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Combining nursing with entrepreneurship

Posted on March 31, 2015 by 40 Mile Commentator

By Carlie Connolly
Third year nursing student at Medicine Hat College, Shelby LeBel has been busy with her new product, something she has combined with her passion for nursing.
As a kid, LeBel had a lot of injuries, spending some quite a bit of time in the hospital. With most people not enjoying their hospital experience, she was intrigued by what the doctors and nurses were up to, sparking her interest for doing something in healthcare.
Taking part in the mandatory nursing simulations, (having a safe environment, running through scenarios of what could happen in a hospital) LeBel came across the medical condition of Ascites. This is a symptom that presents itself with liver or heart failure. It’s when your stomach fills up with fluid- they call it a fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity. It’s prominent fluid accumulation in the stomach.
“I’ve definitely had simulation patients with heart failure and that would have been a great accessory to add onto the scenario,” she said.
She heard that people create accessories for simulation manikins because they are all the exact same, so when the teacher gives them the scenario, the dummy isn’t specific to the scenario. If she had a patient with heart failure or liver failure, she could then put the Ascites on top of the abdomen of the manikin to make it look more realistic.
Once her product is on the abdomen of the manakin, it allows one to see what Ascites looks like before entering the real setting. If one were to come across a person in the hospital, they will then be able to understand what it is, as they’ve seen it in the simulation lab.
She has gotten her product manufactured in the United States, but has so far only tested it out in simulations. It is listed on her website
LeBel has not only been doing nursing, but she has been taking part in the entrepreneurship side of things in reaching out to people, trying to market her product to get it out there.
Her product can also be found on Pocket Nurse, which is a medical simulation company where they also have her product for sale.
Others in the class also developed accessories for the manikins, but LeBel went a step forward, marketing her product to others in the community.
“ I think there’s lots of opportunity out there for nursing and entrepreneurship to intervene,” she said.
She’s always wanted to do her own thing and be her own boss, and so she did her research and found her manufacturer through contacts in the business wing at the college. She later came into contact with someone through Alberta Innovates, who funded her and allowed her to see that there was nothing out there like this on the market. She was also was in contact with Jon Sookocheff, who works with the Medicine Hat College summer company program. As she is part of the program, they funded her for some money for the summer to get her business up and running, giving her $10,000.

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