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Getting the SKINny
Current events and issues of relevance to WOC Nurse practice, updates on new website features and links to external sources of interest to WOC nurses.
Wednesday, May 06, 2015
In recognition of the impact ethical nursing practice has on patient outcomes and the quality of care, 2015 is designated as the "Year of Ethics."  Keeping with this focus, the theme for National Nurses Week (May 6-12, 2015) is "Ethical Practice. Quality Care."
*  All nurses have a critical responsibility to uphold the highest level of quality and ethical standards in their practice to ensure the delivery of superior health care to patients, families and society.
*  Ethics is an essential component of everyday nursing practice across all specialties and settings and is inextricably linked to quality care.
* The revised Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements ensures that it is applicable to modern clinical practice and advances in quality, keeping pace with transformations in health care..  This Code serves as a guide for carrying out nursing responsibilities in a manner consistent with quality nursing care and ethical obligations of the profession.
Nurses are recognized by the public for upholding high ethical standards and are highly trusted as a result.  An annual Gallop survey shows the public has ranked the nursing as the top profession for honesthy and ethical standards for 13 straight years.
Nurses are incorporating ways to measure the value of their services into national performance measurement programs.  Nurses are using that data in order to develop strategies to improve health care quality.  Nursing staffing has been demonstrated to be a critical component of quality care.
WOC nurses are nurses first, and specialty nurses second.  In that realm, we use the Code of Ethics as the basis for our specialty nursing practice.  I close this by thanking you for being a part of the nrsing profession.  As a professional, remember to be aware of your professional standards, know the law and rules that govern your licensure, take an active role in your professional organizations and become involved in the legislative process.  My salute to all my nursing colleagues during our special week.

Monday, April 13, 2015
Attending a National Conference seems to get more challenging each year, as many employers have drastically reduced education and travel budgets.  Clinicians can no longer count on the financial support of their employers.  And inidviduals bearing the bulk of conference costs have to balance multiple uses for their disposable income.  Given these challenges, it is still important for all nurses, and particularly specialty nurses, to attend a national conference on an annual or biannual basis. 
When it comes to improving your own professional advancement, nothing compares to attendance at a National Conference.  Continuing education is increasingly available in journals and numerous web-based activities.  But conferences are really the best way to hear about the most recent advancements in the specialty practice.  Poster abstracts at a National Confence can present data too new to be available in print.  In comparison, journal articles may be based on research data that is many months or even several years old, given the review process for journal publication. 
National Conferences also provide invaluable networking opportunities.  A clinician is able to find a new mentor or clinical resource, to meet new friends and reconnect with old friends, to learn about a current practice innovation occurring at another facility or agency, and get exposure to a wide and diverse variety of product vendors.  None of these opportunities can be realized in a 'one-stop' approach like the experience of a National Conference.
And lastly, it is a wonderful way to recharge your personal battery.  Health care today is stressful and demanding in all practice settings.  It is easy to get get bogged down and to lose perspective.  Stepping away from the daily grind and engaging with other professionals in a stimulating environment might be just the boost you need to help you face the day-to-day challenges of our complex patients.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015
Recently, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM toughened the maintenance of certification requirements for physicians who are Board certified in Internal Medicine, causing a storm of controversy in the medical community, questioning whether a recertification exam is really a reliable gauge of physician knowledge, judgment, skills and familiarity with new standards.  The debate being aired out in that professional community should cause all of us to pause and ponder some of the same questions and processes in our specialty.
The idea of specialty certification for physicians, as well as nurses dates back many years as a way to protect the public and ensure that specialists do, in fact, have the appropriate knowledge, skills and training.  The idea of certification was originally conceived as a one time event, similar to licensure examination.  But as the pace of healthcare advancement and science changed so rapidly, specialty boards began to question whether a single test was the best way to ensure competency.  More frequent activities were deemed to be necessary to communicate to the public that professionals were keeping pace with advancements in their practice.  Our specialty nursing certification requires a 5 year recertification which is much more stringent that the 10 year recertification now required by the ABIM.  They are also 'grandfathering' older fellows completing training prior to 1990, an option not available in our nursing specialty certification. 
Yes, it is true that many healthcare professionals are dedicated to keeping up with advancements in their specialty practice.  There are many who would be meeting the equivalent of recertification requirements in their regular job duties.  There are a variety of ways to keep pace with advancements.  It is even easier to access information today in this digital world.  But we also must admit that there are those among us who would never seek out educational opportunities if they were not required to do so.  People who display specialty credentials, but whose practices clearly have not kept pace with scientific advances, give all of us a black eye.
Obtaining continuing education in one's specialty may be a vehicle to gain knowledge, but acquisition of knowlege alone is not a measure of one's competence.  The certification/recertification process is an attempt to measure judgment based on knowledge and prevailing standards.  The certification and recertification process may be a flawed method of ensuring competence in a specialty, but it is the best that we have right now.  It is much more than time-consuming busy work designed to support a certification structure.  It is one step in our ongoing efforts to improve patient care.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Several weeks ago, CMS announced its continued enforcement on reducing hospital errors by cutting reimbursement to 721 facilities having the highest rates of infections, blood clots, falls, pressure ulcers and other adverse events.  Some of the nations most renowned and prestigious institutions were included in the list of agencies penalized, including nearly half of academic medical facilities.  One out of every seven hospitals in the nation will have their Medicare payments cut by 1 percent over the next fiscal year.  The penalties are estimated to total $373 million.  In addition, some states are issuing their own penalties on hospitals that are repeat offenders.  These new penalities come on top of other financial incentives, such as fining hospitals for having too many readmissions.
This new round of penalties comes with some of the same, and legitamate complaints.  Hospitals who do a good job of identifying and tracking problems are often penalized for their efforts because their data may look worse.  Even though CMS adjusted infection rates by the type of hospital, thus trying to account for patient acuity, academic medical centers complain that the adjustments are inadequate considering the complex patients that they handle.  Health analysts express concern about penalizing publicly owned hospitals who serve as the safety net for the poor.
Every regulation and rule comes with both intended and unintended consequences.  I think we all applaud the focus on patient safety and quality care.  WOC nurses are at the center of things, helping to reduce hospital acquired pressure ulcers, catheter associated urinary tract infections and surgical site infections.  Financially penalizing hospitals certainly is a powerful motivator.  But it also might take valauable resources from institutions already struggling to care for the poorest and the sickest.

Friday, December 05, 2014
The Center for Clinical Investigation (CCI) of the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses (WOCN) Society Foundation is pleased to announce the Call for Proposals for one 2015 Member's research grant in the amount of $10,000.  If you are a registered nurse and a current member of the WOCN Society, you are eligible to be a Principal Investigator of this grant, and are invited to apply. 
Through this grant, the CCI and WOCN Society aims to expand the existing research base for WOC nursing practice and to facilitate WOC nurses to be engaged in reearch as clinical investigators.
The 2015 WOCN Society Member's Research Grant funds studies that aim to improve health outcomes of patients with WOC problems, strengthen the evidence base of WOC nursing practice, and enhance the delivery of WOC nursing care.
Studies the CCI is interested in funding include but are not limited to those that increase knowledge about WOC nursing interventions promoting patient health and well-being, describe the epidemiology, issues and impact of WOC health problems and the need for WOC nursing care, and evaluate the benefits of WOC nursing on health care delivery.  WOC nursing interventions may relate to nursing assessment, prevention, and management.
Studies that include diverse or underrepresented populations, in various clinical settings, or strategies that are culturally sensitive. advovcate for patients, or increase health literacy and patient/family care capacity are welcome.
Studies that investigate comparative effectiveness of devices or products, medical procedures, or pharmacologic trials are of low priority.
Please follow this link for more information.  The submission deadline is Monday, February 9, 2015 by 4:30 pm (CST).
About the Author

Lee Ann Krapfl
Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurse (1991 – present) at Mercy Medical Center in Dubuque, IA. Practices the full scope of wound, ostomy and continence care for adult and pediatric patients. Provides WOC nursing services in acute care, long term care, home care and outpatient settings. Has been an active member of the WOCN Society, most recently serving on the Council as the Chair of the Public Policy Committee.