Trauma care is a collaborative effort that relies on the streamlined linkage of multiple functions, starting with entry and admittance into the unit to post-surgery follow-up. While U.S. models for trauma care require such a process, this is not always the case in hospitals and medical care units around the world.
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS) the Rutgers School of Nursing, and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in concert with the GAIA Centers, hosted a global nursing symposium to provide implementable models for nurses from Kenya and Colombia for career growth into clinical and administrative trauma management.
Dr. Gregory Peck, assistant professor of surgery and associate director of trauma at RWJMS; Dr. Suzanne Willard, an advanced practitioner and associate dean of global health at the School of Nursing; and Lisa Falcon, a trauma program manager at RWJUH led a multidisciplinary team of biomedical and health experts and students to create the “Interprofessional Models in Global Injury Care and Education.”
The symposium was born from a global surgery partnership designed to provide hands-on training to RWJMS trainees in Cali, Colombia, and with the help of a grant from the GAIA Centers. Three years ago, Peck and Falcon brought acute surgery fellows to Cali where both the Colombian and American groups realized that surgical teams in Colombia could benefit from more streamlined systems that revolve around communication and teamwork.
“Part of why we’re really most excited about this is because we’ve gone to Columbia and they’ve helped us in a lot of ways and this is really a concrete part of a bi-directional commitment that we have made to Columbia,” said Peck.
The program is designed to use Rutgers’ global connections, notably with Latin America, as a channel to educate medical professionals in less developed countries on the U.S model of trauma management and injury care by maximizing a nurse’s poise and improving teamwork.
During the two-week symposium, attendees learned how to strategize and implement a performance improvement (PI) plan.
“Performance improvement is a systematic process used to review all aspects of injury care at our trauma center. We spend a good portion of time reviewing our injury care and processes looking for ways to make the care better for our patients," said Falcon.
One such example of a PI is coordinating regular training of the nursing staff with trauma educators and surgeons, which is particularly helpful for new nurses.
Other aspects of the symposium focused on the role of a trauma nurse manager—not only as part of the medical team, but as a member of the surrounding community.
“The trauma program manager’s role is really to coordinate all resources necessary to take great care of our trauma patients—to remove any barriers that the teams are facing in trying to care of those patients,” Falcon explained. “Promoting and educating communities about injury prevention and injury care is a responsibility of trauma centers.”
For many healthcare professionals across the globe, working conditions can test their limits, which is what makes this type of education on efficiency, teamwork, and prevention all the more crucial. One attendee, Tecla Sum of Kenya, Africa, touched on the potential for future projects.
“I have learned a lot in such a short time and the info I’ve learned is so magnificent I know it will be useful back home,” she said. “I saw the PI process and I think that it’s really the way to go because it informs and indicates and corrects errors. You cannot work without that.”
Another program Sum said she’d like to implement is the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital’s (RWJUH) Safe Kids program, an injury and prevention education program designed for pre-K and elementary school children that encourages safe behaviors, such as wearing bicycle helmets and crossing the street only at designated crosswalks.
“Children can be such a forgotten population so we are going to liaise with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital to ensure that this projects takes hold back home in Kenya,” Sum said.
It wasn’t just the curriculum that enriched attendees—it was the personal connections stemming from professional ties.
“My favorite part was everyone sharing each other’s cultures, people going out walking together, and sharing experiences which was very enriching for me,” said Francisco Lopez of Colombia.
Yuly Andrea Santa Mejia of Colombia agreed.
“My favorite part of the experience was that I always felt like I was home, despite being so far away,” she said.