The season for educational pursuits is here! For the next few months we shall all be immersed in educational programs to teach us more about taking care of patients with wounds. SAWC Spring in Atlanta, GA, is rapidly approaching, as are numerous local and regional wound care meetings. With all this good information floating around, I hope you will take advantage of at least some of the offerings. It is very important to continue learning. Author Tom Clancy said, “Life is about learning; when you stop learning, you die.” That pretty much covers the subject of continuing education.
Since you are still reading, you must be alive and interested in learning. I know when you are at a meeting and hear a great lecture, you assure yourself that you will incorporate everything you heard into your treatment of patients. Later, you begin to think about what was said, and decide that there is no way to incorporate those ideas into your practice. Why not? Maybe you don’t have the equipment or expertise to do exactly what was said, but maybe you can incorporate at least the basics into your practice. It requires thinking and innovation. Those are two concepts that are being lost in today’s world.
Thinking requires that one get away from the hustle and bustle and distractions of daily life, and let your mind roam freely from one topic to another. You will be amazed how often a startling, innovative thought will come to the forefront. Unfortunately, getting time to oneself may be difficult. Harper Lee, the famous author, once confessed, “I do much of my creative thinking while golfing. If people know you are working at home, they think nothing of walking in for a coffee. But they wouldn’t dream of interrupting you on the golf course.” I wonder if we could convince our employers of the benefit of heading to the golf course?
Unfortunately, getting away from it all is not something easily done. Everyone is always plugged into a cell phone, music, video game, or the like, so there is virtually no time during any waking period that one’s entire attention can be devoted to thinking. I fear this will result in the next generation being unable to develop original and innovative thoughts and ideas, which does not bode well for future innovations in any field, especially wound care.
To innovate means to introduce something new; to make changes; to alter.1 If one never has an original idea or never thinks about how something could be improved, there will be no innovation. Something new or altered cannot be introduced if there is nothing new or altered in the first place. Innovation will be required in order for the wound care field to move forward and improve care.
Thinking allows us to identify problems we face. Once we identify a problem, we must get in a quiet corner, think of all the issues surrounding it, consider all we know about it, and use some imagination to come up with a possible solution. Yes, I said imagination. With this kind of thinking, one may come up with some extreme and funny solutions. I know I certainly have. Continue refining your thoughts and ideas. You might wind up with a great, new innovative way to solve a problem. Think of all the ideas that have come from someone simply saying or thinking, “I wish I had ___to treat this wound,” or “This wound would do much better if this bandage did ___.” Figure out how to fill in the blanks. That is how innovation in wound care will happen.
Let me assure you that everyone that has ever taken care of a patient with a wound has the potential to come up with an innovative idea that could alter something we already do or result in something new being introduced. Good ideas are not the sole property of the academics. As you listen and learn this year, practice your thinking, not just in a brief way, but also in the appropriate environment and in the appropriate frame of mind. You never know when you might have a good idea that could help all of us.
“Set aside a few minutes every day just to think. Even better, a half-hour.”
~Edward Hallowell, behavioral researcher, Harvard Medical School
1. Urdang L, Stuart Berg Flexner SB, eds. The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, College Edition. New York, NY: Random House; 1968:687.