Nearly Penn Nursing’s Innovation Ecosystem

“About five years ago, we made a commitment to consciously think about nursing and innovation and what innovation meant for Penn Nursing,” says PISC Executive Board Member, Therese Richmond. In that time, the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing has moved towards the creation of a risk-rewarding and failure-affirming environment. These shifts included flipped class focused on design thinking, faculty fellowships with the Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation, enhanced simulation labs, mentoring for students, a podcast, and more.

Dr. Richmond says, this commitment to consciously thinking about nursing and innovation meant securing board support and gathering input from people across campus. During this process, Richmond says, “one thing I quickly learned was that how people define innovation depends on who you’re talking to." Dr. Richmond and colleagues decided that innovation should encompass new patient-care methods and unlikely partnerships centered around improving health and well-being for vulnerable populations. They also determined this innovation should also integrate seamlessly with research. “We really took in the landscape and decided we were going to embrace all of it, not be specifically technology-oriented or focused on commercialization,” says Richmond.

The school’s innovation ecosystem doesn’t stop with its faculty. “You can see the energy from our students around innovation," says Margaret Bond Simon Dean of Nursing, Antonia Villarruel. Graduate students and undergrads have participated in one-off events, showcasing their creativity and passion each time.School of Nursing Director of Innovation, Marion Leary experiences these attributes up-close for an entire semester in a class she teaches called Innovation in Health: Foundations in Design Thinking.

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