Nurturing innovation: my journey in the 2023 American Nurses Association Innovation Accelerator

Kerry Quealy Son, MSN, FNP-BC,
Kerry Quealy Son, MSN, FNP-BC,
Clinical Solutions Manager
October 5, 2023

The American Nurses Association (ANA) is a national professional organization that aims to advance and protect the profession of nursing. As I prepare for my final meeting representing Radial in the 2023 ANA Innovation Accelerator, I wanted to reflect on my experience over the past nine months. I was delighted when ANA awarded me a spot in this high-profile national accelerator back in Fall 2022, in recognition of my work as a nurse leader here at Radial. I was tremendously excited about the opportunity to learn from and network with forward-thinking nurses from across the nation, all united in our quest to explore innovative ideas and drive meaningful clinical impact. In this post, I’d like to share some thoughts on my journey to date.

What is the ANA Innovation Accelerator?

Every year, the ANA runs a highly competitive process to select a cohort of nurses passionate about applied innovation. The nine-month accelerator is designed to provide a supportive environment to nurture the broadest possible range of ideas - from the very earliest initial concepts to proven clinically deployed interventions that are ready to scale. The Accelerator meets monthly from February to October, with additional asynchronous work outside these meetings. Each month delves into a different innovation-related theme, complemented by corresponding coursework. These themes cover a wide spectrum, ensuring exposure to many innovation topics and methodologies. The ANA Innovation Accelerator is the first and only accelerator program that is specific to nurses.

How is it structured?

Typically, the cohort explores a theme through a lecture and discussion, led either by an ANA facilitator or a guest speaker. We've been fortunate to hear from nurses who are clinical innovation trailblazers, whether through product or business development, leadership in Quality Initiatives, or driving “intrapreneurship” within large, complex organizations. The conclusion for each class often involves breakout groups, which have been one of the most enjoyable aspects for me. The ANA facilitator divides the cohort into smaller groups based on our interests and expertise. This open-ended time allows for networking, discussion, and brainstorming. Through this, I've had the privilege to meet inspiring nurses and nurse leaders, many of whom I intend to stay connected with.

What is the target outcome?

The Accelerator culminates in a "pitch event," where each participant will have the opportunity to present their innovation to the larger group. This offers a low-pressure setting to showcase ideas and receive honest, constructive feedback - not only from peers but also from leaders in the nursing innovation community. Multiple past winners of the national ANA Innovation Awards have come up through the accelerator - the pitch event is a great opportunity to fine-tune a potential future Innovation Award application. 

My key takeaways

It’s always been clear to me that nurses are natural innovators, inventors, and forward-thinking visionaries. Thanks to the ANA Innovation Accelerator, I’ve benefited from a dedicated space for nurses to come together, learn, and share ideas. The experience has been instrumental in my personal growth, and I’ve already had the opportunity to bring back many new skills to my team as we continue to advance our innovation mission here at Radial.

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