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The need for innovation in healthcare is strong and nursing programs are meeting the demand.

“Innovation is such a key part of our college,” says Judy Karshmer, dean of the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation at Arizona State University (ASU).

The university recently received a $50 million gift from Charlene and J. Orin Edson, to be split evenly between the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation and the Biodesign Institute in support of the university’s research on dementia and to enhance education and training for nurses and caregivers.

ASU nursing graduates receive hands-on experience with high-tech simulation and develop innovative solution skills with cross-disciplinary partners.

“We have a commitment to all of our undergraduate students. Even students in health programs not requiring clinical experience have numerous internship opportunities,” says Karshmer. “When people graduate, they’re work-ready.”

Program variety

For the past four years, U.S. News and World Report has named ASU the No. 1 school in the country for innovation. 

That innovation extends to the many nursing programs offered. For example, they’re developing a dual degree for geriatric nurse practitioners and a Ph.D. in dementia care. Once the program launches, ASU will be one of only a few schools to offer a truly integrated dual degree.

The school also has the Grace Center for Innovation in Nursing Education, focusing on nursing simulation and competence-based education.

In addition, ASU offers a Master of Nursing program, as well as a Master of Healthcare Innovation program for physicians, nurses, hospital administrators, and entrepreneurs.

“Because we’re interprofessional, we have nurses and non-nurses in class together in a lot of situations that bring different perspectives on issues,” she says.

Plus, ASU’s Center for Innovation in Healthy and Resilient Aging is situated in Phoenix, where there’s a large number of seniors and researchers can focus on aging well. 

Karshmer is personally committed to helping anyone who wants to become a nurse achieve that goal.

“ASU prides itself not in whom we exclude, but in whom we are able to include,” she says.

While they don’t have a medical school, ASU partners with all of the large regional health systems and facilities in Phoenix, the fifth largest city in the country.

They’re developing Academic Practice Partnerships so clinics and hospitals get 10 nursing students who do all of their clinical training at that location. It’s a win-win: students get on-the-job training and the providers and facilities benefit from these student nurses, meeting a need at their facility.

“How can we form unique relationships with each so it’s not a one-size-fits-all but truly a way to advance the priorities of the hospital or the clinic?” asks Karshmer. 

Innovation and technology

“It’s really important that our future leaders in the healthcare system understand the multi-dimensions of innovation,” says Rick Hall, Ph.D., clinical professor and director of health innovation programs at Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation.

He says medicine and healthcare are changing and will continue to change. That’s why it’s important to teach a system-wide approach to innovation, including talking about technology, evidence-based practices, communication, finance, and policy. 

“We’re training students for jobs that don’t yet exist because the job market will change in the next 5-10 years,” says Hall, explaining they’re teaching students how to solve problems and how to create environments of innovation.

For example, students learn about artificial intelligence software, which can use computer algorithms and machine learning to recognize patient symptoms to recommend a diagnosis. 

They also learn about telemedicine, and augmented and virtual reality, such as gamifying physical therapy exercises.

All Edson College students participate in health innovation projects, ranging from diabetes to back problems to aging populations. 

“Our goal is to create leaders in the healthcare world who can encourage and create innovative environments,” says Hall. 

Kristen Castillo, [email protected]mediaplanet.com

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