Nursing student Laura Pipkin has created the prototype for a smart phone app for nurses that could help save lives.
The app - designed to stop the spread of the serious MRSA virus - walks nurses through proper care protocols to keep patients and themselves safe. With a few clicks, nurses see checklists with guidelines ranging from how to screen patients for MRSA to how to document their test results and teach them self-care protocols before they are discharged.
The app, which is the first she's ever created, was her contribution to a group project that was a case study about MRSA. The strain of staph bacteria doesn't respond to some antibiotics and can spread quickly in clinical settings.
"There are lots of different protocols for MRSA, different paperwork and guidelines, so mistakes can be made," says Pipkin, 27.
The app even walks novices through correctly performing the nasal swab screening test step-by-step and how to post warnings for other healthcare professionals. It also - if used in a clinical setting - would integrate the information collected into the patient's electronic medical record.
"Our faculty, including Jesus Hernandez and Grace Buttriss, have always encouraged us to look at the new technology available to nurses, and that's what inspired me to try to be a creator instead of just a consumer," she says.
The Accelerated Bachelor's of Science in Nursing is a rigorous one-year program for students who have already earned a previous bachelor's degree in another field. Students study as a cohort, going through the intensive program together.
"We have a great group of 39 students in my cohort and we are all very ambitious, but at the same time we have become almost like a family," she says. "The intensity motivates us all to do well and encourage each other along the way."
Her previous bachelor's degree, from the University of South Carolina, was in advertising. But she didn't find that field rewarding. She was inspired to become a nurse because the profession runs in her family - both of her parents, two aunts and her grandmother are all nurses.
Her goal is to become an Intensive Care Unit nurse. "I'm already thinking ahead to graduation and going to job interviews," she says. "My hope is that the app will help me stand out."