Calling All Nurse Innovators

Are you a nurse innovator? Do you have a cool new idea, but need time, money, and a mentor to make it happen? The Johnson and Johnson Nurses Innovate QuickFire Challenge might be just for you. Learn about the challenge and how to apply. Nurses Entrepreneurs Article Magazine

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  • Workforce Development Columnist
    Specializes in Workforce Development, Education, Advancement.
Calling All Nurse Innovators

Nurses are innovators. Whether they create something new or revise an established product, idea, or method - they're at the center of new ideas in healthcare each and every day. You might notice this about yourself or colleagues, but do others see it?

They do! In fact, Johnson & Johnson, the world's largest and most broadly based healthcare company, has recognized the vital role nurses play in the future of healthcare. They've launched past nursing campaigns, but on October 1st, J&J initiated a new challenge for nurse innovators in the US - the Johnson & Johnson Nurses Innovate QuickFire Challenge. J&J isn't alone in the mission to recognize and support nurses as innovators. Maria Menounos, the host of Conversations with Maria Menounos podcast and Host/CEO of AfterBuzz TV, has partnered with them for this exciting challenge.

While J&J is a leader of healthcare, Maria's career always kept her in the spotlight, until 2016 when she and her family began a journey that led to her both herself and her mother being diagnosed with brain tumors. In a recent interview, she described her healthcare journey, the importance of nursing, and why she wanted to help recognize nurses through this challenge.

Maria's Journey


In 2016, Maria's mother, Litsa, was diagnosed with stage IV brain cancer. Just eight short months later, Maria had an MRI and was told she had a brain tumor also. Her brain tumor was as a meningioma. While this type of tumor is benign, Maria found out that it had to be removed.

Both women underwent surgery to remove the tumors. As nurses, we know this means long recoveries, medications, intravenous fluids, and nurses. Maria said that during her illness, even though she understood the importance of nurses, she was able to see the integral role nurses have on health. She reminisced, "I've always been around nurses. My dad is a type 1 diabetic. But, when you're the patient, you're vulnerable, and it takes everything to a whole other level. I think that's the reason we use the phrase 'nurse back to health, that's what nurses do."

She shared how it was hard to leave her nurses at the hospital behind. She relied on them for help, care, and compassion.

Lessons Learned

Along with meeting nurses and overcoming a brain tumor, Maria learned valuable lessons about life and health. We talked about health and how it isn't just the absence of illness or disease.

"The physical healing was just one part of the process," she said. "I had to heal emotionally, mentally, and spiritually too. And, now, I live with much more intention. Life isn't about who liked your picture on Instagram or trying to be everything to everyone. We must be intentional and practice preventative health too. That's why nurses are so important, they are there for all of this."

Most people come in contact with nurses during times of illness, but they are there during health and prevention too. Nurses teach, offer support, and heal. So, it makes sense that these front-line warriors are inventors and creators also.

Importance of Nurse Innovators

Nurses have been improving the healthcare industry since Florence Nightingale. But, Florence certainly is not the only nurse innovator. Many of the protocols, equipment, and practices you use each day were created by nurses. Here are a just a few:

  • In 1968, Anita Dorr built a prototype of the modern day crash cart after watching precious minutes pass while equipment was gathered during a code.
  • In the 1950's, Sister Jean Ward discovered that sunlight decreased jaundice in newborns, which started the use of phototherapy.
  • In 1954, Danish nurse Elise Sorensen created the first ostomy bag for her younger sister who had colon cancer.

As Maria and I discussed a few of these nurse innovators, she added, "Nurses are resourceful and creative. They must think on their feet quickly to benefit their patients. We need others to see nurses for how important they are, which is why the J&J Nurses Innovate QuickFire Challenge is so important. This program is taking nurse innovations to the next level by giving nurses the time and resources they need to fully develop their ideas."

The Challenge

Johnson & Johnson believes that nurses have the power to profoundly change lives. And, they have the know-how to help innovators move forward with their ideas. J&J is looking for ideas that can impact patient care and human health. They will present one or more nurses with up to $100,000 in grants and access to mentoring and coaching from Johnson and Johnson Innovation, JLABS.

If you've got an idea that can improve the lives of your patients or the healthcare industry as a whole, here's what you need to know about this challenge:


A panel of reviewers and judges will evaluate all solutions on the following criteria:

  • Uniqueness of the idea
  • Potential impact on human health
  • Feasibility of the idea
  • Thoroughness of approach
  • Identification of key resources and plan to further idea

Areas of Interest

  • New Treatment Protocols
  • New Health Technologies
  • New medical device
  • New preventative approach
  • New consumer product
  • New community health approach

Are you ready to put your idea in front of some of the industry leaders in healthcare innovation? For more information about this challenge, visit the Quickfire Challenge page here. You can find the link to apply on that website too.

Best of luck and happy innovating!

Workforce Development Columnist

Melissa is a Quality Assurance Nurse, professor, writer, and business owner. She has been a nurse for over 20 years and enjoys combining her nursing knowledge and passion for the written word. You can see more of her work at or on her blog at

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