Student Innovators

Jennifer A. Turner
April 17, 2024
MUSC CON student innovators
From left: Lauren Figura and Erin Grimsley

Student innovators Lauren Figura and Erin Grimsley presented as finalists of the Student Pitch Competition during MUSC’s annual Innovation Week. As Accelerated BSN students, they each envisioned creative, memorable ideas to help fellow nursing students learn rigorous course material. We can’t wait to see these ideas take flight!

Lauren Figura | “Pharm Phriends” flashcards

Innovative idea and goals:
My healthcare solution that I will be presenting at Innovation Week is “Pharm Phriends”! First semester of nursing school, in our pharmacology class, I started to struggle with remembering every aspect of each drug that we were tested on. As a visual learner, I began to draw characters that represented each drug, using different traits and details to represent how they work in the body, their therapeutic use, adverse effects, as well as important nursing considerations. I shared my creations with classmates and began to realize that my idea could truly help others to not only memorize the drugs but also grasp a better understanding of them for future use. I hope to turn my characters into drug flashcards and share them with other students across the country.

What inspired you to enter the Innovation competition?
My professor, Dr. Amy Smith. After sharing my idea with her, she encouraged me to take it seriously and create a production and distribution plan. I am so thankful for her support and am beyond excited to be able to turn this into a physical product one day.

As a student and future nurse, what does innovation mean to you?
Growing up, I was always a very creative learner. I had a passion for art and creation; however I ultimately loved science more when I got to high school. However, I continued to use art as an outlet in my free time. Being able to express this years later in nursing school is something that I never would have expected. Innovation, in the sense of “Pharm Phriends” ultimately means that I will be able to help other students. Nursing school is challenging to say the least, and to be able to share my ideas with others with this intention would mean everything to me!

Erin Grimsley | “Synapshot – See It to Retrieve It”

Innovative idea and goals:
Medication mistakes are recognized as the top contributor to nursing errors. The literature reflects that pharmacology errors by nurses are often due to a knowledge deficit or due to lack of knowledge maintenance. Here at MUSC we are extremely well-equipped in our pharmacology courses. However, as I was studying for my first semester, cumulative Pathopharmacology exam, I recognized that there were certain drugs that I was having difficulty remembering. Namely, the drugs from the beginning of the semester when I was using the flashcard method to memorize them. I was also having difficulty differentiating drugs that were similar or in the same class. Therefore, I knew I needed some type of visual to anchor each drug in my mind. I began to make graphics using images and loose word associations to help me recall each one. My goal was to create stories and pictures that I could retain. It is essential that these drugs are stored in long-term memory and that they are retrievable. These graphics are tailored to MUSC's pathopharmacology courses. Therefore, my hope is that if these graphics can help future students retain these drugs, then it will also increase their confidence, and hopefully, thereby, minimize medication errors in their future practice.  

What inspired you to enter the Innovation competition?
One of our awesome nursing professors saw some of the graphics I had created and encouraged me to enter the competition. When I began thinking about the potential of this project, and how it could help future students, I was motivated to see where this could lead. I believe that caring and competency go hand-in-hand when it comes to nursing. In other words, caring nurses seek to be competent. We are all working toward that goal, and if these graphics can help current and future nursing students learn and maintain the knowledge that they have been equipped with to be competent, then I want to share them. I am so humbled and honored to be a part of this Innovation Week student pitch.

As a student and future nurse, what does innovation mean to you?
Innovation, to me, means adapting through creative problem-solving. Being a nurse means working with different people, who respond to interventions in their own unique ways, in an ever-changing environment. Every day nurses are faced with challenges that require creative solutions. In essence, these solutions are the art of nursing science. Therefore, I believe that innovation relies heavily on five components: excellent observation skills to identify problems, investigative skills to find the root of that issue, problem solving-skills to find a solution, and creativity to implement it with the resources on hand. But with all of that said, the last, and perhaps the biggest key to innovation, is the follow-through. Many people can and will say, “well, I could have thought of that, or I could have done that,” but they didn't. Innovation is an action-oriented process. The beauty of nursing is that there is always an abundance of opportunities to innovate in an effort to improve patient care and patient outcomes, and that excites me.

A special thanks to MUSC College of Nursing faculty members Dr. Amy Smith and Dr. Dawn Terzulli for their mentorship and encouragement for student innovation.