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Nurses Enhance Skills at Rehab Training Course


By Bernard S. Little

WRNMMC Command Communications

The Department of Rehabilitation at Walter Reed Bethesda hosted the Rehabilitation Nurse Training Course Oct. 5-6 at the medical center.
The bi-annual course originated in 2015 and includes class lectures and hands-on training focusing on: Skin integrity and wound management; functional mobility to improve post-op outcomes while keeping patients and staff safe; amputee care; building resiliency by managing stress; and neurogenic bowel and bladder management of patients. Additional training during the course covered: Acute rehabilitation; speech therapy and cognition assessment; discussing sexual health and intimacy with patients; care of total joint patients; traumatic brain injury; regaining functional independence through participation in activities of daily living; the role of a clinical research nurse; and protecting [the nurse] and the patient.
Janet Frazier, nurse educator in the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) with WRNMMC’s Department of Rehabilitation, organized the course. She explained it provided a good opportunity for nurses to meet with each other and gain knowledge from different services at WRNMMC. “Nurses that attend this course have an opportunity to learn more in caring for our special patient population by building on their competencies with a common goal of helping patients move towards healing and reaching their full potential,” she stated.
Additionally, there were four skills stations. One led by Sharon May, Clinical Wound Specialist for the Department of Surgery, explained and demonstrated the use of various wound coverings and bandages. May provides services to nearly every ward in the medical center, caring for patients from infants and wounded warriors to retirees. She also helps coordinate the annual Wound Treatment Associate Program at the medical center, providing additional training in wound care management for the WRNMMC staff.
Lauretta Walker, Supervisor and Katherine Kroh, of Inpatient Physical Therapy, led another skill station at the course. Together with students, they discussed and physically demonstrated using the proper techniques for patient transfers to prevent injury to patients as well as providers. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 38 percent of nurses nationwide report musculoskeletal injuries annually resulting from lifting patients, standing in awkward positions over patients, walking miles on hard floors or performing other physically demanding tasks.
At another skill station, Bart Vitelli, Amputee Clinical Nurse Specialist for [Ortho-Rehab] Services at WRNMMC, provided instructions in the care of amputee patients, demonstrating how to apply a compression dressing to the residual limb and other treatment techniques to combat phantom limb pain.   
Frazier discussed and demonstrated caring for patients with neurogenic bladder and bowel concerns.
According to Frazier, the rehabilitation nursing professional’s role encompasses many skills including promoting successful living, leadership, interprofessional care and nurse-led interventions. Some of the components of these skills include: Delivering client and family-centered care; implementing interventions based on best evidence; providing client and caregiver education; using support technology to improve outcomes; fostering effective interprofessional collaboration; implementing interprofessional holistic plans of care; developing interprofessional relationships; empowering beneficiaries and families to self-advocate; promoting accountability for care; disseminating rehabilitation nursing knowledge; impacting health policy for persons with disabilities and other chronic illnesses; promoting and facilitating safe and effective care transitions; fostering self-management; and promoting health while preventing disability, Frazier added.  “The extraordinary work we all do every day does not go unnoticed. Use what you learned here to help continue to take care of our patients, family caregivers, yourselves and most of all each other,” she stated to the class.