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"MacGyver" Nurses: Changing Healthcare One Innovation At A Time

When you think of someone cobbling together a life-saving, innovative solution using nothing but common, household items, you probably think about TV hero “MacGyver”. But the people you should really be thinking about are nurses.

Day to day, nurses face any and every challenge possible as they man the front lines of heath care, and sometimes, the tools they need to accomplish a goal aren’t just missing… they don’t exist! Because of this, nurses across the country are gaining recognition as “Health Care MacGyvers”-medical professionals using their wits, creativity, and anything on hand to build their own tools.

Over the past several years, hospitals across the country have begun embracing the innate ingenuity of nurses, some going as far as providing workshops and materials to tinker, invent, and improve. Some of the tools created so far include goggles for infants in prenatal phototherapy care, IV alarms made from electronic toys, catheter restraints made with parts from Home Depot, and medication-dispensing utility belts to help nurses work hands free.

Of course, this isn’t the first time health care technology has been changed based on the inventiveness of a nurse. As the people who work closest with patients on a day-to-day basis, nurses have a unique perspective on hospital life that allows them to spot problem areas that could easily be solved. Some of the ideas that have come from nurses include:

  1. Color-Safe IV lines to prevent medication errors.
  2. The No No Sleeve, which protects patients from harm by indicating arms that should not be used for medical procedures or IV lines.
  3. The ECT Gown and the GoGown, innovative new hospital gowns that provide modesty while improving defenses against infection and still allowing doctors and nurses quick access to the patient’s body.
  4. The Lotus Stethoscope Holster, which helps prevent injury from medical professionals wearing stethoscopes around their necks for extended periods of time.

“We know from our research that some of the best DIY technologies being used in hospitals and clinics around the world are the inventions of nurses,” says MakerNurse co-founder Jose Gomez-Marquez. “They are translating their instinct to care into a skillset to solve everyday problems and make their patients healthy.”

Nurses are even beginning to be paired with engineers in some hospitals, in hopes that the combination of the nurse’s experience and problem-solving ideas with the engineer’s special training will produce new medical technology that can then be made available worldwide.

Remember, the world of medicine is constantly changing, and as a nurse, you’ll have the opportunity to be a part of that change. So if you see something that can be improved, and the light bulb goes off over your head as to how, speak up! You may just be the mind behind the next great medical innovation.

If you’d like more information about beginning a career as a nurse, contact Unitek College here for more information.