Wound care education solutions: Creative ways to make it easier for nurses to do the right thing

Squeeze in time for staff development with creative strategies including quizzes, quick videos and hands-on help

Nurses at all career stages expect and appreciate ongoing educational opportunities. In fact, studies show that providing staff development boosts job satisfaction, lowers turnover rates and improves patient care.1 But with a very real nurse shortage2, and nurse schedules already jampacked, finding time for such training is easier said than done.

While all-day training sessions and annual conferences can offer valuable information on an array of topics, they aren’t always practical for everyone on staff. It’s time to get resourceful about wound care education by developing creative alternatives that meet frontline nurses where—and when—they’re available.

Focus your education

Before diving into any education program, it helps to have a plan. To start, create a simple survey that can help guide your staff programming over the time period you choose, whether a year, a quarter or just a month. This tactic also helps prevent the most vocal and assertive staff from getting what they need, while others are left unheard.

Your survey should include:

Knowledge gap assessment. Discover the areas of wound care that need the most focus among staff. Is it staging? Wound dressing selection? The Braden Scale? Come up with a checklist of topics and ask nurses to select their top three or four.

Best timing. Ask staff to indicate the days and times that best suit their schedules, so you can reach as many people as possible with in-person education opportunities.

Preferred learning strategies. Your survey should also ask nurses how they like to learn. In her book, “Unit-Based Staff Development for Clinical Nurses,” Joan Such Lockhart, PhD, RN, CORLN, AOCN, FAAN, suggests including the following options:3

  • Posters
  • Unit-based lectures with discussions
  • Self-learning modules
  • Displays
  • Case presentations
  • Journal article review (journal club)
  • Video and slides
  • Written materials (pamphlets, books)
  • Games and simulations
  • Computer-assisted instruction
  • Other

Dr. Lockhart recommends allowing as much as two months to collect and analyze the survey data before developing your educational strategies.3 Consider making the survey anonymous, as well, so nurses feel comfortable being truthful about what they don’t know.

A case study: Learn from their success

“[The CNAs and patient care technicians] do the bulk of skin health care: bath, incontinence care, some ostomy and wound care, pressure injury prevention, but wow, they need education,” says Retta Sutterfield, RN, APRN, CWOCN, St. Louis WOCN president and Medline consultant. The challenge: “No entity wants to pay for them to have a mandatory in-service.”

Instead, Sutterfield got imaginative. For five years before she retired from a hospital in St. Louis, Sutterfield hosted what she called a WOC (“walk”) to Lunch program for the CNAs and PCTs. She also invited the nursing students, “since they knew nothing about WOC nursing,” Sutterfield says. The event featured six stations from wound care vendors, each with a 10-minute in-service activity that covered topics such as moisturizers, heel protection, surface overlays and nutrition—“Folks actually had to taste that stuff,” Sutterfield recalls.

The setup. There was intentionally nowhere to sit, which encouraged attendees to walk around to all the stations as they ate free pizza. Sutterfield covered both day and night shifts by repeating the event twice. “Yes, the vendors came at night,” she says.

The homework.To make this happen, Sutterfield had to do a few things:

  • Convince leadership that the event would be held during the 30-minute lunch when techs aren’t paid.
  • Make it enticing enough that the CNAs and PCTs would want to attend. In addition to the vendor stations, pizza was delivered at staggered times so it was always hot, and there were promises of desirable door prizes like gas station gift cards.
  • Do it all for practically nothing. Pizza was courtesy of the vendors, door prizes only cost $125, Sutterfield herself recruited attendees that first year, and members of the Skin Wound Assessment Team (SWAT) provided cookies and free assistance (they received credit for their time).
  • Evaluate and improve. Sutterfield asked each WOC to Lunch attendee to complete an evaluation that informed the following year’s event.

The results. Nearly 100 people came. “It was free lunch, fun and a pat on the back for those who are often excluded by the system,” Sutterfield says. By the second year, some techs and aides actually came on their day off, and the techs asked that the nurses be invited as well, because the information was so valuable. It was also incredibly effective as part of an overall program to help reduce pressure injuries.

The best part. Patients benefitted. Techs got more involved with skin health because, Sutterfield explains, “They understood that a patient needed a higher level of pressure injury prevention.” The boost in education also gave the techs confidence to contact Sutterfield when they had questions. Most exciting of all, says Sutterfield, “This program was part of the plan to reduce the PIs. They were reduced from 11 percent to 0.84 percent” by the time she left in August 2018. The WOCs to Lunch still take place each year.

More staff education ideas

Send an e-newsletter. A WOC nurse can either collect or write skin health-related educational pieces for each newsletter that’s emailed to nursing staff on a regular basis. Or encourage subscribing to the Medline Skin Health e-newsletter and set up a time to discuss one article each week.

Organize a journal club. Ask unit staff to review a topic-focused skin health article and discuss it with nurses in their daily huddles. Then they can decide what can and should be implemented within their unit.

Build a Skin Champion team. Not only does this empower your staff with knowledge of pressure injuries, it also means you now have more staff who can answer skin health questions and can hold educational sessions for frontline nurses.

Schedule a poster symposium. Ask each unit to submit a wound care-related poster topic and set up a poster viewing area that’s easily accessed.

Create a WOC website. Work with information services to build internal resource pages that contain items such as vendor-provided product tip sheets, wound care PowerPoints, links to articles with information and useful lessons.

Watch videos. As a unit, watch some of the existing quick-hit wound care videos and discuss. A search on YouTube for “wound care minute” brings up plenty of options, including those recorded by Wound Care Education Institute co-founder Nancy Morgan, RN, BSN, MBA, WOC, WCC, DWC, OMS, Medline consultant.

Lessons from the business world4

Look for teaching moments. There’s a big push in corporate environments to provide employees with real-time, continuous feedback, rather than waiting for annual reviews to discuss areas open for improvement. Translated to wound care: If you see a nurse who could use some help with a wound prevention or treatment procedure, don’t just help her, teach her, so she can get it right the next time.

Encourage mentoring. Another benefit of real-time teaching is that you also create a culture of learning, so that the nurse you help will feel comfortable coaching others.

Build bridges. Businesses are moving away from siloed departments, something that you can introduce in your organization by instituting cross-unit education. At the Floyd Medical Center, Director of Nursing Specialty Services Traci Tillery, MSN, FNP-BC, CWOCN-AP, CFCN, Medline consultant, designated a WOC nurse staff member in each unit (some WOCs are in charge of more than one unit). These nurses would attend staff meetings and lead a monthly in-service based on an identified specific floor need. Tillery says this has not only helped educate staff, it has improved relationships among departments, which produces better wound care for patients.

In conclusion, there’s time for education

Making time for wound care education is possible with some planning and creativity. Medline offers new ways to engage and inform frontline staff such as outlined in video on skin health educational programs. Plus, download ready-to-go posters to help educate staff about lower extremity wounds, and explore more skin health learning tools at Medline University.


  1. (Accessed February 15, 2020)
  2. (Accessed February 15, 2020); (Accessed February 15, 2020)
  3. (Accessed February 15, 2020)
  4. (Accessed February 15, 2020)