Resources and recognition for advancing nurses’ ideas and ingenuity.
Innovation—creating something new or improving on an existing process, product, or idea—is a “fundamental part of the nursing process,” according to Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice, 4th Edition. This foundational document for nursing practice adds, “When nurses are fully empowered to use their knowledge, influence, creativity, and innovative mindsets, a positive future for nursing and healthcare globally will be realized.”
Even if we don’t recognize it as such, nurses innovate hundreds of times daily. A team of nurses critically assesses and updates a long-standing policy that no longer reflects our practice needs. A nurse sees how a tool would fill a process gap. Another thinks, “These three things would totally, positively change the staffing challenges we’re facing.” A nurse develops strategies that help a patient cope with the disease management demands of a new diagnosis.
In these scenarios, and so many others, nurses competently and creatively find solutions to complex challenges and confounding problems. We re-engineer processes and rethink policies. We explore and exploit technologies and concepts. This energy and ingenuity furthers our individual practices and the profession of nursing.
Recognizing how vital imaginative, critical thinking is not only in day-to-day practice but also in envisioning and achieving desired advances, the American Nurses Association (ANA) and American Nurses Foundation (the Foundation) strongly support nurse-led innovation. Both use their national platforms to amplify nurses’ voices and redefine nursing practice.
ANA aims to encourage, recognize, and raise the value of nurse-led innovation in keeping with our vision of a healthy world through the power of nursing. Through efforts such as innovation lounges, innovation awards, See You Now podcast, and NursePitch™, ANA highlights the new skills and roles that nurses take on as they pursue their goals. Through innovation blog posts and the Innovation Online Community, ANA provides opportunities for nurses to describe their own explorations. The Innovation Online Community especially provides a safe space for nurses to get valuable input from colleagues nationwide on their ideas, including seeming failures that are important to the discovery and creation process. At conferences and in webinars, ANA offers learning opportunities for nurses to tap into their creativity and advance ideas into pilot projects and fully implemented processes, programs, and products.
In early 2020, the Foundation embarked on an ambitious groundbreaking project, the Reimagining Nursing (RN) Initiative. This $19 million, multiyear effort aims to elevate the nursing profession’s capability to match the future demands of healthcare. In the fall of 2021, the RN Initiative received 347 inventive proposals that involved reimagining nursing education, regulation, and practice. We’ll soon hear more about the grantees as they steer their ideas over the next 3 years and plan for successful pilots to be disseminated in practice. This exciting initiative—full of bold ideas tackling big barriers that hold back nursing and our healthcare system—could transform practice, regulation, and education in the coming decade.
Both ANA’s and the Foundation’s efforts have highlighted that nurses hold many fascinating roles within and beyond traditional clinical care—we’re scientists, entrepreneurs, policymakers, inventors, and more. We all have insights, knowledge, and creativity with enormous potential for shaping the future of nursing and healthcare. Even minor reboots of everyday practice have meaning and impact.
I encourage all nurses to tap into their creativity and receive well-deserved credit for their ideas, insights, and determination in effecting change. Join in and take us along on your journey.
Ernest J. Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN
President, American Nurses Association