Queen’s Nursing PhD student recognized for research and education leadership in skin tears
t’s been an award-winning year for Kimberly LeBlanc, an experienced nurse and educator who is currently pursuing her Nursing PhD at Queen’s. Along with receiving a prestigious Order of Merit from the Canadian Nurses Association, LeBlanc was also recently presented with a Leadership award from the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario and she was one of three individuals shortlisted for an International Leadership in Nursing Education award from the World Union of Wound Healing Societies, which will be awarded in Florence later this month. These accolades bear testimony to LeBlanc’s dedication to research and education in Enterostomal therapy and the prevention, assessment and treatment of skin tears.
The incidence of skin tears, which are defined as wounds caused by shear, friction and/or blunt force resulting in the separation of skin layers, is global and most common in the very young or very old, as well as critically ill patients. In Canada, they are found in approximately 15% of long-term care patients; globally, this number can range from 15 – 54% of patients in these settings.
Skin tears in the elderly can occur for a number of reasons – for example, they can occur from a fall, from bumping into objects, or as a result of aggressive behaviour due to dementia or other conditions. As a person ages, their skin’s elasticity and strength decreases, and they become more vulnerable to trauma. Skin tears are often regarded as minor wounds, but can cause significant pain and further health complications if not treated promptly.
LeBlanc’s PhD work is focused on the modifiable risk factors that can have an impact on the prevalence of skin tears. “We can’t change the fact that aging skin gets drier, but we can implement processes to keep the skin moisturized,” she says. “We can examine our practices around how we approach patients with cognitive impairments while dressing or bathing them, so that we reduce the risk of a skin tear occurring.”
As the President of the International Skin Tear Advisory Panel, LeBlanc was instrumental in validating a global skin tear classification system and an assessment and treatment toolkit that’s currently being used in 14 countries. The toolkit provides guidance for classifying skin tears in order to apply the most appropriate treatment, but also recommends an educational program to increase awareness and help health care professionals assess potential risks in order to minimize these wounds.
Along with her research, LeBlanc is an active educator who spends a great deal of time teaching and supervising student projects. Now, as a student herself, she is excited to be working with Dr. Kevin Woo, an assistant professor at the School of Nursing and her supervisor at Queen’s. “Dr. Woo is an amazing supervisor, and the reason I came to Queen’s,” she says. “He is a superb mentor and has provided the support and research environment that I need to take my work to the next level.”
Please share your thoughts on Kim’s work by commenting on the blog, or better yet, drop by the Macklem House…my door is always open.