In Focus
Nursing

Mount Mercy Hosts Iowa’s First MakerNurse Workshop

By Leah Grout Garris

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n summer 2016, Sharon Guthrie, assistant professor of nursing and director of Mount Mercy’s graduate nursing programs, participated in the National Association of School Nurses’ first-ever Innovation Relay. This challenge called on school nurses to spend 24 hours solving any common on-the-job problem. The excitement and creativity stemming from nursing innovation prompted Guthrie to bring this enthusiasm to nurses in Iowa.

At about this same time, Guthrie learned about MakerNurse, a national program initiated by MakerHealth that helps nurses develop their ideas for better patient care. She reached out to learn more.

Meanwhile, Rose Hedges ’10, ’12 MSN, provider informatics specialist at UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s, was searching for a way to complete 1,000 clinical hours for her doctorate in nursing practice. “I’m big on bringing glory back to the bedside,” says Hedges. “A lot of my research focuses on being innovative to engage and retain nurses.”

MakerNurse Craig demonstrates his creation.

Guthrie mentioned MakerNurse to Hedges, and an idea was born: bring Iowa’s first-ever MakerNurse event to Mount Mercy University. “We knew this could help so many nurses in our area,” says Hedges.

On Sept. 15, 2017, Mount Mercy University became the first to host a MakerNurse workshop in Iowa. The goal: to get nurses in attendance—some who were Mount Mercy graduates—to look at problems differently, proving that innovation is possible in almost any situation. “Nurses solve problems at the bedside every day,” says Hedges. “They just might not talk about it or think about it.”

The nurses who participated were encouraged to come up with out-of-the-box solutions to address challenges that slow them down or create patient discomfort. Several new ideas were brainstormed, created, and discussed:

  • an IV “snuggie” to prevent tubes from freezing as helicopter nurses move patients from helipads to ERs.
  • a weighted eye mask that serves as an alternative to taping eyelids shut before surgery.
  • a secure bond that creates a silicon-like seal to keep EKG patches in place.
  • a restraint vest for use in behavioral health units that prevents patients from falling down.

The nurses who participated were encouraged to come up with out-of-the-box solutions to address challenges that slow them down or create patient discomfort.


MakerNurse attendees then presented their ideas to a panel of experts for feedback, including a nurse scientist from the University of Iowa and a local student who builds apps for nurses studying for board exams.

“You could see the lightbulbs going off,” says Hedges. “Nurses who came thinking, ‘I’m not creative,’ got to see that they can do this. You could feel the energy. In the future, I predict that this type of education and training will be part of nursing curricula.”

The attendees were also given access to online tools from MakerHealth that will help them continue to troubleshoot and bring new concepts to the table as they move their ideas forward.

“Nurses came in facing the unknown and left with excitement,” says Guthrie. “This is a whole new way of learning instead of sitting in lectures.” ■

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