Updates from SONSIEL and our Members

A note from Engineer, RN – Re: The Nurse Engineer

September 2nd, 2020|Uncategorized|Comments Off on A note from Engineer, RN – Re: The Nurse Engineer

A note from Engineer, RN – Re: The Nurse Engineer

I am a biomedical engineer with fifteen years of industry experience. In this role, I have had exposure to many industries and healthcare experiences. I have stood in operating rooms, worked on manufacturing floors, participated in innovation and business strategy sessions, and watched in awe as a product that I designed was placed on a baby of only 26 weeks of gestation. I coordinated the innovation efforts of a start-up company, launched a variety of devices into the market, and now have my own engineering consulting business.
Despite covering a lot of ground in the medical device industry, I have not had an impact on patient care that I had always hoped for. While countless solutions were extensively researched and crafted in the conference room, very few have been implemented on the front lines. All the hours I spent defining the state of the art, observing clinical environments, connecting with experts, filing intellectual property, and documenting lessons learned from patient trials, reside in neatly organized, quality controlled, three-ring binders. Most of this insight will neither be published for the benefit of the clinical community nor become incorporated into new products.
While I do not often hear directly from patients, I have not avoided the lament, frustration, or psychological wear that is associated with not meeting patient needs. I believe that whether people who pursue careers in healthcare work on the clinical front lines or behind the scenes, they share the desire to care for those in need and are disappointed when patient needs are not met. About three years ago, when the time had come for me to tackle this disappointment head-on, I began thinking about where to find the answers I sought. I realized that in the world of patient care devices, no one knows more than nurses.
To understand how to unite my engineering experience with that of nurses, I knew I needed to understand the secret sauce, the art of caring for patients. I needed to become a nurse. I am currently in my final semester of nursing school and will soon graduate with a Master of Nursing degree. So far, I’ve learned that my engineering skills marry perfectly with the nursing process.
Nursing school has reinforced my belief that nursing is innovating, and requires continuous problem-solving. For nurses to successfully manage patients and improve health while simultaneously juggling a myriad of tasks requires robust and continuous innovation. Yet, time constraints, lack of formal incentives, and the absence of a recognized innovation system limit nursing’s ability to refine and sustain their developments on the frontline. Nurses must have reliable tools and processes that enable the delivery of care at the moment. Engineers must have reliable information and requirements to supply the tools and processes that meet the need in time. I believe that together nurses and engineers have what it takes to innovate and transform the healthcare system.
To realize the power of this collaboration, I believe we need to embrace a boundary role that is specifically tasked and incented to ensure nurse innovations are properly utilized. Such a full time, permanent role in the clinical setting would empower collaboration with all healthcare stakeholders. This change agent, capable of functioning as both a nurse and engineer, the Nurse Engineer, is described in the clinical literature.1-13 Educational opportunities are now emerging to develop Nurse Engineers, and we will soon enter the workforce.
As I stand at the intersection of nursing and engineering roles, I attest that potential for the Nurse Engineer as a change agent is significant and worthy of implementation. As an engineer I had tested countless IV needless connectors, but I had never actually used one until I did my first saline flush in clinicals. It was at this moment that I fully grasped how interconnected nurses and engineers are in the care of patients. We need to bridge our professions and allow our innovations to flourish. To learn more and to share your thoughts on the Nurse Engineer role, please visit NurseEngineer.com.

1. Nurs Outlook. 1986 Jul-Aug;34(4):196-8. Needed: nurse engineers to link theory and practice. Harrell JS. [PubMed] 2. The American Nurse Today, 12(11), 50-51. 2017. Nurse-Scientists and Nurse-Engineers: Nurse- driven device innovations and inventions can improve patient care. Davis, C.R., & Smith Glasgow, M.E. [PubMed] 3. Comput Nurs. 1990 Jan-Feb;8(1):23-8. Expert nurses and expert systems. Research and development issues. Woolery L1. [PubMed] 4. Comput Nurs. 1993 Mar-Apr;11(2):67-71. The nurse engineer: a way to better nursing information systems. Hendrickson MF1. [PubMed] 5. AACN Clin Issues. 1997 Feb;8(1):71-7. The evolving health-care environment: new arguments for closer collaboration between cardiac surgical intensive-care nurses and clinical engineers. Kelly TJ1. [PubMed] 6. J Nurs Adm. 2004 Sep;34(9):423-7. The NEAT Project: Nursing Engineering Ambassador Team. Maxwell S1, Burns R Jr. [PubMed] 7. Nurs Times. 2006 Jun 27-Jul 3;102(26):36-9. The nurse’s role in contributing to new device development. Weir H1, Grocott P, Ram MB. [Link] 8. J Nurs Manag. 2010 Apr;18(3):248-57. Persistent isolationist or collaborator? The nurse’s role in interprofessional collaborative practice. Orchard CA1. [PubMed] 9. Prog Transplant. 2010 Jun;20(2):148-54. The role of a clinical engineer within a mechanical circulatory support device program: a single center’s experience. Princer K1. [PubMed] 10. Johns Hopkins Nursing. Summer of 2011. Latest in Hybrid Healthcare. Hill, M. [Link] 11. Industrial Engineer: IE, 47(8), 24. 2015. The time has come for nursing engineering. Eisenhauer, W. [Link] 12. Nurs Manag (Harrow). 2015 Jun;22(3):35-40. Evidence-based development in nurse-led interprofessional teams. Pilon B1, Ketel C, Davidson H. [PubMed] 13. J Nurs Scholarsh. 2018 Nov;50(6):601-611. Epub 2018 Sep 17. The Nurse-Engineer: A New Role to Improve Nurse Technology Interface and Patient Care Device Innovations. Glasgow MES1, Colbert A2, Viator J3, Cavanagh S4. [PubMed] Content Goes Here

Disruptive thinking in nursing

August 26th, 2020|Innovation, Leadership, News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Disruptive thinking in nursing

Following the recent recommendation from a mentor and colleague at Hospital for Special Surgery, I sought out SONSIEL online. During my research, I noticed “disruptive” being used frequently to define the group. Disruptive thinking in nursing – the idea that healthcare is ripe for external inspiration and new, creative perspectives to drive innovation – resonated deeply with me and immediately piqued my interest.


This same word was specifically chosen as a defining adjective of my women’s golf company, Grueter Golf. My three best friends from college and I founded GG in 2017 with a mission to “get girls on the green” by breaking down the barriers to entering the world of golf and disrupting the narrative of women in the sport. When we first started golfing, together at age 25, we were incredulous at the host of difficulties women face when attempting to play. The notion that golf is a men’s space permeates so much of the culture. Women rarely receive an invitation to play, the outfit requirements and restrictions are off-putting, the humor is offensive (80% of jokes based on husbands escaping pesky wives), and the casual slights women experience on the course are discouraging. These truths coupled with the undeniable difficulty of the sport itself create an environment too intimidating for most female beginners to overcome. The industry at large has been unsuccessful in growing the game among this demographic, and therefore statistics for apparel, shoe and equipment sales as well as country club memberships remain staggeringly low. We decided that in order for golf to be more accessible and welcoming to women and beginners, the entire approach needed to change.


After some initial investigation, we identified a conservative and outdated way of thinking, confined nearly entirely within the golf space, as a major source of the problem. The three of us approaching golf from completely different fields – real estate development, digital advertising, law, and healthcare – with little to no previous exposure to the game, have unique and fresh perspectives on how to attract new and non-golfers (spoiler: we make it fun). While we still have a lot to learn, our strategies have undoubtedly been working. Grueter Golf hosts several 100+- person outings each year, organizes monthly group clinics at Five Iron Golf, has an active membership of 70+ highly engaged women in four different cities, maintains 5,000+ followers on social media, and manages successful partnerships with industry-leading sponsors to support our growth. In January 2020 we hosted our largest event to date with 225 women across three cities, 70% of whom identified as a beginner.


GG has remained a passion project alongside my profession as a nurse. I have worked throughout my entire career in New York City at both the Hospital for Special Surgery and New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell in the field of orthopedics. I have attempted to utilize this same disruptive mindset to advance the role of the nurse within this specialty. HSS and NYP have a strong relationship and recently formed a new Orthopedic Trauma Service (OTS) to better serve their patients. Historically at these institutions, patients who suffered a fragility fracture were rarely screened or treated for osteopenia and osteoporosis and therefore the rate of secondary fractures within this population was considerably high. While there were several efforts in place to address this issue, the majority had not proven successful. I recognized the need for an entirely new approach to the problem. Under the guidance of a world-renowned leader in metabolic bone disease, orthopedic surgeon, and fervid supporter of nurses, I was given the opportunity to design and implement the hospital’s first-ever Fracture Liaison Service (FLS) as a part of the new OTS. The role was intentionally created with a nurse practitioner (as opposed to an MD) in mind, and now as an NP, I independently treat and manage the metabolic bone disorders of this population. Since the launch of the FLS in September 2019, 250+ patients have been served, significantly easing the burden for the hospital by reducing secondary fractures and associated complications. I am proud that the introduction of the FLS has afforded a nurse to fill a role that is critical to the overall success of a surgeon-led program.


By joining SONSIEL as a ‘Nurse Entrepreneur,’ I hope to engage and collaborate with people in nursing similar to the people I have engaged and collaborated with thus far in both healthcare and golf: likeminded and imaginative individuals who seek impactful change, recognize the difficulty with a rigid or outdated way of thinking, and have the desire, energy, and adaptability to implement new ideas or programs.

Thanks for taking the time to learn about my journey and I look forward to e-meeting everyone this year!


PS: If any readers have ever considered trying golf – even (especially!) if you have never picked up a club in your life – or are simply looking for other women to play with, check out our website: www.gruetergolf.com or reach out to us directly at founders@gruetergolf.com 🙂


Kirsten Grueter AGNP-BC

Fracture Liaison Service

Hospital for Special Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical Center, NYC, NY