“Highlight of my student nurse training” Report from recent TVS sponsored place winner!

Yvonne FlemingYvonne Fleming was one of the lucky winners of a sponsored place to TVS 2016 – The Conference which was held in Cardiff.  Here is her report…

“I was delighted to win a sponsored (Undergraduate Student) place to the Tissue Viability Society Conference in Cardiff on the 20th 21st April 2016.

I’m currently an undergraduate nursing student with Edinburgh Napier University.  Since beginning my course in Sept 2014 I have been fortunate to attend the EWMA London Conference in 2015, the Wounds UK Conference in Glasgow in September 2015 and now the TVS Conference in Cardiff.

As my knowledge of Tissue Viability and Wound care grows and I develop as a nursing student, each conference furthers my understanding.  These experiences are invaluable for students as the exposure to the speakers and to the exhibitors helps us to build on the knowledge we are gaining in practice and academia.

The conference in Cardiff was excellent and it began with meeting Heidi Sandoz, TVS Chair.  It was lovely to be so warmly welcomed by Heidi and the TVS Trustees.

Particular areas of interest for me on day 1 were the Pressure Ulcer focus and Student Novice Practitioner Sessions.  The pressure ulcer focus was delivered by a number of key speakers who drew on the latest evidence from Clinical Practice and research.  One statistic that really jumped out at me was, 18.2% of pressure ulcers were incorrectly classified (The Wales National Pressure Ulcer Audit). This reminded me of why I became interested in Tissue Viability and Wound Care early in my nurse training.  In my first ward placement I found myself in a situation where I had showered a patient who had a large leg wound.  I wasn’t sure how to dress the wound being new to nursing so I asked a nurse.  Unfortunately she wasn’t sure either, so she asked another nurse who also wasn’t sure!  I remember thinking, I never want to be in this situation when I am a nurse.  I want to know how to dress a wound, but more importantly how to assess a wound or pressure ulcer and how to look for signs that a patient is vulnerable to pressure ulcers.  Then, the more I was exposed to pressure ulcers, leg ulcers, and wounds etc. the more I was interested in this area.

The session for Student Novice Practitioners was excellent and I really related to the ladies who shared their career paths within and out with nursing and how they got to where they are at now.  I’m a mature student, therefore I have had a couple of careers prior to choosing nursing.  At this stage in my life (44yrs) I feel that all the roles I have had have finally come together to equip me for my role as a future nurse.  My background has included roles in the Prison Service (Officer), Human Resources, Training, Mental Health and Health and Safety.  All person centred with many transferable skills.  All of the ladies who talked about their own careers had had varied pathways and I know that even as a late entrant in nursing the opportunities to make my career what I want it to be are there.

Jemmell Geraghty’s workshop on getting the basics right for managing leg ulceration allowed us to get active and revisit bandaging techniques and using Doppler’s correctly.  I hadn’t bandaged since my previous community placement so it was a good refresher with new tips too.

Day 2 kicked off with a focus on the diabetic foot and putting the NICE guidelines into practice.  More shocking statistics such as 135 diabetes amputations a week in the UK.  Only 50% of foot ulcers heal within 6 months.  Realising the speed at which someone can go from having something inconspicuous such as a blister develop into amputation of a toe was alarming.  The take home message was check the feet of everyone with diabetes, particularly in secondary care settings.

Another highlight was hearing a patient’s story of what it was like to live with a major wound in his abdomen.  Text books and journal articles are one thing but hearing someone’s lived experience is another and always resonates on a different level.  One can leave a conference forgetting facts and figures but the words of a personal account can remain forever.

I cannot finish without mentioning the evening meal on Wednesday night.  We met at Cardiff Museum, adjacent to the City Hall.  Having had welcome drinks in the Impressionist Gallery we were taken to the main foyer in the museum where a Welsh Male Voice Choir were singing in the gallery.  The tables were beautifully decorated and we enjoyed a beautiful meal with great company (shout out to the Tena Ladies!) and a wonderful choir who received a standing ovation at the end.  It was a wonderful evening.

I am so grateful for the experience the Tissue Viability Society have given me.  I am very close to starting my third and last year as a student and my conference experience in Cardiff will definitely be a highlight of my student nurse training”.