Innovative, International, and Interprofessional: Nursing and Engineering Technology Students Creating New Patient Safety Technology

Sunday, 30 July 2017: 2:50 PM

Pamela Karagory, DNP, MBA, MSB, BSN, RN, CNE
School of Nursing, Purdue University School of Nursing, West Lafayette, IN, USA
Diane Hountz, DNP, ANP, RN
Nursing, Purdue University, School of Nursing, West Lafayette, IN, USA
Jane M. Kirkpatrick, PhD, MSN, BSN
Nursing, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA
Sara A. McComb, PhD, MSES, BSIE, PE
Joint Appointment in School of Nursing & School of Industrial Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA

Background:The role of the professional nurse is undergoing a rapid paradigm shift, with leadership and problem solving becoming cornerstones of nursing practice and key to their role as a member of the interprofessional team. This remodeling of the professional nurses’ roles and responsibilities requires a refocus in socializing students to the profession, interprofessional collaboration, and requires transforming the academic curriculum to include knowledge, skills and attitudes that reflect the role requirements of the professional nurse in today’s healthcare environment. To prepare students to become change agents in improving the care of patients, communities, and populations, active learning and participation in contextual problems and solutions must be experienced. The healthcare safety crisis in the United States requires new approaches, continuous improvement, and interprofessional education that transcends the traditional healthcare disciplines. Nursing has the unique opportunity to champion grassroots efforts to enact change through their immersion and direct influence on patient care, safety, and technology development that support patient centered care and positive healthcare outcomes. As educators, our job is to prepare the newest members of the profession with the tools, skills, motivation, and interprofessional education opportunities to carry out these efforts. Indeed, fundamental nursing skills are expanding to include quality improvement, interprofessional teamwork, and systems thinking (Ironside & McNelis, 2011). The acquisition of these essential skills requires developing experiential learning opportunities that bridge the classroom and practice contexts. National and international service learning, built upon strong academic partnerships, provides the mechanism for successful implementation (Voss et al., 2015).

Purpose:One point of care that creates the greatest risk for nursing back injuries is assisting and transferring patients from the bed to the chair (OSHA, 2013). This high risk and ongoing problem is placing financial burdens on healthcare organizations and career ending injuries for nursing staff (OSHA, 2013). This presentation will describe a pilot Quality Improvement project that partnered senior nursing and engineering technology students in addressing patient transfer/mobility problems through the planning, design, development, building, and testing of a bed to chair transfer device. This active learning and interprofessional team approach allowed the students to collaborate, share their unique knowledge, skills and gain valuable insight into the complexity of creating an efficient, cost effective, and sustainable medical device.

Method:The interprofessional and international project occurred over two academic semesters and required a student team charter, weekly live and Skype work sessions, delineated project roles and responsibilities, and specific product guidelines defined by the project sponsor. The interprofessional work was guided by nursing best practices with four nursing students from a large Midwestern University leading several stages of the project work while gaining a deeper understanding of engineering design guidelines, materials, and hydraulics requirements. Engineering technology team members included a four team cohort from a large Midwestern University and a team from a College of Engineering in the Netherlands. The student designed device was presented by the interprofessional student team at an international conference in the Netherlands in May 2016. This opportunity provided the student team to showcase their work during a travel aboard experience enhancing cultural understanding and global educational engagement.


 A qualitative approach was used to evaluate the student’s perspective of the quality improvement project outcome. Qualitative surveys were developed and distributed and a focus group with students was conducted. Initial results and themes suggest that the nursing students found this interprofessional learning opportunity challenging, empowering, and critical in recognizing the significance and value of the collaboration and synergy between nursing and engineering technology. Findings and identified themes will guide future development, modification, standardization, and expansion of nursing and engineering IPE educational opportunities.

This initial work demonstrates the efficacy of nursing and engineering technology IPE, particularly with respect to empowering the next generation of nursing leaders to enact change through a fundamental understanding of conceptual design, product analytical models, and technology testing. Engineering technology students gained valuable insight into project management, added value of end user participation, and a greater understanding of the challenges and needs of healthcare technology development. Further project evaluation is needed to quantify (1) the effects of the IPE project in the acquisition of team and quality improvement skills, (2) the benefits to students and project sponsors through this collaborative experience, and (3) the impact on long-term interprofessional engagement and professional identity.