by. Kathryn H. Bowles, PhD, RN, FAAN Senior Editor
Professor and Ralston House Endowed Term Chair in Gerontological Nursing
University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
Bowles, K. H. (2012). From nurse scientist, to nurse entrepreneur, to ringing the closing bell at NASDAQ. Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI), 16 (3), Available at http://ojni.org/issues/?p=2018
Last month I experienced one of the most thrilling events of my career. It was something very novel for nurses and way out of my comfort zone. My colleagues and I got to ring the closing bell at NASDAQ!
Although novel, the event was based on two things we as nurse scientists often achieve, that is, generating research evidence for practice change and including students in our work. Years ago, 2004-2005 in fact, an undergraduate systems engineering student joined my research team to work on our National Institute of Nursing Research funded study (R01NR007674). We were addressing a problem we discovered that hospitalized patients were being discharged without referrals to home care and other post-acute services as expected. We were funded to build an expert discharge decision support system to help discharge planners and other clinicians with these frequent and complex decisions. The student worked with us for a year and helped us with database development and data management. He subsequently graduated from Penn and after several years of work experience the student returned to Penn and completed the Wharton Business School Executive MBA program.
We recently reunited when each of us independently decided the product of our research was a potential solution for the problem of readmissions that had become a focus of quality improvement nationally. I sought a path to disseminate our work as broadly and quickly as possible and he was interested in the entrepreneurial opportunity. Based on the research generated by our team at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, a company was formed called RightCare Solutions. The former student is now the Chief Executive Officer of the company and our discharge decision support system is licensed to them through Penn’s Upstart Technology Transfer program.
While in the Wharton program the CEO and two classmates developed the business plan for RightCare Solutions. They entered the Wharton Business Plan competition and among over 250 applicants won first prize as the Michelson Grand Prize winner. This honor led to the invitation to ring the closing bell at NASDAQ!
The take home point of this story is to encourage nurses to take risks, to think about creative ways we can translate our work to practice and to move beyond our usual comfort zone to innovate. Starting a business provides a tremendous opportunity to make a difference in patients’ lives and to see our work translated into practice more rapidly than our usual channels of dissemination. Further, please welcome students of all disciplines to join your teams. They bring fresh perspectives, and in our case lifelong partnerships, with limitless possibilities for collaboration. I have learned so much through this entrepreneurial experience. Developing business plans, contracts, marketing strategies, budgets, hiring, and negotiating were not among my skills. However, nurses are well positioned to create new innovations through our science and we owe it to the public to use every creative avenue to disseminate our work broadly. And, you can have some fun along the way. Ringing the closing bell at NASDAQ and seeing our team’s faces and logo on the NASDAQ tower at Times Square is a moment I will never forget.