U of M Workshop Encourages Medical Innovations through Nurses

January 01, 2017 04:22 PM

Walking inside the McNamara Alumni Center at the University of Minnesota, a large group of people is heard shouting out ideas while one person tapes the ideas to a wall. The room full of nurses from across the Twin Cities metro is in the midst of an idea-generating improv game.

The gathering is put on by the School of Nursing, the U of M Medical Device Center and College of Design.

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Nurses like Stephanie Gingerich work with medical devices all the time, and sometimes nurses have to adapt those devices to fit their patient's needs. So why couldn't some of those innovations and adaptations actually turn into commercial products?

"There's a lot that we know and experience in our practice," Gingerich said. "How do we get from that point, from our idea developing, to actually implementing it fully developed?"

The U of M School of Nursing wants to help these nurses navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship.

"I'm talking about the commercialization process, the process that they actually need, and sort of the maze they have to go through to do that, and it includes things like intellectual property, business planning and how to pitch your idea," organizer Tom Clancy said.

Dr. Casey Hooke is a success story; she worked for years with chemo patients at Masonic Children's Hospital. Hooke eventually developed an apparatus that keeps IV pole medication tubes from dragging on the ground. It reduces the amount of germs that get transferred to patients, which reduces the chances of life-threatening infections. She says the entire process was amazing.

"It was just an idea, but I think that also shows when you get connected to the right resources, you can really take off with an idea," Hooke said.

Who knows? Some of these nurses could be on the cusp of the next great medical breakthrough.

This workshop happens once per year, and this is the second event. The first year they had 30 participants, and this year the workshop had upwards of 130 registered.


Todd Wilson

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