JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —
Nurses at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston have a unique mission and require specialized training.
The nurses who work at the Burn Intensive Care Unit, or BICU, the Department of Defense’s sole burn center, care for patients with the highest acuity level in the DOD. To help ensure all nurses at the BICU provide consistent and uniform wound care within established standards, they attend annual skills validation sessions as well as quarterly staff development days.
“Staff development day is necessary to disseminate new and updated information to the staff and ensure we are all providing the best, evidence based care that we can to our patient population,” said Alexandra “Alex” Helms, BICU preceptor coordinator. “Not only do the nurses receive specialized training in small groups, but they are also given a day to relax away from the stressful environment of bedside care and have a little fun, and are given the opportunity to ask questions in a safe environment with their peers.”
During the most recent staff development day, Sept. 14, the BICU staff participated in a competition dubbed “Dressing Wars.” The staff was divided into teams to perform specific simulated wound care techniques on a staff member from their group.
“The dressing was then judged based on sterile technique, use of resources and time management, aesthetics, functionality and accuracy of dressing compared to orders,” said Brent Sabatino, assistant civilian nurse officer in charge of the Outpatient Burn Clinic.
The judges for this activity included a wound care expert, critical care physician, rehab therapist, BICU officer in charge and wound care clinical nursing specialist.
“The ability of the dressings to stay on during physical therapy range of motion exercises as well as walking were all part of the ‘functionality’ judging,” Sabatino added. “This judging was done by the rehab unit staff.”
“Staff development day was developed as an eight-hour training day away from the bedside to complete team building and morale boosting activities while also disseminating new or updated information on unit happenings,” Helms said. “The teams were strategically built to merge night shift, day shift, brand-new employees versus well-seasoned employees, military, civilian, contract, licensed vocational nurses and registered nurses.”
“This was a fun way of making a skills training seem like a competition amongst peers but with feedback given to the group, not aimed at specific staff members,” Sabatino said.
Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Peters, BICU noncommissioned officer in charge, agreed that staff development days promote team building and unit cohesion between the leadership and the staff.
“It is a chance to break down barriers and get to know each other in a different setting away from patient care,” Peters said. “We utilize this time to come together as an entire team and reinforce our mission statement and unit goals, so we all stay focused in the same direction.”
“Overall, the staff really seemed to enjoy staff development day and we received a lot of feedback for future session suggestions and ways to improve,” Helms added.