Evolution of Healthcare Innovation at UConn School of Nursing

2013 –

The introduction of innovation as a concept and a pathway in nursing began in the Fall of 2013 under the direction of Dr. Regina Cusson, PhD, NNP-BC, APRN, FAAN Professor Emeritus. At the inception, senior undergraduate nursing students were introduced to the concepts of healthcare innovation and change agents. These students identified a healthcare problem and presented their proposed solutions during the UConn SON Athena Scholarship Day in a Shark Tank style competition.


2014 –

The format mentioned above continued in 2014 and into 2015. Christine Meehan, MA, BS ’74, RN, was a guest lecturer. Meehan also funded the Shark Tank events during 2014 and 2015.  


2015 –

In the Fall of 2015, the educational exposure to innovation expanded to also include the third-year undergraduate students. During this time, Christine Meehan was appointed as Adjunct Faculty. Anna Bourgault, Assistant Clinical Professor, also joined the efforts to educate and expose the undergraduate nursing students.


2016 –

In 2016, Professors Meehan and Bourgault were awarded a Grant from the UConn Provost in the amount of $5000 to provide funding for healthcare innovation prototype development of student ideas.


2017 –

In the Fall of 2017, the format for immersing students changed to that of the current Healthcare Innovation Independent Study opportunity for undergraduate nursing students to participate in the development of proposed healthcare innovations.


The Healthcare Innovation Independent Study became possible by way of a VentureWell Grant for $30,000.


During this year UConn SON also received a $450,000 grant from the DeLuca Foundation to fund a designated faculty role as the DeLuca Foundation Visiting Professor for Innovations and New Knowledge.


2018 –  

On behalf of the DeLuca Foundation gift, Dr. Tiffany Kelley PhD MBA RN-BC was appointed as the first Visiting Professor for Innovation and New Knowledge in Nursing within the United States Dr. Kelley began her two-year visiting associate professorship in August 2018. During her tenure, she will focus on developing a strategic plan for integrating innovation theory, behaviors, skills and attitudes across degree programs and beyond within the School of Nursing.


2019 –

We continued to advance the mission of Dean Chyun’s strategic vision of Caring, Innovating and Advocating as a School of Nursing at UConn.


The UConn Board of Trustees gave final approval in summer 2019 to launch the Healthcare Innovation online graduate certificate program, which Dr. Kelley developed. The dynamic 12-credit (4-course) program is geared toward both medical professionals and non-medical professionals.

After opening applications in October 2019, two students enrolled in the full certificate program and six others – two nurse practitioner students and four health sciences students – enrolled in the first course: NUR 5111 Healthcare Innovation Theory and Application.


2020 –

The inaugural offering of the NUR 5111 Healthcare Innovation Theory and Application course ran from January to May 2020. The development of two more courses for the certificate program is now underway – NUR 5112: Healthcare Opportunities for System Level Solutions and NUR 5113: Developing and Leading a Sustainable Culture of Healthcare Innovations. The fourth and final course is a capstone project, in which students develop an innovation with mentored guidance.