Empowering Nurses as Leaders and Innovators

By Sangeeta Agarawal, RN, MS, CEO and Founder, Helpsy Health; a HIMSS Nursing Informatics Community Member and NursePitch Winner

Sangeeta Agarawal, RN, MS

"You don’t want to be messing around in healthcare on your own, it’s a doctor’s job. If you want to be taken seriously, have an MD lead the company."

Every day, nurses strive to serve patients. Unfortunately, sometimes the larger community dismisses the value of nurses.

As I was building my company, Helpsy Health, I received many disheartening responses that compared my credentials as a registered nurse to those of doctors’ who are perceived as more capable to lead.

This mindset holds our healthcare industry back. Nurses are on the front line of care, always at the beside of the patients. Nurses are too often underrepresented or our opinions are undervalued. So, the problems we can help solve in healthcare continue to remain unaddressed.

RELATED: Blazing New Trails for Nurse-Led Innovation

Nurses are innovators by nature. We saw Florence Nightingale, pioneer of modern nursing, and her bold efforts in improving healthcare in the 20th century. That spirit continues to be reflected today by the many role models in nursing, including my own: Cynthia Cantril, RN, OCN, CBCN, MPH, oncology nurse and Biden Cancer Initiative’s FIERCE Award recipient; Liane Parker who built a comprehensive program for cardio and cancer care management; and Sue Schneider, PhD, RN, AOCN, FAAN, past Oncology Nursing Society president who is supportive towards my growth.

Nurses bring nurse innovation to light in their efforts to advocate for patients’ needs. Yet, oftentimes we do not consider ourselves as innovators or leaders as we are used to seeing ourselves as mere extensions of doctors’ care.

This highlights the importance of nursing organizations, such as HIMSS and the American Nurses Association, to educate and champion nurses as innovators.

For the first time at HIMSS Global Conference, we had an opportunity to take center stage as an innovator in healthcare space through NursePitchTM, which provided the opportunity for nurses to pitch their innovations. When we won, it felt like the entire nursing community rejoiced with us because we all knew that it was a significant milestone for our profession.

All this is possible because fellow nurse leaders and healthcare professionals worked hard to create this program. That’s the power of having nurses coming together as innovators and leaders.

If we are serious about improving care continuity while reducing cost of care, we need to empower nurses to take up space as leaders in the field. Nurses have always been and will always be innovators. As nurse innovators, we should focus on lifting each other’s work.

It’s time to normalize nurse leaders and listen up to the wave of innovation that nurses are bringing into healthcare.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog or by commenters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HIMSS or its affiliates.

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