Harnessing Your Creativity For Better Wound Care

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by Terri MacSkimming, RN, CWCA, AAPWCA

We all have hobbies outside of what we do for a living. At least, we all should have hobbies or interests outside of our careers. Our hobbies are our outlet for stress. I love to draw. I also enjoy painting. What I love most of all is acting and theater. I love being on stage, performing, and getting an emotional response from my audience. Everyone that knows me well knows how much I love acting on stage. Bringing a script to life exhilarates me. Just the thought of performing live, delivering memorized lines, and anticipating the reaction of my fellow actors stirs and motivates me. Most of all I crave the opportunity to use my improvising skills when a scene goes an unexpected direction.

A Career Calling in Wound Care

When I told my closest friends that I wanted to become a nurse, I was met with the following questions:
---"But, you're so creative; don't you want to do something that allows you to express your creativity?"
---"What about your art?"
---"Don't you want to do theater anymore?"

At first, these questions stirred discouragement in me. I hadn't yet asked myself these questions. The idea never occurred to me that being creative would not be integral to what I chose as a career. I wondered if I would be giving up part of who I was to have a career as a nurse. One thing I knew for sure, becoming a nurse was something I felt very deeply about pursuing. It did not take long for me to realize that all of my creativity, confidence, improvising skills, and problem solving would be crucial to my nursing practice and essential to caring for wounds.

I always knew in my heart that I was a caregiver and wound healing has fascinated me since my first skinned knee. Understanding that my natural creativity was an essential part of caring for wounds did not occur to me until later in life. I cared for my best friend, who happened to be my mother-in-law, after she was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.

Creative Caregiving: Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Many of the problems we faced during her illness took creative problem solving to overcome. The issue of how to get from the bed to the bathroom was solved with a bedside toilet. Her reddened heels were lifted off the bed with pillows. Getting in the car for appointments was made easier by tying a scarf to the passenger door frame and securing it with a rolled up window. I never tired of caring for her wounds, even with few supplies and even fewer resources of information.

I applied my creativity to find solutions to the daily problems. I began to anticipate and identify issues and come up with interventions before they became problems. I knew there were solutions to the problems we faced, I just wasn't thinking of them yet. Caring for my mother-in-law in the final months of her life made it clear to me that becoming a wound nurse would allow me to express my creativity.

"The whole idea behind creative problem solving is the assumption that you know something that will help solve this problem, but you're not thinking of it right now," -Art Markman PhD, cognitive psychologist and author of "Smart Thinking"

Wound care is what it is today because of the applied creativity of many health care professionals. I want to encourage you to express your creativity when you are caring for your patients. Care with all the creativity of your heart. Find solutions that make the problems your patients are facing seem small. Dance, act, entertain, and problem solve for your patients with an open heart and a creative spirit. Find new solutions, continue to share, inspire, and heal.

About the Author
Terri MacSkimming, RN, CWCA, AAPWCA is the Director of Wound Education at AmeriWound. Terri has extensive experience in long term care as a Wound Care Nurse and Program Manager. She is passionate about wound care education and has over nine years experience assessing, managing, and documenting wounds. Terri is also well versed in MDS 3.0. Her knowledge coupled with her skill as a public speaker, make her an effective wound care educator.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of WoundSource, Kestrel Health Information, Inc., its affiliates, or subsidiary companies.

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Nice post! I find that most wound care nurses are great at working with 3D images. Like sculptors, we can quickly cut dressings to the exact shapes needed to conform to our patients' wounds. Recently a friend who was dying of a sarcoma was admitted to the emergency department of a large cancer-specialty hospital. His wife and sister had been using non-adherent, odor-reducing polymeric membrane dressings to cover his rapidly growing highly vascular tumor, which protruded through the skin. During a bed transfer, the tumor was bumped; the life-threatening hemorrhage which followed was managed by the ED staff with direct pressure and gauze, which adhered to the tumor. After painstakingly soaking off the gauze, the ED nurses (not wound experts), admitted that they had no idea how to dress my friend's wound. They watched in amazement as the wife and sister cut sheets of polymeric membrane dressing material to form a custom-shaped nonadherent "hat" to completely envelop the tumor. "Are you nurses?" the astonished ED nurses asked. "No" they replied, "we are elementary school teachers!"

Whenever I am working with a nurse new to wound care, the first thing I tell them is we have be creative with our supplies to create the dressing we need both in shape and function. I couldn't agree with your comment more.

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