique challenges, while my bedside manner helps me navigate difficult conversations with ease. I’ve found that both my clients and employees respect me because I know how the healthcare system operates. This experience is what helped make my staffing agency stand out from the competition.
As a proud nurse and newfound business owner, I can tell you that making a paradigm shift wasn’t easy. But along the way, I found success and happiness by following my gut and persisting through the tough times. Similar to the characteristics that make a great nurse, business owners also need to stay calm, level-headed and trust their team. You never know what life is going to throw at you, but with your experience and skills as a nurse, you’ve been given training for so many other situations. You can overcome any challenge with perseverance and trust, and by remembering you have an army of supportive nurses behind you.
We need innovators in a crisis, and during the pandemic, the nursing community has been bursting with new ideas and creative solutions to improve patient care and public health. One of the biggest boosters of nurses’ role in healthcare innovation is the American Nurses Association (ANA), which has just announced the winners of its 2021 fourth annual Innovation Awards.
Individual Innovation Winner
Awards are nothing new for RN Rebecca Cherney. The Michigan Medicine Intermediate Care Nurse won the hospital’s Nurse Hero award last year for an above-and-beyond 3D printing project she organized to counter the state’s PPE shortage last spring.
Cherney really stepped up her innovation game, though, when she developed her breakthrough TrachTrail ™ program, the ANA’s 2021 Individual Innovation Award winner. Michigan Medicine describes it as “the first comprehensive, standardized adult tracheostomy care education program of its kind, focusing on combined nurse, patient and caregiver training.” The ANA Innovation team noted that Covid-19 has increased the need for adult tracheostomies by 15-20%. Cherney’s bright idea fills an important gap at a vital time, the ANA explained: “There were few standardized training programs available for adults in the self-care of tracheostomies before discharge, leaving nurses unable to effectively instruct patients and caregivers in the skills needed to care for their tracheostomy at-home.”
Cherney’s accessible multimedia guide has already been road-tested, and the data suggest that it can help to improve new tracheostomy patients’ quality of life. While testing TrachTrail™ on a progressive care unit in 2017, the length of hospital stays on the unit dropped from an average of 64.8 days to an average of 16.6 days, and a wider hospital implementation is planned for 2021-2022. (For a detailed study on the TrachTrail™, see this May 2020 study co-authored by Cherney).
Nurse-Led Team Innovation Winners
This year’s nurse-led team award is being presented to a pair of entrepreneurial DNPs. Dr. Pritma Dhillon-Chattha, DNP, MHA, RN and Dr. Brighid A. Gannon DNP, PMHNP-BC met at Yale when they both enrolled in the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. After receiving their DNPs in 2018, Dhillon-Chattha returned to Canada to open a cosmetics injectables company, while Gannon founded a nursing home consulting group in New York with 14 psychiatric nurse practitioners. The pair had talked about possible joint business ventures before, but when the pandemic arrived, they engaged in serious brainstorming. The result? Lavender, an online psychotherapy service.
Both DNPs agreed that they had to work fast, and they had to work smart. Gannon, a New Yorker, told the Yale School of Nursing News, “We recognized that there was a time-sensitive need. New York was literally in crisis. Part of our mission was that we wanted to help people as soon as possible. We wanted to launch quickly, even if things weren’t perfect.” As Gannon started recruiting psychiatric NPs, Dhillon-Chattha employed her clinical informatics expertise and focused on the technology. They opened Lavender in May 2020.
Unlike brick-and-mortar psychotherapy offices—many of which had to hastily adjust their systems to accommodate virtual appointments, Gannon and Dhillon-Chattha designed their practice to specifically address the needs of online therapy. This helped them to avoid the common pitfalls encountered by office-based practices. Gannon recounted some of the key pain points: “So many of my colleagues are fully booked and have no more referrals. [And as] many providers don’t offer email as a method of contact, getting a hold of them by phone is near impossible. There’s no pricing transparency, and no one will tell you how much these services actually cost. What a shame that when you’re already feeling down and struggling that the process of accessing mental health services is re-traumatizing.”
Dillon-Chattha told the Yale School of Nursing, “Telehealth has been a viable option for many years, and now the system is being forced to embrace it. COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of telehealth by at least five years. This will help seniors, rural patients, and those with different abilities safely access the care they need.”
The individual nurse and nurse-led team winners will be awarded $25,000 and $50,000, respectively, to support the development and implementation of their products over the next year. Award winners have a year to further develop their projects and will share their outcomes and findings in 2022.
Tending to a sleeping patient in a dark room is like navigating a cartoon-style obstacle course. You could experiment with all sorts of awkward maneuvers, contortions, perhaps even juggling. At the end of your experiments, you’d probably conclude that even if it is not impossible, working in the dark sets the scene for a host of mishaps and errors that can endanger your patients. So, most night shift nurses turn on the lights in a patient’s room an average of nine times an evening. Nurse of the Week Anthony Scarpone-Lambert, a 21-year-old nursing senior at the University of Pennsylvania, and Johnson & Johnson Nurse Innovation Fellow, Jennifferre Mancillas, RN, BSN, RNC-NIC decided to devise a way to help nurses work in the dark without disturbing patients’ slumber times.
Scarpone-Lambert and Mancillas, who met at the 2019 Johnson & Johnson nurse hackathon, surveyed 250 nurses and learned that 87% of them have trouble seeing during those night-time visits. “When nurses can’t see, we put our patients and ourselves at risk. This leads us to turn on intrusive overhead room lights that disrupt our patients,” Mancillas elaborated for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Such sudden awakenings deprive patients of much-needed rest, and can slow recovery. The innovative pair came up with a solution: the uNight Light, a wearable 2×1-inch LED light.
The nurse-entrepreneurs describe their invention as “The first-ever wearable LED light made specifically for frontline healthcare workers, allowing you to illuminate your workspace while decreasing patient sleep disturbances by 70%.” They add, “Inspired from the military, our device comes with three light settings [white, blue, and red] to optimize your ability to care for patients and remain alert. uNight Light’s brightness has been tested to give the perfect balance of illumination; keeping you safe and your patients asleep.”
Other nurses have essayed hacks of their own. As one NP related to the New York Times, “I had a co-worker who would wear those night lights that runners use on his forehead,” but the Forehead Night Nurse Light, alas, was not a runner, and lacked legs. The uNight Light, however, has some ardent supporters.
As for Scarpone-Lambert, his instructors, the J&J judges, and SONSIEL’s Rebecca Love, co-editor of The Rebel Nurse Handbook—which was awarded third place in the 2020 AJN Book of the Year Awards in Professional Issues—all seem to agree that the U Penn senior is going places. Bobbi Martin, president and CEO of the Global Nurse Foundation, said, “He just doesn’t quit, and never stops at ‘no’. He gets people excited.” Speaking to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Love, president of the Society of Nurse Scientists, Innovators, Entrepreneurs, and Leaders (SONSIEL), said Scarpone-Lambert stands out for “his drive, character, and passion. And Anthony operates at a different speed, thinking six steps ahead. He is one of the individuals with the potential to be a moonshot in the nursing profession, and I don’t say that lightly.”
Strong words to live up to, but Scarpone-Lambert seems poised to take off even before his pinning ceremony.
Awarded 3rd Place, Professional Issues - AJN Books of the Year, 2020
The Rebel Nurse Handbook
Inspirational Stories by Shift Disruptors
Featuring stories from over 40 diverse nurse leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs, the Rebel Nurses featured in this book are pushing the boundaries of their profession.
DN: The judge commented that “What I loved about this book is that the authors made complex leadership and business topics accessible and interesting by sharing leaders’ personal stories… Provides actionable and practical strategies students can use to further their own development… Readable and clear, it is sure to be a favorite among students.”
TR: “I love hearing that, by the way. I’m so grateful for the comment about the book. Because you know, when I went into academia, I committed to never writing a book, because I don’t learn particularly well through reading books. It’s just how my brain is wired.
And two, I’ve never, I have never heard anyone say ‘I love a textbook’ before. One thing that I think is missing from all academia is storytelling. So we said, if we’re going to write this book, we’re going to lean heavily on not just our stories, but the stories of people who’ve succeeded and failed at putting these evidence-based innovation leadership and entrepreneurship tactics in the place. And so it’s great to hear that shine through from the reviewer because that’s exactly what we were trying to do: create a type of textbook that students would enjoy, and they can actually be engaging with the content and be able to put that into practice.”
DN: How does the Innovation Studio connect with your book’s study of nursing leadership, innovation, and entrepreneurship?
TR: “I actually teach in our masters of healthcare innovation program and is fully founded on innovation leadership, which adopts what we like to refer to as the entrepreneurial mindset. So if you are in charge of leading people, and that may be in a small capacity to large capacity formally or informally, but you’re always doing a few things.
One new favorite term that I have is building a culture of ambition. And I mean ambition in a way that you’re striving for excellence. So what we teach our team—and what’s in the book—is teaching people to find out what stories resonate most effectively with their co-workers and teammates in the population they engage in, and have that be the driving force that your team unifies around to make significant and substantial change. So by building this culture of ambition, you’re taking on ownership for your actions, you’re taking on ownership for the things that surround you, and the system that you work in.
And that doesn’t mean that you are saying that your system is perfect. But it’s saying that we are in the system, and we’re going to do the best that we can with it. That’s what we’re trying to get people to recognize. And when you come into that with an entrepreneurial mindset, you think about what resources are available to you, what are your key performance indicators, and how you can maximize those, and you let the things that are noise filter out.
So you focus on what’s important, you develop a ‘yes, and’ culture, you empower people to bring their ideas forward, incentivize them, provide them the permission to be innovative, and validate them when they engage in those behaviors. And you build a structure of innovation that lasts beyond your tenure within the organization.
Those are all things that are built into the textbook. And those are all things that we try to get the people engaged in the innovation studio to buy into because we know that if that happens, eventually we’ll find the success that we’re looking for.”
DN: 2020 was a big year for nurse leaders. They’ve been finding innovative ways to cope with shortages, fight burnout, and manage other pain points, and have made a huge impact.
TR: “And you know what, I’m very hopeful. I’m not one of those leaders right now, but I am very hopeful that through the exercises that you just mentioned, people are taking notes and debriefing and finding out what works well.
Because I do think that the exceptional leadership that’s occurring throughout health systems now needs to be the norm. Those things about celebrating our wins, focusing on what’s important today. ‘What’s important now’ — you know, that’s an acronym for ‘win’. How do we win today? What are we going to focus on?
A big component of leadership is making sure that your team is all aligned on the same goals. And, you know, creating the value that you commit to create so that that’s where innovation and leadership all come together.”
Founded in 2017, The Ohio State University Innovation Studio is run by the OSU College of Nursing and Center for Healthcare Innovation and Wellness. In normal times, the Innovation Studio travels the country, encouraging students to create healthcare solutions, and helping them to use technology to develop their ideas into marketable new products.
How has the pandemic affected the innovation program? DailyNurse spoke to Tim Raderstorf, MSN, RN, the co-founder of the Innovation Studio and Chief Innovation Officer (as well as Clinical Instructor of Practice) at the OSU School of Nursing. Dr. Raderstorf has conducted neurosurgical research on Tethered Spinal Cord Syndrome, but his passion is healthcare innovation.
Before the pandemic, when he wasn’t teaching, Raderstorf traveled the country with OSU’s mobile Innovation Studio. He is also an expert on the role of innovation in nurse leadership and is now an award-winning textbook author. Evidence-Based Leadership, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship in Nursing and Healthcare, the textbook Raderstorf co-wrote with OSU School of Nursing Dean Bernadette Melnyk was an American Journal of Nursing (AJN) Book of the Year, winning first place honors in its category. (In Part Two, he discusses the book and explains why he found the judge’s comments particularly gratifying).
DailyNurse: How have things changed for the Studio during the pandemic?
Tim Raderstorf: “We used to do to makerspaces that would travel. And, you know, it acted as this hub of interaction and engagement and excitement. But when COVID hit, people didn’t want those things [the makerspaces] in their lobbies… and we didn’t want 15 people hanging out in the same location. So, we shut down the traveling innovation studio, which was our original one, and [now we] just run our permanent location, which is right in central campus.”
DN: What did you do when the pandemic hit?
TR: “For the first six months of COVID, because we didn’t open our doors until the students came on campus in September, we ran a virtual makerspace. So Josh Wooten, our shop manager, particularly at the beginning, used our laser cutter and CNC router to make PPE, with our College of Engineering and a variety of public-private partnerships, to get our clinicians the safety equipment they needed to be able to save our communities. We wanted to keep Josh as safe as we possibly could, so we set up a makerspace in his house. He had five 3D printers in his home, and he was printing PPE around the clock with mostly faceshield frames, so that we could hook transparencies or plastic to them. It’d be running day and night, doing work for us while we slept.”
DN: Were the students able to participate at all last year?
TR: “Well, in May , we launched a COVID [Campus Safety] challenge, encouraging everyone to submit their ideas to us virtually. And when students came back to campus, we ran a second virtual challenge asking for ideas that would impact their safety on campus. Things like how to improve mask adherence, social distancing, and the mental health of our student population. We also had pitch days in October and December.
In fact, at that December pitch day, one of the nurses on the unit [came by on her] 15-minute break to pitch her idea to us. And she was wearing PPE, and—unknown to her—it was PPE that we had printed for her.”
DN: Has the pandemic been inspiring nurses to innovate?
TR: “I feel that during the pandemic, some of the acclaim and attention and interest has prompted more nurses to raise their voices in terms of public health and policy, but also to innovate and come up with solutions for the various pain points that you’ve encountered during the pandemic. And I think that’s going to build. I’m very bullish on that. I’m big on systems of innovation and building a structure of innovation, to have a proper culture of innovation that thrives.
Dr. Tim Raderstorf demonstrates an innovation exercise at the Academy of Nurse Leaders.
I’d argue there probably still isn’t much structure for nurses, physicians, pharmacists, whoever is at the frontlines to bring their ideas for [innovations] to most organizations. I do think clinicians have never been more willing and engaged in changing the system. The question is, can systems become engaged and willing and set their clinicians up for success so that they can appropriately drive the changes that need to occur? Particularly as we become cash strapped and healthcare is going through a massive transformation.
I think it there’s going to be a very challenging component to the future of healthcare once the pandemic is over. We have to decide what we refuse to go back to and what we will continue to make changes on.”
DN: Who comes to the pitch days? Students? Faculty?
TR: “We’ve had over 1000 people pitch to us over the last three years. It’s about 55 to 60% students and about 40 to 45% faculty and staff, which is a nice healthy mix, and it’s trending much more towards the students. We are seeing an increase in faculty and staff, but the students are increasing at a much faster rate.”
DN: Are nurses pitching ideas?
TR: “You know, one of my least favorite terms is ‘nursing innovation’. Because there’s no such thing as physician innovation, there’s no such thing as dentist innovation, there’s no such thing as pharmacist innovation. So why do we label ourselves other than just being innovators and really showcasing that we are indeed equals with our peers?
We knew that in order to raise the awareness of the amazing things that nurses do, and create and innovate and invent, that we need to do this alongside our peers, and, you know, almost be humble bragging, as we go along, and said, ‘hey, look, what we’ve created, why don’t you come over here and create something great with us too’.”
DN: When you describe the Studio as “interprofessional,” can you elaborate a bit?
TR: “We encourage people to engage with other individuals who have different backgrounds and professional expertise; [in fact] we require it. If you don’t have an interprofessional team, that is one of the things that disqualify you from being eligible for funding. So if two physicians come up with a great idea, we say, ‘awesome, who are you going to use this on’? And they usually say, ‘well, it’d be an operating room or height’. ‘So who preps your trays? Well, that person needs to be on your team, or you need to be getting insights from the people who are going to be interacting with this tool as well.’”
DN: Are the people who pitch to you mainly aspiring entrepreneurs looking to develop a product that they can sell?
TR: “It’s probably about half and half. A lot of people are interested in developing a new business, a new tool, something along those lines. But [we] also see a lot of people interested in policy change and awareness campaigns. Our most successful commercial effort was a method for preventing addicts from injecting drugs into their system through their IVs at the hospital. We really want to be able to help these people while they’re under our care and give them the resources they need to continue to be successful. So this nurse in the team wanted to find a way to stop people from being able to access the lines without us knowing about it and created a tape that would go over IV ports.
And, you know, it’s now on the market. Her idea has gone from something she drew on a napkin to a tool that is now being used worldwide to help patients.
[The entrepreneurial aspect helps spur change because] there’s nothing that’s free in our health system. That makes it really challenging to scale your ideas without going the commercialization route. If you can’t sell it, it’s really hard to have that mass impact. But really, the key goal of innovation studio is to build a culture of innovation at Ohio State. We really believe that the true impact is in getting our students, faculty, and staff together and creating an atmosphere where great things can happen.
That’s a long game, you have to you have to be patient, and you have to be willing to continue to water the seeds until they’re able to until they’re able to sprout.”