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Skills | Suturing & Stapling


This month has been very exciting for me and my physician assistant (PA) and nurse practitioner (NP) classmates. We were {finally} taught some advanced practice skills!

One of the advanced practice skills I enjoyed learning the most was suturing. This is probably because I have extensive sewing background, having grown up with my grandparents while my parents worked their Monday through Friday, 8-5pm jobs to provide a living for my brother and me.

When my grandparents and mother first immigrated to the United States back in the 70's, they had nothing and had to build their way up. My grandma, aunt, and mother worked in sewing factories in downtown Los Angeles. At the same time, my aunt and my mother were full-time students. The money that they earned was not for their own spending; it went to my grandparents to help with family expenses. The same went with my grandpa's and uncles' job earnings.

Now, flashback to the present...-ish, having spent time with my grandma watching her sew with a sewing machine and having her teach me how to hand sew really came in handy when it came time to learn suturing. Yes, suturing is different with the curved needle that is used, the use of a needle driver/holder (instead of hands) to guide the needle, and of course the material we are sewing (skin!). But, having the background knowledge of hand sewing and embroidery (which I learned myself) came in handy.

Today was my first day/time suturing, and I think I did alright for the first time. The school provided pig's feet and the materials pictured (not pictured: curved needle and thread).

One thing that is important to keep in mind after placing sutures is letting the patient know when they can follow-up for suture removal. As a general rule of thumb, these are some timeframes to keep in mind (source): 

  • Face:  3-4 days

  • Scalp:  5 days

  • Trunk:  7 days

  • Arm or Leg:  7-10 days

  • Foot:  10-14 days

For any NP students, PA students, or medical students, have you learned suturing? If so, what did you think when you learned it for the first time?
- Nicole G.

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