This kind of creativity happens a lot in nursing, but it's often quiet, unheralded, and anonymous. And it stays stuck on the ward where the nurse is working, almost never seeing the light of day outside the tiny little sphere where it was invented.
"They never got that positive reinforcement," Gomez-Marquez says of such creative nurses.
Gomez-Marquez wants to change that. That's why MIT's Little Devices Lab, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has launched MakerNurse, a nationwide hunt for these DIY, "MacGyver nurses" who are creating new devices and workarounds to fix healthcare problems and improve patient care.
MakerNurse isn't an incubator for ideas. Instead, it aims to "study nurse making in hospitals and identify ways to better support inventive nurses," according to the website. It wants to collect images and stories about these kinds of inventions, talk with nurses who are doing this kind of work, and help them in their endeavors. And it also wants to give these nurses recognition they deserve.
"They don't even do it because they wanted to be creative…they did it because they wanted to get the job done," Gomez-Marquez says.
Some nurses do commercialize the products they develop in the line of work. But MakerNurse isn't really about commercialization. In fact, it's about imparting value and recognition on things that don't get patented or commercialized.