Shifting Perspectives on Skin

We focus on the heart, we focus on the lungs, but we overlook skin. And the skin is the gateway to the entire body.


It’s the body’s largest organ. It is the body’s barrier protecting us from microbes and the elements while regulating body temperature. And when that barrier is compromised, serious skin conditions and costly complications can result. But why isn’t skin put first in care?

For Kim Schommer, skin has gone from being an afterthought to her primary focus. For more than a decade, Kim spent 12 hours a day working in both a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). Even though she was caring for some of the sickest children with the most fragile skin, she admits that skin wasn’t top of mind.

Skin wasn’t a focus in nursing school. We learned about the Braden scale but that is about it. We don’t think about proactively managing skin or protecting it unless we would see breakdown. In hindsight, it should have been a larger discussion and focus – especially for those of us working with some of the most vulnerable patients.


Today, skin rarely leaves Kim’s mind for two reasons. The first is personal. Her mother lost the most protective layers of her skin after years of sun exposure. Layers of skin she cannot replace. Because of this critical loss, normal bumps and scratches turn into severe bruises and bleeds that often don’t stop for several hours. Perhaps the biggest loss is how it impacts the way her mom plays with Kim’s children.

Because her skin can be so severely damaged, my mom has to be aware of everything she does. We always have to remind my kids to be gentle because of the damage they could potentially cause.


The second reason skin remains front and center is because of her career. Kim works at 3M where she brings her clinical knowledge to product development and ongoing customer training. Her focus – medical adhesives and driving a deeper understanding about Medical Adhesive-Related Skin Damage or MARSI.

I wish that when I was practicing in the hospital, I had the insight I have now. It would have made me more conscientious of the choices I was making and being vocal about the choices other clinicians were making when it came to caring for these little humans.


Hear Kim’s story.

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