Interdisciplinary innovation recognized

UAB Solution Studios was recognized as the Interdisciplinary Initiative of the year.

Photo: Solution StudiosUAB Solution Studios™ an innovation partnership of the UAB School of Nursing, School of Engineering, Honors College Science and Technology Honors Program and UAB Medicine got its start in January 2016, but it has already encouraged more than 250 students and clinicians to come together to develop clinical advancements.

Its impact has already been felt, and in October, Solution Studios was recognized as the Interdisciplinary Initiative of the year at the UAB Innovation Breakfast.

“Solution Studios is truly interdisciplinary, and our undergraduate students are right at the heart of the action in the hospital, working in teams with clinical experts to solve complex problems,” said Solution Studios Director of Education and UAB School of Nursing Assistant Professor Nancy Wingo, MA, PhD. “Our program involves everyone: students, clinicians, patients, faculty and staff.”

Solution Studios collects real-world problems from UAB School of Nursing faculty, Clinical Nurse Leader graduate students, and clinicians at UAB Hospital and Children’s of Alabama and posts them for students to see. Students then find problems that pique their interest and form teams to address them, working alongside clinical partners.

“To our knowledge, there is no other institution with a similar program where undergraduates at the freshman, sophomore and senior levels have such directed opportunities to impact patient care through their own innovations,” said Solution Studios Director of Engineering and UAB Department of Biomedical Engineering Associate Professor Joel Berry, PhD. “Solution Studios instills a sense of empathy for patients, a feeling of empowerment to implement change in a clinical setting and an opportunity to complete entrepreneurial activities.”

Students also make contacts around campus, which opens the door to new opportunity, Berry said.

“This opens students’ eyes to the complex world of health care and helps them learn how they can make a difference,” Wingo said. “Additionally, clinicians have told us that this process gives them hope, not only by giving them a platform on which to post their problems, but also by seeing these young, bright students tackle problems with such drive.”

For Solution Studios Director of Clinical Partnerships Kristen Noles, RN, MSN, CNL, it is inspiring to see students become passionate about finding these solutions and improving health care.

“Even small steps toward a solution can make a big difference in the lives of patients and health care providers,” said Noles, a UAB SON alumna and nurse manager at the UAB Acute Trauma Care Unit and Clinical Decision Unit. “These STEM students bring a new, unique perspective and approach to clinical problems, and that collaboration creates a great environment for potential solutions.”

Receiving the Interdisciplinary Initiative of the Year award was an exciting experience that also recognized the hard work of clinicians and students. Solution Studios has already expanded to an open-access software, which allows even more students to participate, and there are plans to extend outside of campus as well.

“We want to scale Solution Studios outside the walls of UAB to other institutions where engineering, nursing and STEM students interact with clinicians,” Berry said. “Increasing the number of students and number of clinicians interacting this way increases the odds that something really impactful will happen in health care.”
Last modified on March 22, 2019

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