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On Call: Leadership in Nursing

MacGyver Nurses Among Us

Published November 17, 2016 10:30 AM by Martie Moore

I cannot remember the first time I heard the term "MacGyver Nurse."  For those of you that do not remember watching MacGyver, the show is back. The main character could settle any crisis, it seemed, from world war, invasions of aliens, or out-of-control spaceships with duct tape, his Swiss pocket knife, and gum. 

Okay, I might be stretching it a little, but it always amazed me how he could use his resources to fly through each situation thrown his way by innovating and working around what most would consider unconventional actions. 

My own most memorable MacGyver moment came during a code. The patient was bleeding out from an esophageal varice. I cracked the code cart and found one IV start kit. Someone forgot to restock. I had to get volume in him fast, so catching my breath, I went for the stick. Good karma over me, I got in and started the IV. It was me and one other personhe kept the airway open. If you have ever dealt with esophageal varices, there is a lot of blood and keeping the airway open takes tremendous effort. I was on my own. I hung the IV bag as high as I could get it. Then I took tape and wrapped, wrapped, wrapped the bag as tight as I could get the tape around it. I made a pressure bag before we had them on code carts. 

Florence Nightingale was the "MacGyver Nurse" role model. She used glass milk bottles to collect urine to promote a more hygienic environmentthe root of today's male urinal design. She developed a process to sanitize the gauze that was being reused on wounds of the soldiers. Florence consistently innovated. She also designed and redesigned her workflow, environment, and products used to practice nursing. 

We have MacGyver Nurses in care settings across America every day, figuring out how to care for someone in need of help. Florence made sure that within the DNA of nursing was a quest to do it better. Incredibly brilliant nurses are carrying her legacy forward each day.  

Florence did one other thingshe wrote out her ideas and designed her innovations. Today's complex and fast-paced healthcare world could definitely benefit from a dose of Florence. As part of Medline's commitment to helping healthcare providers perform at their very best, we are always looking for new ways to deliver care more effectively and efficiently. So, if you're a MacGyver Nurse who'd like to submit a new idea or invention, we'd love to hear from you. Learn more at

What's your "MacGyver Nurse" moment and how did it help improve care?


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