Tennessee Tech Nursing professor Melissa Geist has received the Alumni Award for Innovation in Health Care by Vanderbilt.
Geist said she’s proud of creating a course that brings the medical and engineering worlds together. She said this course has taken students to Cuba where they’ve come back with real ideas to improve the lives of patients and medical professionals.
“They designed a glove to help senior citizens and others maintain their grip strength,” Geist said. “It really just runs the gamut, every semester Dr. Sanders and I think they’re just not going to be able to come up with anything new and we’ve reached the limit.”
Geist said her students have developed prototypes and started their own businesses. She said her course called Clinical Immersion for Health Care Innovation.
“Everything from a manifold type device to help organize IV tubing for patients who are in a critical care setting, where they might have 15 different IVs running at the same time, and so those tubes can get tangled,” Geist said. “We’ve had teams who have redesigned the bedside table.”
Geist said her biggest accomplishment is fostering a creative and entrepreneurial mindset in students. She said people who have already become nurses see that they could innovate health care, as well.
“Our impact has been not just on nursing students who take the class, but the staff nurses,” Geist said. “Who start to see, ‘well shoot, I could be designing that,’ and that they know that they have partners over at Tennessee Tech who could help them bring what they’re doing to fruition.”
Geist is a board-certified family and pediatric nurse practitioner. Geist’s work has brought her to Cuba and Belize, where she and students have worked to develop medical and environmental assistance.