September 29, 2020

Episode 30: How nurses can develop an innovation mindset

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Podcast

Description

In this episode of The Handoff, Dr. Nurse Dan gets to talk about his favorite topic -- innovation in nursing -- with innovation and design thinking expert Marion Leary

Marion is the Director Of Innovation at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, where she teaches on topics including design thinking and disruption in the healthcare industry. She’s also the host of the Amplify Nursing Podcast. 

In this conversation, Marion shares how she is trying to infuse innovation methodology into every level of the curriculum at Penn and to give her students an innovation mindset that they can take with them into the field. She and Dan talk about what areas of nursing are most primed for change, how COVID-19 has inspired more nurses to develop solutions to the problems they see and how all nurses can bring innovation into their daily life. 

Links to recommended reading: 

Podcast

Transcript

Dan:
Marion, thank you so much for joining us on The Handoff.

Marion:
Yeah. Thanks so much for having me. I'm really looking forward to the conversation.

Dan:
So Marion, you do a lot of stuff in innovation and they've heard your bio, but what are some of the top, most interesting things you're working on right now related to nursing and innovation?

Marion:
I could rattle off any number of things, but I'll start off with the work we're doing educating nurses and nursing students around innovation and design thinking. We have not only a class that I teach at Penn Nursing that you just mentioned, called Innovation and Health Foundations of Design Thinking, but also a free online open access platform called Design Thinking for Health that we pushed out at the end of last year to any university, health system, any college school of nursing, any community group who wants to learn about design thinking and whose nurses want to learn about innovation and do so in an asynchronous, creative and a free platform, on a free platform.

Dan:
Yeah. Right. I love, free parts is always good, but also I love that you've taken the healthcare design and combined it because I've seen in other organizations, a designer getting up to speed on healthcare. That's a big gap that takes a lot of information because healthcare is so complex. So are you seeing outcomes and improvements for students that have taken that course?

Marion:
So it's still pretty new, so we haven't seen outcomes yet, but I am also a part-time PhD student. And part of the work that I'm going to be doing for my research residency is in fact, looking at outcomes. So doing a qualitative interview with nurses who have used the platform to understand how they've used it and to potentially make it more robust, make it stronger and add to it. So don't have that yet, but planning on getting it soon.

Dan:
We'll have to have you back on to talk about your dissertation results. So one of the things that I'd love to talk with you about, and I know we've spoken about it before as well, but I think design thinking and innovation get intertwined as synonyms. And I would love your take on that, is design thinking innovation? Is innovation design thinking, how do you describe the two?

Marion:
They're definitely, to me, two very different and distinct things that work very nicely together. So innovation, and the way that we define innovation at Penn Nursing is that it's the application of something new or the use of something in a different way that adds value. And we're not just talking about technologies or widgets, but really it's the processes and systems that we use and create, the methodologies that we also use and the way that we communicate with our patients, their families and communities at large. So innovation is really this broad definition about being able to do things, examine things in a different way and use different methodologies to solve problems. And design thinking, which is a human centered approach, is one of the methodologies we use to have a systematic approach to innovation. They go together, but for me, they're very different things.

Dan:
Yeah. So design thinking is a tool in your tool belt, in the larger process of innovation?

Marion:
Yeah. It's a methodological approach to innovation that supplies you with the tools in your tool belt. There are a number of established design thinking resources that have activities associated with them, to allow you to systematically and methodologically, understand the problem, create a solution, test it, et cetera.

Dan:
Got it. And as far as nurses at all levels, how should they be incorporating innovation into their daily life? One of the things I hear is you don't have time for that, or I'm not a creative person, and then it gets excused away. But I would love to hear how you're hard wiring innovation as a way of thinking across the profession.

Marion:
Yeah, it's a good question. And one that we are trying to consider as well. And for me right now, it starts with the ground floor of education and trying to infuse the innovation methodology, not just in one class. So I mentioned, I teach a course at Penn Nursing, but really trying to infuse it throughout the entire curriculum at all the different levels. So to undergrad, graduate, DNP and PhD levels as well. And so at Penn Nursing, we're really starting to think about how can we do that in these different areas, in a way that is not just a one-off course, but that really sets the foundation early in the nursing education. And then allows nurses once they graduate to really have that mindset with them when they're out practicing, whether it's clinically, in the community, in startups, in the classroom, wherever it is that they practice.

Dan:
So how are you thinking about it at the different levels? The difference between innovation for an undergraduate nursing student versus a DNP student? How are you leveling that? Or what areas of focus are you honing in on for each one of those levels?

Marion:
Good question. It's not something I necessarily have the handle on yet and we're really just starting to think about, whether it looks like, for example, again, going back to the course I teach that is open to upper level undergraduate students, and then all level grad students. So I've had undergrads and grad students in the same class learning the same course material and curriculum to enhance their knowledge around this topic. And so what we're really thinking about now is outside of this class, what does it look like? And this is a question you asked me, but what does it look like for our undergrad students versus what that would look like for our say DNP students or PhD students. And we're not there yet, but we are trying to determine what that would look like at each level. And whether that's, again for undergrads, just infusing that as a guest lecture in one of their foundational courses, as opposed to the DNP program where maybe it's more of a institute that focuses more context and more information into that program, if that makes sense.

Dan:
Yeah, no, it makes sense. And it was something we struggled with at both Arizona State and Ohio State, as we looked at the innovation curriculum there too. And we came up with a framework where undergraduate students they're going most likely going to be nurses at the front lines, taking care of patients in some setting. And so the skill set they need could be design thinking or just really specific, applicable tools that they can take. And a frame of reference for thinking about things like evidence-based practice and stuff, to be able to take that into the clinical setting. And then the masters, it was more of how do you lead innovation? Because many of the masters students were in some sort of formal or informal leadership role. And then ultimately at the DNP, it was like this synthesis, it was connecting this performance improvement methodology, evidence-based practice mindset to the creative, innovative new creation mindset and being able to link those two together into some sort of thing, moving forward.

Marion:
We're leaning towards that sort of mindset for the DNP program, but I am a big proponent of really starting out our undergrads, giving them the opportunity to realize that they can be leaders in this space as well, and not waiting until the graduate level to start really sprinkling that notion into the work that they're learning. And so my hope is that we're able to start off our undergrads early, understanding what innovation is, what the different methodologies are and that they are leaders in this area. And then, like you said, as they progress in their curriculums and up into graduate programs, that they learn those leadership skills, that they can then take with them out in their leadership positions.

Dan:
Yeah. Agreed. That sounds like a great framework to move forward with. And I'm excited to hear how that goes as you build that out. As far as areas for nursing, nurses to focus in on, I know we're both very active in a lot of different innovative things in organizations and with nurses who are doing a lot of interesting things, but what areas do you think specifically, nursing has a need for innovation in?

Marion:
Right now, we're seeing a lot with COVID and that really has highlighted the need for nurses to be leaders in innovation, really at the bedside, in the clinical setting, as well as out in the community. It's interesting because for so long, we've seen that it takes decades to get an idea from conception out to implementation, from bench to bedside. And now what we're seeing during COVID is that we can really turn around solutions to problems in a much quicker timeframe. And so I think that's really now where nurses are starting to see, they could have the biggest impact. I've been involved with an organization called SONSIEL, the Society of Nurse Scientists Innovators, Entrepreneurs, and Leaders for a long time now. And we just recently hosted a nurse hack for health, which was a virtual hackathon focused on COVID-19. And we had 500 nurses, entrepreneurs, engineers, designers, programmers, all coming together for a weekend to solve some of the problems the nurses were seeing at the bedside that came up during COVID-19.

Marion:
And the solutions that these nurses came up with were really impressive because they're living this every day. And not only were they able to create solutions to those problems, but really start to understand the potential impact that they can have in driving these solutions to commercialization scale up, wherever it is that they think it fits best. And so that's really one of the areas that I've been most focusing my energy on, is trying to show nurses no matter what level you're at, no matter where you practice, you really can make a difference. You really can be and should be leading the solutions to the problems you're seeing.

Dan:
Yeah. That's a great point. And yeah, innovation can happen at any level in any part of the organization at any stage of your career. And we've seen that. What were some of your favorite ideas and solutions that came out of the hackathon?

Marion:
One of the teams was looking at contact tracing for school reopenings. They were thinking about incorporating different tracking technology and mobile applications to help connect nurses with not only student nurses who needed clinical hours, but then the school nurses at these different schools. So that they'd be able to work together for contact tracing for any students who may have positive symptoms. So that was one of the really interesting and practical solutions that came up from the hackathon. There was another app around resiliency for nurses, and this app was looking at giving nurses a community to rally around when they were feeling like they were starting to get burned down and they could interact with each other on that app for support as well. And so there were a lot of different solutions that came out of this hackathon, those are just a couple. But they're also all listed on our nurse hack for health websites, so if folks wanted to check those out, to see what else came out of that.

Marion:
The best part about that hackathon, I failed to mention it was a partnership with SONSIEL but also Microsoft and Johnson & Johnson. Everything that was created during that hackathon was open sourced and was put out on GitHub. So that any health system, any hospital, any provider who had a similar problem and wanted to use that solution that was created at the hackathon has access to it. So that was really one of the biggest things we wanted to make possible from this hackathon was to get solutions out quickly to the providers who needed them.

Dan:
Yeah, that's great. I've been a part of a lot of hackathons and my biggest gripe with hackathons is at the end of the day, you have an idea that gets pitched to an audience and then it fizzles out unless that group wants to put the energy and to continue the conversation. So I love that you've put it out on GitHub to have other organizations be able to jump off and stand on the shoulders of the teams, so that that's amazing. Do you have any downloads, I mean, have you seen people uptake on any of those?

Marion:
I haven't, my Microsoft colleagues were really focusing on the GitHub side, so I haven't heard anything yet, but it's actually a great question that I guess I can ask.

Dan:
Like a follow up, maybe we can put it in the show notes if there's something there. And was that with Molly at Microsoft?

Marion:
Yep. Molly McCarthy at Microsoft, Linda Benton at J&J and then Rebecca Love from SONSIEL, along with a group of many other dedicated SONSIEL Microsoft and J&J employees, who were all volunteers outside of their normal work hours and responsibilities to put this hackathon on. And we are hosting another one in November as well. So more to come.

Dan:
Awesome. Yeah, we'll get that information out. And I think it's interesting because Molly McCarthy is a nurse and works at Microsoft and I don't think many people know that, that there's nurses at Microsoft. And that's one of those innovation roles that probably never had a real job description that she was able to come into and build an entire workforce around. I love to see that. And I hope we see more nurses in tech companies building out innovation.

Marion:
Yeah. It's really interesting because her title is chief nursing officer at Microsoft. So right, I don't know how many people know that they have a chief nursing officer, but it's really important that all of these tech companies who're dealing in health and healthcare have nurses in their organizations.

Dan:
Yeah, for sure. Molly's one, Judy at IBM, Amazon had one for a little while. And so, yeah. I just think there's lot of opportunity. I think nurses don't think to look at those organizations as a place to build their career and there's definitely opportunity there. So I think we need to push people out and that really just amplifies the nursing voice in a whole new area. And I know you're the host of the Amplify Nursing. So I would love to hear about how your podcast is going and how you're amplifying nurses voice across the world.

Marion:
So it's a good segue because we also, on our Amplify Nursing podcast had an interview with one of the nurses who works at Verily. So Verily Life Sciences is one of Google's companies. And so we interviewed Megan Moriarty who used to be at Penn, she was a Penn Nursing alum and then was at the Penn Center for Healthcare Innovation and then went and is now working with Verily. And so really interesting interview with her on why nurses should be looking at positions in tech companies. But yeah, so Amplify Nursing is going great. We just finished our first season, so season one wrapped up last week and we're looking forward to starting season two soon. But we were able to really highlight the voices of nurses who are leading the way in science, policy, innovation and practice. And it was a wide range of topics and areas that got even more interesting once COVID-19 hit. And a lot of the work around racial and social justice started popping up as well.

Marion:
We did a number of special issues related to both those topics. So even though our season one was originally only slated to be 13 episodes, we ended up with, I think, 26 episodes altogether. It was a huge learning experience and really interesting. And the folks that we were lucky enough to interview really highlight why nursing is such an incredible profession.

Dan:
Yeah. The stories that you hear with the guests are so amazing. I mean, just people doing just some crazy things, some innovative things, things that you never would associate with nursing or healthcare really. And so it's fun to have those conversations.

Marion:
Yeah. And that's the reason I wanted to do the podcast and my co-host Dr. Angelarosa DiDonato, that's why we wanted to do the podcast to really amplify what the public hears and sees of the profession of nursing. Usually, people think of nurses as one thing, at the bedside in the hospital, but nurses do so many other things and they're working across so many disciplines and professions. And we really wanted to be able to highlight those different roles and the people in those different roles that bring a different light to the profession. And to show not only the public, but other nurses, what the possibilities are out there.

Dan:
Right. And podcasting is one way to do that. I know nursing seems to not get the same media attention and resources and things that other professions do when there's, for example, COVID-19, the exposure of nurses in stories seems to be less, there are subjects of the stories, but they're less cited as experts in that kind of stuff. Do you have advice for the listeners on how to amplify the voice of nursing in other ways so that the public can learn more about what we're up to and even the profession can see different avenues that we can impact healthcare and the public?

Marion:
Yes. I am a big proponent of nurses putting themselves out there and speaking up and speaking out. And whether that is making yourself available to your institution's public relations office so that they know if there's a story that's coming out in your area of expertise, they can refer you to the news media, whether that's writing op-eds in newspapers, whether that's just being on social media. I can't tell you how many nurses are not on social media and are really hard to find. And I hear it over and over from my news colleagues that they try and find nurses for stories, but they're really hard to find on social media or on the internet in general. If they search for nurses, there's no contact information or there's no way to email them. And so for me, I'm always telling nurses, put yourselves out there, whether it's simply creating a LinkedIn account with an email address or being active on Twitter and other social media platforms.

Marion:
You really want to establish yourself as an expert in your area so that when the news media is looking for experts, they know that nurses are out there and willing to be interviewed. It's really just about the confidence of our profession to start putting ourselves out there as the experts that we are.

Dan:
Yeah. Agreed there. And I think one of the single most valuable things that I do in my day is post on LinkedIn, the engagements, the speaking opportunities, the media opportunities, the job opportunities that have come from simply being a regular poster on LinkedIn have been amazing. And I encourage every nurse to get on some social media, whether it's LinkedIn or Twitter, it just opens your network up. And I think that's where you can really make a huge impact and get some information out to people who may not see it in any other way.

Marion:
I understand some nurses are not comfortable putting themselves out there like that, but there are groups and individuals who are now starting to do workshops and train nurses to use their voices in this way. And so one of my colleagues, Barbara Glickstein, she's a nurse, but she's also a PR strategist and she does courses and online webinars and stuff for nurses, to help train them on how to talk to the media, how to set yourself up in a way that journalists can find you and to give you the confidence to start doing these things. So if nurses are interested in these things, and I hope that more do become interested in these things, there are ways to train yourself up.

Dan:
Yeah, that was something that I learned in my previous organization is the concept of media training and how to prepare for an interview, how to answer questions that might be asked in weird ways by reporters. And then also just how to handle the public relations side of it after you make quotes and things. So there's definitely a nuance to that. And I'm glad that we have nurses training nurses on that, but there is a little bit nuanced, but the other thing is that shouldn't stop you, don't feel like you have to be trained in order to start getting out there. And then you can build that skill up over time.

Marion:
I totally agree. I mean, I've been doing news interviews for decades now, and I'm still uncomfortable every time I do one, it's just one of those things some people are really naturals at it and some people have to feel the fear and do it anyway. And I lean more towards that, but I feel like it's really important when I have the opportunity to use my voice, especially as a nurse that I need to do that, to represent the profession in the public's view.

Dan:
I totally resonate with that. I've done a fair amount of interviews this COVID season and every time it's like, "All right, what is the report trying to get out of me? How can I frame this in a sound bite? How did I talk fast, but not too fast." All these things are going through my head I'm try to maintain this story, but you just got to do it. I think you just got to bite the bullet and see where it goes. And ultimately, it's out of your control. They'll write what they write or they'll record what they record. And sometimes it's really great. And sometimes you learn from it.

Marion:
Yep. Exactly. I mean, I could go into a number of good in bad interviews I've had, but you do the best you can and you're right, they will edit as they see fit. And that's where having a social media presence and having an ability to then turn it around and clarify on your own network is really helpful.

Dan:
Right, it's that follow-up piece. So for a nurse leader that's listening, what's a good recommended first step to get your voice out there, to be available for news media, or really just establishing yourself as an expert?

Marion:
I was screaming from the rooftops, I really think folks need to have Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. I am more partial to Twitter, there's a great nurse, Twitter presence on that platform. I am less partial in LinkedIn though I understand its benefit, especially in the nursing community. But establishing yourself on either or both of those platforms is really one of the best ways for other nurses, nurse leaders and journalists, the public, to find you and to start crafting yourself as an expert in whatever area you are. My persona on Twitter is not the same as my persona in real life. And I really try and craft my Twitter persona in a certain way to establish myself as an expert in certain areas. And there are definitely lots of blog posts and articles and things where people can learn how to view that if they're not sure, but really just putting yourself out there, being your authentic true self is the best way to start.

Dan:
And you don't have to be a leader to do that either. I mean, you can be a new grad nurse, you can be a student, you can be practicing, wherever you want to be, jump in and join the fray and join the Twitter chats and things. You hosted one, Bonnie Clipper and Wombi hosted one, up there [inaudible 00:24:41], there's all kinds of opportunities to just jump in and test it out and see what comes out of it. So yeah, I love just jump in and make it happen.

Marion:
Yeah. Some of the best voices and best Twitter accounts are not "nurse leaders" but are nursing students, new professionals, young grads, et cetera. Who I learned from every day. So trying to democratize and remove those hierarchies of the academy on who gets to have a voice is really important. And that's really possible on these platforms.

Dan:
Yeah. I can't tell you how much we use and support nurse influencers as part of our business as well. And it gets eyeballs out there and it's a great way to just get a message out to the masses. So I love that jumping in. So this is The Handoff podcast, we like to hand off that critical piece of information to our listeners. So what would you like to hand off to our listeners about innovation and amplifying the nursing voice?

Marion:
I would like to hand off that, just put yourself out there, like we've been talking about. Whether you think you are an expert or not, you are, you have an expertise just solely based on your life experience and knowledge and people need to hear from you. And so don't be afraid to just set up these accounts. Don't be afraid to say yes to news interviews or speaking engagements of any type and just put yourself out there. Prepare, but put yourself out there, the profession needs to hear from you.

Dan:
Love it. Marion, thank you so much for being on the show today. I think the ideas around design thinking and innovation, the amplifying the nursing voice through social media and then figuring out how we can infuse innovation into every aspect of the curriculum as our nurses grow their careers. I think it was great conversation. Where's the best place to find you, you mentioned Twitter, what's your Twitter handle?

Marion:
Sure. My Twitter handle is @marionleary, so just @my name. And really, if you Google me, I am not hard to find. I am on the opposite scale of hard to find, and I'm always happy to talk to anyone, help anyone in any way. So please reach out if you have questions.

Dan:
I love it. We'll put all that in the show notes, take a listen to Amplify Nursing podcast. And Marion, thanks so much for being on the show.

Marion:
Thanks Dan, really appreciate it.

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