How do you teach wound care staging to nurses and go beyond two-dimensional pictures for learning? Develop a collaborative relationship with Illinois State University Professor Dr. Chris Merill.

Last year, Mennonite College of Nursing Instructional Assistant Professor Dr. Teresa Novy, a wound care nurse specialist, and Angelia DeWeese, simulation educator with Carle Health, were discussing how to train RNs in wound staging. One of the challenges of classroom learning with two-dimensional images is an incomplete, inadequate view of the wound. Novy and DeWeese discussed options and began by researching companies that make models of wounds. The models were expensive, and the look of the models often didn’t match the training need.

Through another Carle staff member, Novy and DeWeese were introduced to Merrill, a professor in the Department of Technology. During the visit, Novy shared the two-dimensional wound pictures and the objective of a desired wound model. Merrill spent the next few months testing and prototyping models with different materials. Sponge, foam, and 3-D printing were tried.

In his final prototype, Merrill used plaster of paris for the foundation of the model, then applied his own carpentry skills to mold and sculpt the wound. In search of an artist, Merrill asked his wife, a preschool teacher, to paint the models for color and authenticity. Novy and DeWeese are thrilled with the realistic result and amazed at the time and creativity Merrill and his wife gave to the project. 

A training need led to an introduction of three people willing to experiment with an attitude of “Let’s give it a try.” In the end, these realistic, inexpensive models will support effective staff training of staging wounds, which will improve outcomes for patients.