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  • I love nursing.

  • And I also love innovation.

  • However, often when I speak about innovation

  • within the field of nursing,

  • I'm met with:

  • "Ugh."

  • And it's understandable.

  • Innovation in technology within the health care sector

  • is growing really fast.

  • And sometimes it can be a little bit difficult to keep up

  • with the new technologies.

  • And now, as a new professional within the field,

  • I'm slowly starting to relate a little bit more to this response.

  • Us nurses are already really busy.

  • We're not offered the opportunity to innovate,

  • and quite frankly, we're not paid enough.

  • However,

  • if we could change this attitude of innovation earlier on,

  • during nursing education,

  • I believe we could have our future nurses innovate

  • in a way to improve the working quality for health care professionals,

  • which in turn will improve patient care.

  • This is the key to making our future nurses the stakeholders

  • within the future development of the health care system.

  • So what is innovation?

  • It's a bit of an ambiguous word

  • that can mean a lot of different things to many different people.

  • But simply put, innovation is looking at a problem,

  • understanding it and trying to make it better.

  • And if you make it better, that's innovation.

  • Innovation can be applied to something which already exists,

  • or it can be used to develop something completely new.

  • But before we go deeper into this topic,

  • let me tell you all a story

  • which inspired me to have this speech here today.

  • When I started my final internship for my nursing studies at the end of 2020,

  • I had an interview with the ward manager on the first day.

  • One of the questions which she asked me was,

  • "So, Ben, where do you see yourself going in the next five to 10 years?"

  • Honestly, I had to think about it for a little while.

  • And then I told her,

  • "Well, to be honest, I don't think I can be a nurse forever.

  • It's really hard work.

  • Like, really, really hard.

  • Both physically and emotionally.

  • But I am passionate about health care

  • and would love to pursue a future career in health care innovation and technology."

  • And yes, I know some you might think it's a little bit strange for a near-graduate

  • to be planning on leaving his career on the first day of his internship.

  • And, you know what she said?

  • Well, she said,

  • "Oh, I see.

  • I'm not too sure about this whole innovation thing.

  • I'm not really a big fan."

  • Whoa, whoa, whoa, OK.

  • I was taken aback.

  • See, that's what I wanted to do.

  • The egotistical part of me wanted to say,

  • β€œWhat do you mean, you don't like innovation?

  • You don't want to improve the working quality for health care professionals,

  • which, in turn, will improve patient care?”

  • Well, I didn't say that, obviously.

  • Instead, I asked her one simple question.

  • And that was:

  • "Why?"

  • And what she told me gave me the biggest light-bulb moment.

  • She said,

  • β€œWell, too often a businessperson or an engineer comes to me

  • with a new technology or innovative idea.

  • And more often than not, it's not very user-friendly,

  • or it just adds more to our workload."

  • OK.

  • So I'm standing there and I'm thinking,

  • Ding!

  • This is the moment that I realized that there's a huge disconnect

  • between the developer and the end user within the health care sector.

  • In fact, this isn't the first time I've gotten this kind of response.

  • Throughout my studies and now my career,

  • I've often recognized that there's a bit of a frustration factor

  • whenever new technologies or processes are introduced.

  • So on our days full of making reports,

  • taking patients' vitals,

  • communicating with doctors, physiotherapists, family members,

  • taking patients' vitals again and charting

  • and God, am I forgetting something?

  • Well, that's honestly on a good day.

  • But most of the time we're covering for our colleagues

  • who are away on sick leave due to burnout,

  • taking on extra administrative roles

  • because hospitals are trying to save money.

  • And answering call bells.

  • The call bells.

  • Especially to independent patients

  • who all of a sudden can't do anything for themselves anymore.

  • So if there's anybody out there who knows a nurse,

  • which most of you probably do,

  • go ahead and ask them to share a story with you about call bells

  • and these kinds of patients.

  • They're often quite amusing, but at the time,

  • oh, so frustrating.

  • So, yeah,

  • adding a new technology or process on top of all of this,

  • especially when going through beta stage flaws,

  • only adds on to the headache.

  • And you see, nursing is changing.

  • It's not the same that it was 20 to 30 years ago.

  • Neither is the health care system,

  • and it seems like education has not quite caught up.

  • A lot of new technologies are being introduced

  • and most of nurses' time still being spent completing mundane and repetitive tasks.

  • In addition to this, we're seeing an aging population,

  • we're seeing an increase in the cost of care,

  • patients' needs are more demanding

  • and a shortage in health care staff.

  • However, we could have these repetitive and mundane tasks of charting

  • aided by AI and technologies as small as a ring taking patient's vitals.

  • This would hopefully leave more time for nurses to communicate

  • and provide care for their patients,

  • but also give them an opportunity to solve problems within their organizations.

  • In fact, the World Health Organization estimates

  • that by 2030

  • there's going to be a global health care shortage

  • with nine million those being nursing-specific.

  • This is caused by experienced nurses coming towards their retirement,

  • a poor retention rate of new professionals

  • and less people entering the field altogether.

  • It's not looking very good.

  • So we're at a point now where we can no longer wait

  • and see if these advancements will happen in the health care sector.

  • We're at a point now where these advancements, technologies have to happen.

  • But who are the ones

  • who should be driving these advancements and technologies?

  • Well, the answer is, frontline health care workers, nurses.

  • We're the ones who have been using all of the technologies

  • which have been introduced thus far.

  • We work with them every day, see where their flaws are,

  • and some of us might have pretty good ideas on how to make them better.

  • But most importantly,

  • us nurses are the ones who truly understand

  • what aspects of our jobs can be replaced with future technologies.

  • If we can combine

  • the frontline experience of nurses

  • with the innovative approaches of businesspeople and engineers,

  • just imagine

  • the improvements we could see.

  • We could actually start solving the problems nurses face every day

  • by including them, the end user,

  • within the development phase.

  • So that comes now to my main question.

  • How do we solve this multi-dimensional issue?

  • It is quite a big one.

  • Well, a good start would be by looking into our education system.

  • From my experience, going through my bachelor degree in nursing,

  • they take a bunch of nursing students

  • where a nurse in the front of the class teaches them about nursing.

  • And it makes sense.

  • But what this does is it creates a nursing bubble within the university,

  • and sometimes it can be a little bit difficult

  • to penetrate through that barrier.

  • What it does is it narrows your path

  • to where what you learn is only useful for that profession

  • without exploration and problem solving within the industry.

  • As a nursing student going through a bachelor's degree,

  • you're merely handed the tools and taught how to use them.

  • There's very little emphasis on being able to look at that tool and thinking,

  • "Aha, this would work much better if it was made like this."

  • And here's the thing.

  • Universities are networking havens.

  • We're literally working in establishments

  • where we have people working on business and marketing,

  • IT, engineering, design, culture, health care.

  • And that is only the tip of the iceberg.

  • As a student,

  • I was lucky enough to be a part of a group

  • who were really keen on extracurricular innovation projects.