Nurses are change agents. We innovate. We solve problems – and not every problem they face is clinical. Join Marion Leary RN MSN MPH FAHA (UPENN Nursing Director of Innovation) who teaches a new course at Penn Nursing, drawn from the world of design and engineering, offering a practical method for rapid innovation.
Design Thinking introduces a methodology that begins by understanding the problem “through the eyes of people who are experiencing it,” says Leary. The five-step process starts with empathizing with those who face the problem you want to solve. When you can understand their problem you’re ready for step two: defining the problem. Think of this as a guiding principle to which you’ll return throughout the project. Next comes ideation–brainstorming–where team members share ideas for a solution. Then you build and test a prototype. “Those are the steps,” says Leary. “But they’re not linear. You’re always checking in with the stakeholders and community members affected by the problem.
“Innovation is not always creating new medical devices,” says Leary, “but reimagining existing systems and applying them to new areas.” Design Thinking works well in health care innovation, she says, because it’s faster-paced than the traditional scientific research process, which can take years. “Design thinking creates rapid prototypes, and allows you to fail fast and then begin again to find just the right solution.”