The Womack Army Medical Center Department of Medicine hosted a Skills Fair, Feb. 16, to help nurses refresh their skills and validate their competency in a number of areas as part of an annual training requirement.
“Everything that a nurse is responsible for knowing is not necessarily something that they do every day,” said Kathleen Feeley-Lynch, chief nursing officer in charge, Internal Medicine. “Even though they know how to do a blood transfusion, it’s not something that they do all the time, so it’s important to have refresher training so they know exactly what they’re doing should the need arise.”
Some of the skills refreshed during the training were: Pain assessment, signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction, implantable port access, wound care, patient consent forms, suture removal, pulmonology cross-training and other critical tasks.
Capt. Deena Willis from Womack’s pathology department participated in the skills fair, helping train the nurses on how to properly fill out labels on specimens turned in to the lab.
“It seems like something really simple, but making sure that the labels are correct and affixed properly is extremely important,” said Willis. “If a label is illegible or not properly attached, it could result in having to call in a patient to re-do their lab work and that puts additional stress on the patient and causes further delay in getting the results back.”
The Joint Commission room was one of the more difficult challenges the nurses faced. An underage mannequin posing as a patient was left alone with numerous hazards in the room, from mislabeled lab work to expired medications, to broken sinks and dispensers preventing staff from being able to wash or sanitize their hands.
The nurses had to go in and attempt to find and annotate all the infection control and safety issues in the room.
Capt. Eric Teemer, a clinical nurse in the Internal Medicine clinic, designed the room based on his experience working both on a ward and in a clinic.
“While hopefully a nurse would never walk into a room with this many problems, it’s important to be aware of the potential issues that may exist,” said Teemer. “Nurses should know what’s right and what’s wrong. They should be able to come in and immediately see that something is wrong and take the steps to fix it.”
Nurses left the annual event with their knowledge and skills validated and armed with beneficial information that will help them better provide quality care for every patient they encounter.