Years ago, I had a coworker with the best attitude about learning new skills. At every in-service, sort of like Kenneth Parcell on 30 Rock, he would smile a toothy, freckled face grin, and say, “Hey, it’s one more skill to add to my résumé.”
In May 2010, I wrote Not All Days Are Magically Delicious, a post in which I describe my frustration while learning to apply a wound vac to a patient’s wound. In case you don’t feel like reading the post:
A wound vac is a small mechanical device in a fanny bag, worn by the patient 24/7. Black sponge is packed into the wound and covered with an adhesive, transparent film. A suction tube connects the dressing to a canister attached to the wound vac. When the wound vac is turned on, it sucks all the air out, compressing the sponge tightly into the wound. There is barely any sound as the machine “vacuums” the wound’s drainage into the canister. The suction stimulates healthy tissue, often reducing healing time dramatically. If an air leak is present, there is a loud sucking noise when the machine powers on, and the sponge will not compress. This means it needs more transparent covering to seal it. If that fails, the entire dressing comes off and redone, which is not very comfortable for the patient. (Excerpt from Not All Days Are Magically Delicious by JParadisiRN, May 2010)
For that post, I even made a little painting of a wound vac so you can see what I’m talking about:
Well, I’ve come a long way in two years. I am happy to report I have changed many more wound vac dressings since writing that post, and each time the machine starts up with the sponge fully compressed and without that awful sucking noise, the very first time. The trick is realizing that you can never apply too much drape (it’s like self-adhesive Saran Wrap). Doing so prevents those wicked little air leaks. I can now spot the problem areas before powering on the wound vac.
Whether you are a nursing student returning to school, or a seasoned nurse struggling with new technology, don’t give up. Keep at it. One day, that piece of equipment you struggle to manage will be another skill you can add to your résumé.