Monday, March 17, 2014

Nursing Preceptorship - Maggot Therapy

I haven't written much about my preceptorship experience this semester, but I thought I'd give you an update on what has been happening.

Hard Work

First of all, it is hard work being a nurse!  I used to think it was manageable or maybe even easy to be a nurse.  We just take care of patients, right?  It couldn't be that hard?  You see them hanging around the nursing station and they look like they are just chilling out, right?  Well, apparently chilling out is actually "I'm so tired I can't even stand up anymore".

After working a nurse's full time schedule for a couple months, I am so exhausted.  My feet hurt after a 12 hour shift, and they still hurt the next morning when I wake up.  I'm on my feet all day running around.  Just when I think I might be caught up on my duties, someone will literally have a heart attack or suddenly be unable to breathe properly.  I end up calling the doctor, calling the respiratory therapist... the whole team ends up helping to make sure the patient lives through that moment.

The problem with being a student is that so much is new and unfamiliar.  I might have read about what to do in an emergency situation, but being in the middle of a real emergency situation is very different.  Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed over just how little I know, but how much I need to know in order to efficiently and capably handle what needs to be done.  I'm so thankful the nurses on my ward are so supportive and encouraging to me.

Cool Experiences That Freak Other People Out (i.e., Maggot Therapy)

Another cool thing about the place where I'm working is that the wound care nurse is super smart and loves to teach the students.  I love asking her questions because she is full of great information and she does not make you feel bad about wanting to know more.  I'd had the opportunity to learn a lot about different kinds of wound care products, what to use, what not to use, and I even got to see maggot therapy.

Maggot therapy is something I learned about in school that I've been dying to find out more about.  Maybe thanks to working in an insect lab in university, I have a particular curiosity about bugs.  So the thought of using fly babies to make wounds heal faster and better is amazing.

When I found out that a patient was undergoing maggot therapy, my eyes were probably glowing.  I rushed over to observe the wound care nurse tend to a very deep and big wound that she had placed maggots into.  I found out that the wound used to be a giant black, dead area of flesh.  The wound care nurse had cut away all the black tissue and then cleaned out the rest of the wound as best as possible, but it was apparently all pus filled and nasty for a while.

When she introduced the maggots, the tiny baby maggots began to eat away at all the dead flesh.  They don't touch healthy flesh, so they basically target only the bad stuff.  Little by little, the maggots got bigger and the wound got healthier.  By the time I saw it that day, all I could see was healthy pink tissue.

There was still some dead tissue, so the wound care nurse put new tiny maggots into the wound and used a special "cage" dressing to trap the maggots inside while still letting moisture get out.

She told us about how sometimes the wrong kind of dressing gets put on the wound during a dressing change and the moisture cannot escape.  The maggots start to drown in the wound so they will try to escape.  That's when a huge commotion might result from people that do not love medical maggots.  Sometimes the patient will freak out, more likely the nurse and visitors will freak out.

Thankfully, the patient seemed to find maggot therapy fascinating as well.  I guess you have to be pretty open-minded to agree to maggot therapy in the first place.

Meanwhile, one of the nurses was practically having a heart attack when I picked up a maggot with a gloved hand to show the other student, and helped the patient take photos with her phone camera.  I think the maggot had escaped from the original batch that was put in because it was much bigger.  I guess maggot therapy is not for everyone, but boy is it interesting.

Anyhow, it was a good experience for me.

Here's a great video by National Geographic on how maggot therapy was used to help a diabetic patient.

Here's another video about how maggot therapy helped to save a person from losing their leg.


I hope you have a great week!
  My Nursing School Diary

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