Rachel Miller, MSN, RN, CPN: Why Innovate?

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Working as a bedside nurse and transitioning to become one of the managers of a cardiology unit in an Academic Children's Hospital, I witnessed many changes over the course of my career.

One situation that stands out in my memory was when we were preparing to take our first patient on a ventricular assist device (VAD).

The patient, a 4-year-old boy, was transitioning from the cardiothoracic intensive care unit to the cardiology unit. It was the first time a pediatric patient on this particular VAD would be cared for outside of an intensive care unit at any hospital in the country.

I recall the anxiety and fear among the staff (nurses and physicians) and the concerns that our team would not be able to provide the necessary care for this patient; however, there was also a sense of excitement at the idea of doing something new and innovative.

Despite the concerns, we pressed on and provided extensive education to our frontline staff, including the functionality of the device, what measurements should be documented and when to notify the physician.

We also discussed appropriate staffing plans and other necessary logistics (bed placement on the unit and what additional equipment that would be needed).

We wanted to ensure that we could continue to deliver our standard of high-quality care to all our pediatric cardiology patients on the unit while ensuring that the specific needs of the VAD patient could be met. When it came time for the patient to transfer out of the ICU (Go-Time), the transfer happened seamlessly.

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Our team provided excellent care to this patient. Additionally, we were able to rehabilitate and give him the best possible chances of a successful transplant.

His rehabilitation included visits to the physical therapy gym, time playing in the Child Life playroom with other children, and trips outside to the family garden for fresh air.

With this one patient and technology, a transformation came over our staff. Everyone became excited to care for future patients with a VAD. Newer staff were excited to learn how to care for these patients and our team became known for providing progressive care and innovative thinking.

This new environment inspired out of the box thinking of new and different treatments we could provide for our patients, which has continued as new technologies and treatments have launched.

I learned from this experience not to fear change and technology, but to embrace it. No matter how hard you may try, you cannot resist it forever!

My advice to others would be to learn all that you can about technologies and think about how it can assist you in finding better ways to care for patients and can also help you to expand and develop your skills.

Often, the anxiety and fear leading up to a new experience is scarier than the experience itself.

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This article is authored by Rachel Miller, MSN, RN, CPN, senior quality patient care consultant at BJC HealthCare in St. Louis, MO.

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The "Why Innovation" section series is a brief write-up from ACC Health Care Innovation Section members to give readers a background of their professional journey, and explain the significance of innovation to their work and in the field.

Authors can include their personal definition of innovation, as well as tips or tricks on how to bring innovative ideas to the table in otherwise traditional settings and spaces.