Real people are not made of rubber

The semester is winding down here at the School of Nursing and before I head home for Thanksgiving I thought I would reflect on something I have learned during my first clinical experience. Practicing skills in P&A lab and performing them on a patient are two completely different things.

When we learned how to do dressing changes in lab it was challenging; we had to be careful not to cross the sterile field and to make sure to do all the steps in order. However, when I watched as a Nurse did a wound vac change in clinical it was drastically different.

I watched as the Nurse performing the procedure gathered her supplies and set up her sterile field just as I had learned. The next part however was another story. As the nurse began pulling the old foam dressing out of the patients wound it was sticking to her flesh. With each pull the patient would scream in pain and cower against the side rail.

I had never seen a wound so deep before, I couldn’t imagine having so much of the inside of my body exposed to the air. The procedure took around half an hour to complete. I stayed near the patient’s head, offering reassuring and soothing words which I can only hope comforted her even a little. I am very appreciative to have gotten to witness the procedure but at the same time felt terribly for the patient who has to go through this every other day.

If anything, this experience reinforced the importance of sterility. A small alteration in asepsis could have prevented this infection from creating such a massive wound and kept this patient from going through such a painful ordeal.