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What Nurses Need to Know: the Love n’ Leary Podcast

Two seasoned nurses, Rebecca Love and Marion Leary share invaluable insights through their Love n’ Leary Podcast.

In 2016, over 200 nurses gathered together for a weekend-long summit to discuss healthcare problems and pitch their solutions. It was the first event of its kind, called a Nurse Hackathon.

Leading the event was e Rebecca Love, RN, MSN, FIEL, who was the Director of Nurse Innovation & Entrepreneurship in the United States at Northeastern School of Nursing at the time. Attending the event was Marion Leary, PhD, MPH, RN, now the Director of Innovation at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Nursing.

These two nurse innovators crossed paths, and nearly a decade later, they proudly co-host the Love n’ Leary podcast.

Starting the Podcast

“We had no plans of this turning into a podcast,” Love clarifies. “We did that first episode because I think a lot of people think Marion and I have something figured out.” They want to show that all nurses can use their platform to speak up for and about the profession if they choose.

The Love n’ Leary podcast covers a wide array of topics, but there are a few common threads that Love and Leary continue to share:

  1. Nurses need to innovate
  2. The media needs nurses
  3. Nurses don’t need to have imposter syndrome about innovating or making their voices heard in the media

Nurses Need to Innovate

The World Health Organization recognizes healthcare innovation as a “new or improved solution with the transformative ability to accelerate positive health impact.” Yet, the idea of innovation in nursing remained mostly unexplored until the 2010s. Now, we have Nurse Hackathons and innovation curricula in nursing schools, thanks to individuals like Love and Leary, who helped spearhead this movement.

“There are nurses who innovate every day at the bedside, but it’s not always something we’ve taught in a rigorous and methodical way in nursing school,” Leary says.

Love says college business classes encourage students to think in small groups and devise solutions to problems. Yet, nursing school seldom takes this approach. Policies and procedures grounded in evidence-based practice are a core tenant of nursing, but nurses are not typically taught how to innovate and take risks safely.

“I’m hoping that the profession is changing,” Leary says. Leary's work at Penn Nursing focuses on teaching nursing faculty, students, health system leaders, and clinicians to think about systematic solutions to problems they encounter in nursing.

One constant about healthcare: it constantly changes. Nurses can passively accept innovations imposed on them, or they can push to the forefront, creating new products and systems.

The Media Needs Nurses

The media needs nurses, and nurses need the media, too.

In fact, the newsroom and the nursing profession could have a very symbiotic relationship. The most trusted profession could offer its social capital in exchange for more thoughtful coverage of the nursing shortage, strikes, and the power nurses wield in healthcare.

“I think you see any health problem, pandemic, or environmental crisis, and physicians are constantly being talked with about what’s going on. They’re the go-to. Major news organizations have physician correspondence,” says Love. “Where are the nurses?”

The media chronically underuses nurses for several reasons:

  • Healthcare revenue systems. Health systems see physicians as revenue-generating and nurses as a cost that hits an organization’s bottom line. This sentiment might come into play when healthcare organizations consider which faces to put out into the media and how they attract patients.
  • Employment structure. Even though many physicians work as full-time employees for healthcare organizations, they are viewed somewhat as independent contractors, free to speak as they please. Nurses are seen as representatives of their hospital systems, so speaking out is seen as an institutional betrayal. Leary says, “Health systems oftentimes silence nurses, and so don't let them have a voice, especially in areas where they're the experts.”
  • Lack of media training. There are few media-trained nurses. Nurse entrepreneurs may have picked up the skill, but few organizations are investing in the media training of nurses. “I talk to nurses all the time who feel like they want to be more active and vocal, but I think some nurses don't know even where to begin,” Leary adds.

“It’s not only important that nurses get into the media as a strategy, but when nurses get involved, it starts the process of writing and documenting nursing history. If we’re absent from media, those stories get erased over time,” says Love.

Nurses Can Ditch Imposter Syndrome

Why is it so hard for a nurse to innovate, branch out, build a business, or speak out in the media?

Taking such a risk can feel very uncomfortable, Love says. “The first step in a journey is always just to get started. Your first post is going to get no likes or very few. Maybe just your closest loved ones. It’s like anything else in life, you have to put in the work.”

If you feel any urge to grow your nursing career in an unconventional way or be more outspoken about nursing issues that light your passion, don’t forget:

  • You are trusted
  • You are educated
  • Your career goals are valid and attainable
  • You are a professional
  • Your voice is worth being heard

Think about the well-known nurses and nurses in the media you choose to engage with. They’re probably not the ones playing it safe, Love says. So, it does feel risky, but risk can equal impact. Risks instigate change.

Final Thoughts

If Love and Leary look back on their podcast in a few years, what would have happened to convince them it was a success?

  • Nurses feel more confident in using their voices
  • Nurses are engaging in politics and civic engagement
  • Nurses feel comfortable speaking with the media

Check out the Love n’ Leary Podcast or watch the videos on YouTube.

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