The Northwestern Emergency Medicine Innovations (NEMI) Program is a resident-driven quality improvement project developed as a means to gather, fund, and support resident-developed solutions to perceived problems within the Emergency Department or Emergency Medicine Residency Program. This program has been achieved through collaboration amongst residents, program directors, and departmental administrators in an effort to foster innovative projects designed to implement practical change. The value of NEMI has been measured by the successful implementation of various projects, as well as, its effect on the culture of the residency program.
The main objective of NEMI is to help residents imagine, develop, and implement creative solutions and practical innovations to improve their occupational and educational experiences. This project maximizes not only the volume and frequency of project submissions, but also the likelihood of success. The goal is to create a supportive environment that engages residents and empowers them to make positive change; as a result, this continually improves the ED and residency program.
An annually recurring cycle of project submission/development encourages residents to regularly evaluate and submit their interesting ideas. Additionally, the program offers strong faculty mentorship based on a projects specific area of focus and guidance from idea generation to successful implementation. Along with this, NEMI is paired with the residency program to provide funding for high quality projects. Ultimately, NEMI offers future leaders in emergency medicine insight into the administrative aspects of systematic change and quality improvement (QI) initiatives.
The scope of the project is up to the resident, and may be as incremental or as radical as he or she feels necessary. The innovation may be anything: 1) a process improvement (such as streamlining hepatology/transplant admissions), 2) a physical improvement (i.e. clear anoscopes or line carts), or 3) an educational improvement (such as retooling journal club into Evidence-Based medication, or 4) whatever you desire. However, it is continually stressed that projects should be actionable, not theoretical. The main goal is to implement constructive change.
Each year, every resident is expected to submit a proposed project to be evaluated by the NEMI committee; however, this past year we implemented a new innovative aspect to the process: Shark Tank. Modeled after the NBC show, the first NEMI “Shark Tank” event was held on December 3rd, 2014. The event sought to take the program to new heights through innovative marketing/promotion and increasing department-wide excitement, resident motivation, and faculty involvement/insight. Ultimately, it was deemed to be a resounding success and was even recognized by Northwestern Medicine on the new NM blog!
Overall, the NEMI program has helped to foster an environment of resident-based innovations and QI projects that have led to valuable changes within our emergency department and residency program as a whole. Our goal is to continue a culture of innovative practices as we strive to expand the program through annual Shark Tank events and a revitalized NEMI-specific website.