President's Message; Volume 18, Issue 3

Innovation, Inspiration, and Imagination: Put Yourself Out There

By: Susan Carlson, MSN, RN, ACNS-BC, GNP-BC, FNGNA

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Susan Carlson If you are interested in having a truly humbling and exhilarating experience – one that might be described as “to infinity and beyond”, or nicknamed “extreme learning” - simply sign up for one of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 150 Symposia open to the public to showcase and celebrate its accomplishments over the past 150 years. Being interested in a variety of subjects, I enrolled in the course titled, “Computation: The Transformation of Practically Everything” 1 on April 11 &12. After all, I did take four years of math in high school – taught by Mr. Trulson, a genius of a teacher - so I decided it would be great idea!

Some of you may remember the iconic TV commercial several years ago advertising Maxell Sound Systems. The image is of a guy sitting in a low, easy chair with his hands gripping the armrests while gale force winds blow his hair straight back, necktie permanently in fixed position. That closely describes my experience with this course. After the initial shock, it was absolutely fascinating to hear pioneers in the fields of computer science and engineering discuss the advancements with computers since first introduced primarily for storing information. I thought about how, during the course of only a few decades, our world has been transformed in the most fundamental ways. For example, we are so connected electronically to our mobile devices with apps for everything imaginable, and we can view nearly real-time events with YouTube videos at our fingertips.

I was struck by the delay in the American healthcare industry to keep pace with the integration of technology – the fragmentation is alarming. Certainly there are large pockets of healthcare innovation throughout the U.S. and new models of care that promise to improve services and quality, but we have a long way to go to make our healthcare person-centered, state-of-the-art, and affordable. Let’s think beyond our present reality toward a future transformed into the best that science, technology, and the human spirit can imagine.


Person-Centered Care (PCC):

By definition PCC is a “comprehensive and on-going process of transforming an entity’s culture and operation into a nurturing, empowering one that promotes purpose and meaning and supports well-being for individuals in a relationship-based, home environment.” 2 Referenced from Assisted Living literature, it has application in all care settings because the focus is on nurturing and empowering others. Taking it one step further, this philosophy also applies to the working environment for staff - an organization treats its staff in the same manner they will treat their residents, patients and customers. Organizations and associations like NGNA must remain focused on their mission and core values to create a supportive learning environment within all its entities – board, fellows, committees, chapters, staff, and new and renewing members. Potential members are attracted and drawn to an organization driven to achieve tangible goals while valuing the process of discovery and creativity in a “people first” culture.


State-of-the Art Care:

Thankfully in the area of advancing evidence-based nursing practice, gerontologic nurses have access to an abundance of free or moderately priced teaching materials, webinars, protocols, assessment and competency tools – all developed through the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing (HIGN). Visit their website at to explore their full spectrum of online evidence-based materials available through links to Nursing Improving Care for Health Care Elders (NICHE);; and HIGN Learning Center. The latter is a continuing education portal to courses, tools and other resources. Gerontological nursing is grounded in an exploding body of research that links science and practice. And that’s a good thing! Baby boomers are in no mood to wait for research and development, they are arriving in numbers larger than our healthcare system can currently handle, and the debate over where Medicare money should or should not be allocated is headline news.


Affordable Healthcare:

It is very difficult to know where to begin a conversation related to the cost of our current healthcare system and what constitutes affordable care. Innovations in delivery models are pushing us farther away from traditional methods of healthcare financing, to the introduction of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and Value-Based Purchasing (VBP).3-4 While the language may be new, the scientific principles used are founded on quality measures and best practices. I say, let’s put America’s brightest minds from the fields of informatics and engineering together with the brilliant minds from the health sciences and get to work. Let’s inspire and challenge ourselves and others to solve problems with our heads and our hands so that we can transform “practically everything”, including the way we deliver healthcare. Although our system is extremely complex, so is cellular and molecular biology, yet those fields manage to function and adapt in a changing environment. Put yourself out there and begin to read, explore, and experience the world beyond what we know to be true today.


Reality Check

As we return to the reality of today, I hope you celebrated Nurses Day on May 6th. This year’s theme is Nurses Trusted to Care. Take a moment to really appreciate the honor of representing a profession that is trusted by those we serve - another humbling and exhilarating experience.

This message is dedicated to all those who entrust us to their care.

In appreciation,




1 MIT+150 Symposia (2011). Accessed 4/19/11 at

2 Center for Excellence in Assisted Living (2010). Person-Centered Care in Assisted Living: An Informational Guide. Accessed 4/20/11 at

3 Health Care Advisory Board. 2010. Health Care’s Accountability Moment: 15 Imperatives for Success under Risk-Based Reimbursement. Washington, DC: The Advisory Board Company.

4 Centers for Medicate & Medicaid Services (CMS). 2011. Special Open Door Forum: Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Proposed Rule Overview for Facilities, Providers, and Suppliers. Baltimore, MD