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Revolutionary Innovation Lab Visits LLU School of Nursing

Problem-solving skills are intrinsic in the professional nursing landscape and require forward thinking, collaborative effort and, most of all, a creative approach to leadership and care. While not everyone’s natural strengths are rooted in a creative process, we may seek to develop the dimensions and capacity of our problem-solving skillset through innovative reflection and application. On August 30th through September 1st, Karen Tilstra, Co-Founder of Florida Hospital Innovation Lab (FHIL), came to Loma Linda University School of Nursing with a team of Innovation Designers to offer the School of Nursing faculty and staff a one-of-a-kind workshop experience, where they identified, developed and actually applied their own approach to creative leadership and design thinking in order to improve the services the school provides. Associate Dean, Barbara Ninan, was a key proponent for the workshop, stating, “It brought us together to begin co-creating our future at the School of Nursing. The collaborative team approach used by FHIL provided everyone an opportunity for their individual voices to be heard and stimulated everyone’s creativity in a fun way.”

Divided into mixed groups, the faculty and staff were tasked to recognize a shared goal to improve the School of Nursing. The question that arose early on and set the tone for the conversation was, “How can the School of Nursing revolutionize its program in order to maintain relevance and meet the needs of the changing healthcare landscape?” The Innovation team called for each group to brainstorm their own approach to answering this question. And while adjustment to the curriculum design and student experience stood out as clear consenting solutions, the group projects represented a spectrum of process improvement ranging from elevating the quality of the student environment to establishing new modes of student emotional support to mining alumni experience data through focus groups and more. Assistant Professor, Kelly McHan, explained the diverse nature of the group projects, saying, “Curriculum affects so much more than just what occurs in the classroom; it encompasses the whole student experience, and drives student competence in meeting workplace challenges after they graduate.”

All projects were presented as “prototypes” to a panel of Administrative staff who agreed that the results offered a promising set of options for process improvement. With consistent follow through, curriculum design and student experience are areas of feasible enhancement within the next year. The status of the projects will remain adaptive to discovery and change but the overall goal will remain constant. Dr. Ninan reports that, “Moving forward we will build on the foundation that was created at the workshop. Each Undergraduate Faculty Meeting will include time for the groups to meet together and to report their plans and progress to the larger group.”

The immersive experience of the design thinking workshop is one that will not only impact the quality of curriculum and student experience; it has already left its mark on many of the faculty. Director of RN to BS program and Assistant Professor, Nancie Parmenter shared a common response, saying “[The experience] took me outside of my comfort zone by encouraging me to be less prescriptive and more spontaneous…I’m not used to letting ideas flow in any which direction It was a learning experience.”

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