Many times, we face situations that are new to us. In wound care, it may be new treatments or new procedures that seem reasonable, but if a clinician has not used or employed these new options, they may feel that these would only be for wound care clinicians in academic centers or those involved in research. Although there are certainly procedures and techniques that may be beyond our expertise and training, many are well within our abilities and would benefit our patients if only we would try them.
I heard an interesting story that relates to this. A gentleman from the United States was touring India. One of the adventures he had was to see the countryside from the back of an elephant. While on the trip, the group stopped for rest and dismounted from the elephants. The guide drove a metal spike into the ground in front of each of the elephants. The spike was only about 12 inches deep in the ground. The guide then tied the rope that was around the elephant’s neck to the metal spike so the elephant would not wander off. The gentleman was fascinated by this thinking—that each of the very large animals could easily lift his head, pull the spike out of the ground, and walk away. He asked the guide about this. The guide told the gentleman that he was exactly correct; the elephant could easily pull the spike out of the ground and be free, but the elephant did not know that. The guide related that when the elephant was a baby, he was secured in the same way—with a rope around the neck tied to a metal spike in the ground. As a baby, the elephant would pull on the rope but was not strong enough to pull himself free. While the elephant grew, he was left with the memory that he could not pull the spike out of the ground. Due to this, the elephant was restrained not by the rope and spike but by old experiences and memories.*
Today, many seem to be restrained by our memories and experiences and not reality. What we might consider as limitations are only a lack of confidence in our abilities or a lack of courage to move forward. How many times would we accomplish more of our goals if we just forged ahead? I agree that it is easier to stick with the “tried and true” that we have been doing for years. However, if we continue to have that attitude, we shall miss out on many new experiences and, in wound care, miss being able to provide better care for our patients. Why do you think wet-to-dry dressings are still the choice of the majority of health care providers? The answer seems to be: “it is what we have done for years and it seems to work.” I had a physician tell me that wet-to-dry dressings had been healing his patients for 30 years, and he saw no reason to change now. I asked him if he was still driving the same car he had 30 years ago? I also asked if he had a cell phone? He suddenly realized my point.
The other answer is that many are either unwilling or afraid to learn that what they are doing is not good, proper care and that there may be better ways of doing things. To me, that is sad, because we are supposed to be doing the best for our patients. That entails continually studying and learning about the advances that are occurring in our field. Admittedly, we do not have to adopt each new thing that comes along, but we should be acquainted with new technology and when it might be useful.
I encourage everyone to lift your head and be willing to look for the opportunities around us each day. Do not limit your possible successes by old memories and experiences.