Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles 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, “What 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, “Well, 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.