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Nurse Unit Managers: 3 Ways to Develop Key Innovation Skills

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As a Nurse Unit Manager I’m sure you would know that innovation is fast becoming a necessary on the job skill, a skill that requires both the ingenuity of McGyver combined with the cat like reflexes of a super hero! Hawthorne Health is regularly looking for ways to help you develop these key skills in your team and as such have found two great articles which highlight the necessity of innovation being a key nursing skill and you can help your team train and develop with innovation being the key focus.

In this article written by MacKenzie Bean for the Becker’s Hospital Review, Bonnie Clipper DNP RN VP of Innovation discusses how Nurse Unit Managers can best create the ‘AHA moment’ most nurses are missing. Bonnie shares that she feels nurses tend to be underrepresented in the innovation space and that there is a necessity to teach nurses from the start that they are, in fact, innovators as much as anyone else on the care team. Bonnie goes on to stress the fact that creating opportunities for nurses to get involved in the design and development of technologies is critical as often Nurses are the end users of new technology as it is rolled out. Developing an innovation frame work was the second key structure Bonnie outlines, an innovation framework with three tenets; igniting innovation, highlighting innovations and cultivating future nurse innovators, in essence a three-legged stool. The goal here for nurses to have an ‘aha moment’ that, yes, they have ideas and they can advance this work and of course, celebrate the work nurses do as innovators.

Innovation framework diagram
http://bit.ly/innovationgraphic

Gwenyth Wallen, PhD, RN in her article Innovations that INSPIRE (Nursing Management Magazine September 2014 – Volume 45 – Issue 9 – p 23-25) discusses innovation for nursing sensitive practice in a research environment – a new decision making model being introduced at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Centre to guide nurses throughout the organisation as they navigate the ‘slippery slope’ between quality improvement (QI), EBP and nursing research.  Each of these processes for fostering innovation and improving clinical practice require asking the right question, applying or testing interventions of interest evaluating with appropriate metrics and adjusting based on results. Implementing new programs during times of cost containment in an economic downturn requires creative adaptation. The INSPIRE model is presented in a decision-making flow diagram that beings by acknowledging the many organizational facets that contribute to the desire for improving nursing practice and patient safety through innovation including ongoing performance monitoring stakeholder feedback staff observations and ongoing review of clinical standards. Gwenyth concludes that when Unit Manager support the engagement of their staff in QI initiatives that promote innovation in nursing-sensitive practice, we can expect to increase nurse satisfaction and a sense of autonomy.

In our experience, having worked in the Healthcare and Nursing industry for over 15 years and drawing from both Bonnie’s and Gwenyth’s articles, here are three 3 ways you can help to develop nurse innovation in your unit:

Create Innovation Framework – Create an innovation framework by igniting innovation, highlighting on the job innovations and cultivate future nurse innovators.

Develop AHA moments – Allow nurses to experience an AHA moment as they develop on the job innovation skills in a clinical setting.

Staff Engagement – Encourage staff engagement in Quality Improvement Initiatives that promote innovation in nursing sensitive practice.

Starting today, it is imperative that you start reviewing what structures you have in place to encourage nurse innovation and how best you can encourage your team to further develop their clinical innovations skills.

Picture of Carolyn Ferrando General Manager Hawthorne Health

About the Author

Carolyn Ferrando General Manager Hawthorne Health

With a passion for Healthcare and Nursing reform, Carolyn and her team at Hawthorne Health are always on the lookout for strategies and resources to  help equip their nurses with the skills they need to perform at the top of their game. Her end goal is to see Hawthorne Health position its self as a Healthcare Solutions Company that is able to adapt to changes in nursing and healthcare and to provide both hospitals and staff with the framework they need to navigate these changes. Reach out to her at @hawthorn_health

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