What Makes Nurses Natural Innovators?


If you want to be innovative, get close to people. Learn about what is going on in their lives and how they experience what is going on in their lives. This is the bedrock of human-centered design and, as so rightly pointed out by The Hatchery's recent Emory Innovators guest, is essentially a job requirement for nurses. This guest was Sharron Close, Ph.D., MS, CPNP-PC, FAAN, and Assistant Professor at Emory University, and she gave the audience of Emory Innovators a great deal of useful perspective on what innovators can learn from nurses about innovation.

Dr. Close's clinical research is focused on pediatric primary care, developmental pediatrics, management of chronic conditions of genetic origin, and variations of sex chromosome aneuploidy. Dr. Close is a hands-on practitioner of innovation, who has prototyped many products for improving health care, including a human-mimetic cuddling device to simulate warmth and touch for hospitalized infants and children known as Cuddle Care, a biologic-based automotive device to prevent hot car deaths known as CoALA (Carbon Dioxide-Assisted Life Alert), Cool-care, a silicone-based itch and pain relief device to deliver cutaneous symptom relief, FemCare, an external urinary catheter device intended to reduce the need for indwelling urinary catheters that are associated with catheter-associated urinary tract infections, and Testo Gel-dot, an absorbable polymer patch designed to deliver transcutaneous testosterone for androgen-deficient patients.

She is a board-certified pediatric nurse practitioner with a BS, MS, and Ph.D. from Columbia University School of Nursing in New York. She is a Fellow in the New York Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Nursing. Dr. Close teaches pediatric primary care in the School of Nursing and practices in the School of Medicine Department of Human Genetics.

Dr. Close's own innovation work is fueled by her practice of working closely and empathizing with her patients. Their experiences of receiving medical care, combined with her own curiosity and empathy, have led her to invent novel solutions to human problems. For Dr. Close, this is in many ways the natural habitat of nurses and uniquely positions them to develop medical innovations. Dr. Close also shared a methodology she finds helpful, narrative medicine, for balancing the desire to respond quickly to human suffering with the necessary reflection of innovation work. In addition to her own work as an inventor and innovator, Dr. Close wants to ensure that her students and her patients know that their ideas and experience are valuable and are the beginnings of new solutions. 

To hear more from Dr. Close, you can watch or listen to the conversation. To stay up-to-date on everything happening at The Hatchery, you can subscribe to their newsletter

To learn more about The Hatchery visit Hatchery.emory.edu or email The Hatchery staff at thehatchery@emory.edu. The Hatchery is a unit of Emory University Academic Innovation.

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