Skip Navigation
The Catalyst

New trauma nurse specialist program meets national goals

By J. Ryne Danielson
Public Relations

MUSC nurses Mandy Gainey, from left, Steve Kimsel, Karen Degueldre and Brian Cox (not pictured) presented a poster on the Trauma Nurse Specialist Program at the October symposium. photo provided

As a Level I trauma center, MUSC has made a commitment to continuing medical education for all nurses involved in the care of trauma patients. To meet the requirements set forth by the American College of Surgeons, nurses from MUSC’s emergency department, in conjunction with their colleagues in the surgical trauma ICU, have developed a trauma nurse specialist program consisting of five weeks of classroom and clinical training.

“This has been entirely nurse–driven,” said Roberta Dawson, R.N., the assistant nurse manager in the Adult Emergency Department and Chest Pain Center. Dawson was a member of the program's founding group of nurses and now facilitates continued development of the trauma nurse specialist program.

“The program,” she said, “has increased satisfaction between staff members, the trauma team and the ED, and it serves as an important avenue to streamline and improve care.”

Nurses from MUSC presented a poster with details of the program at the Southeastern Trauma Symposium in Colombia, South Carolina, in October. “There’s nothing like this in South Carolina,” she said. “There is only one certified program like it in the nation, and that’s the direction we would like to take this program. We’d like to make this a nationally accredited program.”

Dawson said their next goals include partnering with the simulation lab to add more hands on training to the program, as well as partnering with the pediatric unit, and increasing participation overall. “From there, we’d like to expand locally and open the program to other hospitals in South Carolina,” she said, “then eventually progress up to national accreditation.”

Three classes have been held so far and approximately 25 nurses have completed the program which launched one year ago. To undertake the course, nurses must receive peer recommendations as well as doctor recommendations. Eligible nurses must have at worked at MUSC at least six months, with prior ED experience, or one year with no prior experience.

“The trauma nurse specialist program is critical to MUSC’s success as a Level I trauma center,” said Terrie Stewart, RN, MUSC’s new trauma program manager. “Not every hospital or trauma center has that. It really sets us apart.”

As the Lowcountry’s only Level I trauma center, MUSC plays a key role in providing top–level care to patients from across the region who have a serious illness or injury. MUSC is one of only two such centers in the state to be accredited by the ACS, whose requirements, in addition to providing continuing medical education, also include a dedicated team of trauma specialists available 24 hours a day. Stewart said: “Some smaller EDs might have to go all over the hospital to find qualified doctors and nurses because they don’t have the resources we have. One of those resources is the trauma nurse specialist program.”

Another requirement of the ACS is that the program must focus on injury prevention and rehabilitation not just the treatment of injuries.

“MUSC provides a complete continuum of care,” Stewart said. “We start with injury prevention. Our perspective is that all injuries can be prevented and we could put ourselves out of a job.”

MUSC’s injury prevention outreach program, whereby doctors and nurses engage with the community — giving talks in schools and hosting town halls — is an important step toward that goal.

She continued, “We also work closely with paramedics in the pre–hospital phase on education and feedback. Then there is the acute care phase and, finally, discharge and rehabilitation. Nurses are involved in every phase of a patient’s care. And, truly, they’re not just our patients while they’re at MUSC; they’re our patients until they return to their previous standard of living.”    

According the New England Journal of Medicine, the full range of care afforded by a Level I trauma center may increase patient survival rates up to 25 percent. “Well–trained nurses are key to such successful outcomes,” Stewart said.

December 18, 2014



© 2013  Medical University of South Carolina | Disclaimer