Posted on Apr 30, 2019

V-CARE Nursing Student Named Daveler Fellow in Pitch Contest

V-CARE Nursing Student Named Daveler Fellow in Pitch Contest

A University of South Florida College of Nursing student was among the finalists in the annual USF Daveler Pitch Competition, a contest that invites students to submit entrepreneurial ideas that could become potential products.

Marianna O’Brien, a nursing student in the college’s V-CARE program, was named one of 19 fellows in the competition held on April 6 at the Muma College of Business.

O’Brien’s proposal is to create a more realistic simulation arm that would be an improved venipuncture and intravenous administration training tool.

Her idea is to build a simulation arm using a self-healing 3D-printed rubber overlay that would mimic human skin. That would allow nursing students to practice drawing blood and inserting IVs on a manikin arm that feels similar to the real thing.

O’Brien was invited to pitch her product idea in a five-minute presentation. The competition is administered by the USF Center for Entrepreneurship and was first launched in 2016, with the financial support of Frank and Ellen Daveler.

The 2019 competition drew a total of 79 applicants from 21 different Florida universities. The finalists represented 13 colleges from all over the state, ranging from Pensacola to Miami. Each fellow, or finalist, received $3,000. Five scholars were selected among the 19 fellows and received an additional $5,000.

While O’Brien wasn’t selected as a scholar, she is still happy to be have been named a fellow and given the chance to pitch her idea.

“It’s still an honor to be a fellow,” she said. “To be chosen out of 79 applicants statewide is still a really big deal.”

O’Brien said she came up with the idea after seeing first-hand the need for a more realistic training tool.

For the past six years, she has served as a medic in the U.S. Air Force and has taught her troops how to draw blood and insert IVs. But the manikin arms used in the classrooms are made out of hard, solid plastic with rubber tubing running through the arms and simulating veins. She’s betting that improving the realism will translate into better-trained nursing students.

“My goal is to get people comfortable with the simulation arm to the point where they really feel comfortable [drawing blood from] a patient, because it’s such a similar experience,” she said.

 O’Brien said she plans to use the money toward building a product prototype.

Story by Elizabeth L. Brown, USF College of Nursing