In my STEM for Solar class near the beginning of the year, we read an article about empathy and design thinking. One segment of the article mentioned the rotation of nurse shifts in Kaiser Permanente and how they could improve those shifts in order to maximize the care for the patients. A study conducted beforehand demonstrated that the nurse would debrief the incoming staff on the status of the patients for 45 minutes, and that despite this debriefing, they would miss some of the most important aspects of the patients conditions. Wanting to rectify this problem, they developed a piece of computer software that enable the previous nurses to jot down notes about the patients throughout the shift, rather than debriefing the incoming nurses at the end of the shift. As a result, not only did their productivity increase, but the interconnectivity between nurses and patients increased.
I mention this article because understanding where the problem originates is the key to developing a solution. It’s easy to state that there is a problem that needs to be fixed. The true challenge is finding out what exactly causes the problem in the first place, and taking the steps to fix it.
This is why what we do in this class is crucial. With guest speakers and peer teaching, our understanding of the matters at hand increases, and we use this knowledge to develop potential solutions. Through the year-round projects, not only can we put our empathy to work, but we are able to gain a better understanding of the process of a large-scale project, which we can take into our lives in environmental work.