Welcome to the WOCN Society Member Spotlight blog, featuring the inspiring stories behind our members. This month, we’re spotlighting Vickee Ramik—a passionate nurse with a career spanning four decades.
Victoria (Vickee) Ramik, MS, APRN, ACNS-BC, CCRN-K, CWOCN®, has been a member of the WOCN Society for over a decade. She is an inpatient wound, ostomy, and continence clinical nurse specialist in Connecticut.
Vickee has been a nurse for 45 years, predominately as a bedside nurse and clinical nurse specialist in critical care. While working with medical critical care patients, she had not considered becoming certified in wound, ostomy, and continence care.
That all changed after one of her assignments. Vickee was tasked to care for a septic patient who had just been discharged from the surgical intensive care (SICU) unit after complex abdominal surgery with subsequent abdominal reconstructive surgery. The patient had an open abdominal wound with an ileostomy and multiple stomatized fistulas. The patient was awake, but hemodynamically unstable requiring multiple vasopressor infusions. The wound/fistula pouch was leaking everywhere, causing additional skin injury to the periwound skin. Vickee called the WOC nurse who was covering the medical intensive care unit (MICU) that day, but the nurse was not available to assist. The nurse instructed Vickee to look for the patient’s supplies and instructions on how to pouch the ileostomy and fistulas. “I had no idea what I was looking at on the patient’s abdominal wall but thought if the patient could assist the visiting nurse with this procedure, then I should also be able to provide the same care”, Vickee said. She was able to follow the instructions and photos to reapply the ostomy pouch and wound manager to the abdominal wall. With the patient’s guidance, it took Vickee two hours, but finally, the pouch and wound manager was secured and was not leaking! Vickee called her WOC nurse who stated that she was now ready to pursue tri-specialty certification. Vickee felt confident that if the patient was able to do this at home, she could also learn these skills and help other patients.
After working as the nursing skin champion representing the MICU of a university-affiliated medical center, participating in the quarterly National Pressure Injury Advisory Panel (NPIAP) prevalence survey, and developing corresponding action plans, Vickee decided to pursue wound certification. Her WOC nurse preceptor encouraged her to become certified in all three specialties. She was not aware of how interrelated critical care and WOC nursing were until she simultaneously practiced within these specialties. While patient care delivery has become more complex, Vickee finds that WOC nursing practice adds great flexibility and creativity to patient care.
Joining the WOCN Society
Vickee joined the WOCN Society in 2009. She has been a member of multiple professional organizations. She started out as a member of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) in 1982. She is also a member of the American Nurses Association (ANA) and Sigma Theta Tau. She believes that membership in professional organizations, like the WOCN Society, provides opportunities that are not otherwise available such as mentorship, networking, and professional development. “My favorite part about being a member of the WOCN Society is networking with professional colleagues from a variety of disciplines, many of whom have become close friends,” said Vickee.
Meaningful WOC Moments
Vickee has a special connection with her patients. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Vickee has had patients with complex ostomies that required multiple medical and surgical needs resulting in hospital length of stays of up to 1 year. Although Vickee did not need to directly deliver wound and ostomy care continuously throughout both patients’ length of stay, she did oversee their care needs throughout the continuum of care. Vickee feels that continuity is especially important with continuous change in the physician teams who were not completely aware of the details of both patients’ medical histories. While not being able to receive visits from their families, Vickee would continue to ‘visit’ the patients throughout their stay, especially with homemade food, and continued to celebrate special occasions when they were not able to visit with their families in person.
Although her formal position is in acute care, Vickee is aware of the effect a lengthy hospital stay has on the patient and family after discharge. Vickee stated, “As a WOC nurse, our practice is heavily dependent on prescribing a variety of medical supplies to our patients. The VHA system allows me to provide my patients in a variety of healthcare settings with products to meet their needs to improve their quality of life, which may not be available in other healthcare systems. This has impacted my life as a WOC nurse and I hope I had the same effect on theirs.”
A Look Into Her Life
When Vickee is not working, she enjoys the company of family and friends. She has a large extended family and hopes to see them more often after she retires. She enjoys spontaneous car rides on a nice sunny day along the Connecticut shoreline and throughout New England.
Looking Toward the Future
Vickee plans to retire from her current job soon. “I just renewed my WOC certification, so I still have 5 more years of certification! While I do not have any formal plans after I retire, I know I will miss taking care of my WOC patients. So, who knows?” said Vickee.
Thank You, Vickee
On behalf of the WOCN Society, thank you, Vickee, for being a valuable member of the WOCN Society and for the clinical skill, education, empathy, and trust you bring to the profession of WOC care.