Improving Communication Through Tech: CBU Nursing Students Win First Place in the Country

Cape Breton University students are at the forefront of innovative problem solving and discovery. Bachelor of Science, Nursing students Kelsey Muller and Michaela Moore recently put these skills on display at the virtual Techstars Startup Weekend, earning first place in the country for their project.

Techstars Startup Weekend is a 54-hour event that brings together designers, developers, entrepreneurs and experts from various domains to bring amazing projects to life. Innovation Leads like Kelsey and Michaela pitch their project ideas, form teams and embark on a three-day frenzy to earn top marks from the judges. The weekend is based on developing solutions that tackle worldwide issues, and this year’s contest focused on creating software-based solutions to COVID-19 related challenges. 

Kelsey and Michaela developed their project “Rest Assured” which allows family members to maintain a sense of security and reassurance when faced with restrictions on communicating with hospitalized loved ones. While nurses recognize that communication with family members is important, it can be challenging to get to the phone to have that time with the family. Rest Assured provides family members with timely and relevant information about their loved ones. 

“Our project idea focuses on improving communication between nurses and family members regarding updates about their loved ones during COVID-19 and thereafter,” explain Kelsey and Michaela. “We came up with this idea after experiencing this problem from each end of the spectrum, both as nursing students and as family members of an admitted loved one.” After pitching the idea, Kelsey and Michaela began recruiting participants in different fields of expertise such as software techs, data analysts and business experts to join their team. They demonstrated strong leadership skills by delegating responsibilities and working collaboratively to create an official three-minute video to present to the judges. 

As Michaela explains, the weekend is designed to push participants to move quickly. “It’s all about starting with an idea, forming a team and making that idea come to life,” she says. After reviewing videos from 26 teams, the judges selected the top ten submissions, and Kelsey and Michaela advanced to the next stage. After a second round of presentations and questions, the CBU students were awarded first place in Canada for their creative and beneficial project idea. Along with workshops, website design, podcast appearances and more, the students were also awarded a fellowship with Founder Institute Canada, tickets to the Collison From Home conference founded by Seth Rogan, tickets to the 2021 Traction Conference and tickets to the Startup Grind Global Conference in Silicon Valley. 

“In total there were approximately 450 participants across the country, so the feeling of winning was so surreal,” says Kelsey. “It was such an accomplishment and the experience really opened my eyes to how much goes into building a business idea.” Though they certainly felt the pressure of the 54-hour time frame and participating in a competition of this nature for the first time, Michaela says the only way to learn is by trying new things. 

The students say their win wouldn’t have been possible without the support of their mentors, Corrinne MacIsaac and Darren MacDonald who encouraged them to participate in the competition. Experiential learning opportunities such as this allow CBU students to gain exposure to various fields in an effort to obtain a holistic learning experience. “This side of nursing is so important as it holds the future of healthcare and allows for creativity, change and improvement within the field,” says Kelsey. “There are so many ways to continue improving our healthcare system and being able to experience the business side of things was so beneficial to us.” “The field of nursing is so broad and it is important to experience as many things as you can,” adds Michaela. “Learning stems from experience and it’s often the most valuable thing you can bring to the table. We met so many great people throughout this process and it was a great opportunity to inspire and be inspired!”

Kelsey and Michaela are both senior Nursing students at CBU, eligible to obtain their Registered Nursing Licenses in August of this year. We are confident that they will continue to make a difference in the field of nursing and beyond, and we are so proud of their major accomplishment at Techstars Startup Weekend.

Learn more about CBU’s BScN Program