So many projects being posted on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter – the DIY culture is booming. All over the country makerspaces are popping up are pouring out products of those ambitious enough to create their own. I believe now, the quality and practicality of a 3D printed project has become important as a whole. Perfect example – MIT and the Robert W Johnson Foundation recently backed a new program called MakerNurse, an organization to encourage nurses to be creators.
MakerNurse came about when co-founder Anna Young found nurses in Central America creating devices to help them with their daily tasks with whatever was on hand. For instance, one nurse repaired a stethoscope diaphragm with an overhead transparency. Another nurse in Massachusetts made it easier to feed a patient with a feeding tube.
How does MakerNurse help? Aside from visiting hospitals around the country to see what’s being created for a study that will be published next year, the site provides digital fabrication equipment such as laser cutters and 3D printers, allowing nurses to design on screen. There’s also an electronics section for adding intelligence to various objects along with a range of assembly and curator tools.
In addition, there’s a human “facilitator” on-hand to help nurses and the space also invites makers in residence from the local area. Though it sounds a little silly there’s also a selfie station, but instead of posting them on Instagram, these selfies are used to capture their creations and to develop “how-tos” so others can recreate their solutions.
Nurses can use the makerspace to not only create new tools, but to customize materials for individual patients or upgrade an existing hospital device. As you would expect, all devices made in the space are sterilized and tested through a quality improvement or institutional review board before it’s brought out on the hospital floor.
So far, the program seems to be a success. Two weeks into the program 107 nurses have registered and several creations have already been made. Some of the new inventions include laser-cut bandages for babies under 28 days old, a shower system for the burn unit, and a water-proof shield allowing patients with IV lines to shower without having to remove them.
The program hopes to open up these spaces in various hospitals across the United States and one facility has already jumped on board. The University of Texas Medical Branch’s (UTMB) John Sealy Hospital in Galveston, Texas has one of these spaces. THE UTMB MakerHealth program provides a permanent facility for nurses to build solutions to make their jobs easier. Training and assistance is also available for users on hand.
MakerNurse is a great innovative program to not only encourage nurses to be creative and more hands on in their field, these new inventions could also make hospitals more efficient. You can also check out their community, MakerNurse Create, to collaborate with other makers in the medical field, share, and make your own health devices with step-by-step instructions posted in each project.