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A Conversation with CJ Rivera, UWSON's winner of QSNA 2023

What is it about nursing that continues to intrigue you, or keeps you learning and “on your toes?

Since I am a nursing student, I am still enjoying the breadth of experiences I’m getting across various specialties and populations in my clinicals. Novelty excites me, so the more I experience in nursing school, the more curious I become about health promotion and illness treatment for different communities. For myself, the key to sustaining a career in nursing will be seeking opportunities for new experiences. I am always eager to learn more so that I can become a more confident and knowledgeable nurse, which will ultimately benefit the trust and care I provide to my patients in the future.

How did you learn about the QSNA and what prompted you to apply?

I heard about the QSNA in 2021, when Michael Drake was announced as the UWSoN’s second winner. That was pretty soon after my grandma was diagnosed with dementia, so I was curious to see what the award encompassed and who could apply. Once I was admitted to UW, I was motivated to come up with an idea of my own after getting work experience as a nursing assistant and medication technician in the memory care unit of a local assisted living facility and taking care of my grandma. Through these experiences, I identified several gaps in the care provided to people with dementia, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2023 that I came up with my winning idea. As my grandma’s dementia progressed, she began to have behavioral disturbances that manifested in violence. One night, she escalated so much that we took her to the ER, and after months of inpatient care in geriatric psychiatry, she was discharged to an adult family home, which has been very disorienting for her. After this, I knew that there needed to be an intervention earlier in the system that would prevent people with dementia from ending up in the ER and in psychiatric units, where they would ultimately be removed from their family homes—this resulted in the creation of my idea, Mobile Dementia Care.

How do you think we can get more nurses excited to work with dementia care?

In the United States, dementia care nursing is seen as a difficult and unrewarding specialty due to the strenuous work conditions created by high ratios of nurses to clients and the lack of staffing, resources, and funding for most long-term care facilities. Working as a nurse in these settings can be taxing, and the wages are not as competitive as those of acute care settings, creating minimal incentives for the job. By creating more fulfilling roles for nurses in dementia care, we can expand the nursing scope to incorporate more flexibility and encourage creativity and innovation to enhance the interest and sustainability of a career in dementia nursing. By including opportunities for more recreational roles in dementia nursing, such as activity planning and more, we can show people that dementia care nursing can be more comprehensive and enriching for both nurses and the aging population.

Summarize your winning idea in a sentence and please let us know why you think this is important to share with the international nursing community?

Mobile Dementia Care is a smartphone app that allows caregivers to request a care response team of specialized healthcare professionals to arrive at their homes and aid in crisis response for people with dementia experiencing behavioral disturbances. This idea is important to share with the international nursing community because of its goal of keeping people with dementia outside of the hospital and maintaining their quality of life, which is a unified desire for nurses and virtually everyone across the globe.

Will you be bringing your winning idea further, i.e. to market or to development?

Right now, I am in the process of arranging a meeting with 2 members of the UW School of Nursing faculty who have experience with the intersection of healthcare and technology to gather feedback and guidance on my idea. Along with that, I am currently navigating the services provided by CoMotion UW, which provides its users tools with tools and connections to help their ideas come to life. My idea is quite ambitious and involves multidisciplinary collaboration, but I do believe in the ability of my idea to transform the trajectory of care for people with dementia and behavioral disturbance, so I would like to hope the idea could come to market someday.


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