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The importance of keeping our nursing knowledge up to date

No matter how experienced nurses and educators may be, it is vital to read widely and keep abreast of what is current in our learning, says Lorna McInulty

No matter how experienced nurses and educators may be, it is vital to read widely and keep abreast of what is current in our learning


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Browsing the internet to prepare for a teaching session on thoracic injury, I came across an updated version of ATOM FC, a widely used mnemonic for the six potentially fatal conditions associated with major chest trauma – airway obstruction, tension pneumothorax, open pneumothorax, massive haemothorax, flail chest, and cardiac tamponade.

Within the mnemonic, what was formerly ‘A’ for ‘airway obstruction’ had now become ‘A’ for ‘airway obstruction or disruption’ (Nickson 2019). Further exploration of the subject then led to uncovering the notion of air embolism as a direct result of chest injury (Laratta and Cheung 2015), an additional potentially fatal condition.

I had never, to my knowledge, encountered this condition in a patient. Neither had I come across it in any standard trauma text book, guideline or training. A quick survey of a dozen people in my workplace demonstrated that none of them were aware of this condition.

Read widely, keep up with change

I embarked on a further search of the literature during which I stumbled on yet another new concept – tension haemothorax. I found numerous recent articles on the topic.

This brings home several points. First, it is easy to believe that some things never change. However, just occasionally something new emerges.

Therefore, no matter how experienced or knowledgeable we might be it is vital to read widely and keep abreast of what is current, new or even unexpected.

Learning never stops

Educators must not become lazy and rest on their laurels, assuming their experience will render them infallible. It can be too easy to simply turn out last year’s session.

Likewise, clinicians should continue their learning to accumulate a breadth of knowledge and experience that will enhance their patient management, far beyond what they learned through their original programmes of study.

The power of the internet, where information is quickly and easily accessible, combined with an inquisitive mind, should mean that our learning simply never stops.


Lorna McInulty is senior lecturer in emergency and unscheduled care at the University of Central Lancashire, and is a member of the Emergency Nurse editorial advisory board

 

 

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