Nurse entrepreneurs: An untapped resource for innovation

nurses
Nurses are not only in demand to provide patient care at hospitals across the country. They also are an untapped resource to develop new medical equipment and products.

Nurses are not only in demand to provide patient care at hospitals across the country. They also are an untapped resource to develop new medical equipment and products.

To make sure nurses play a more active role in healthcare innovation, the University of Minnesota has developed a yearly workshop to provide nurses with the necessary skills to think like entrepreneurs, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports.

Nurses are in an ideal position to invent and provide feedback on medical devices because they spend more time with patients and use medical equipment as part of their daily responsibilities, Thomas Clancy, a clinical professor at the School of Nursing, told the publication.

“Nurses really have a wealth of knowledge about how products work,” Clancy said. “The biggest problem is that knowledge hasn't been tapped.”

Since the nursing school held its first workshop last year, Clancy has received several proposals from participants to improve healthcare. Among the ideas: tools that assess the severity of skin breakdown and a flashlight that easily finds veins.

The challenge is to expand the ideas so that other hospitals can take advantage of the new innovations. So the University of Minnesota aims to teach nurses about advancing their ideas through legal and business channels and provide them with resources about product design prototyping, licensing, and intellectual property. It also hopes to connect nurse inventors to the school's Office of Technology Commercialization and its medical devices center.