The fellows say that having nurses involved in the fellowship program gives them confidence in their own abilities to successfully work with patients if a nurse is unavailable.
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Explore This IssueJuly 2020
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“When I am on my own, I feel much more comfortable now discussing the application and use of medications—that will follow me throughout my career,” notes Dr. Liebowitz. “I have not only learned actual content to share, but also an effective way to approach patients and how to include them in discussions about treatment issues.”
Dr. DiRenzo agrees and adds that this exposure has absolutely added to her learning experience.
“This program improved the fellowship experience by giving us a real-world perspective,” she says. “You can go to the RNs for advice on things MDs may not have as much patient-centered experience with. I would have never received that training if they had not been a part of practice.”
“The fellows come away with a better understanding of how to use nurses to the greatest extent possible,” says Dr. Bingham. “RNs bring unique perspectives that further our patient-centered programs. This leads to improving adherence to medications and regimens, and ultimately improving outcomes.”
Trainees also gain an understanding of critical skills required in clinical practice that are not otherwise covered in the curriculum.
“Obviously, not all fellows will stay in academics or other areas where they will have nurses available, so they need to know more about what we do,” says Ms. Ruffing. “Many fellows recognize the value of nurses through this interaction and plan to incorporate a nurse into their private practices.”
For those fellows going into practices that have a nursing staff, the program has given them insight into how to best use this resource. Others have been prompted to add nursing to their practices following graduation.
“I feel like the old model of a physician working by themselves, isolated from the patient, is no longer viable,” says Dr. Liebowitz. “Now, there is more understanding that we all have to work in teams. I think that having nursing as part of the team in the early stages of my career illustrates and confirms the importance.”
“An educated patient who feels an equal in the decision-making process is going to be a more adherent one,” says Ms. Ruffing. “Not all rheumatologists come out really understanding how to discuss things with patients. Patient education is the nurse’s corner, and it is something the fellows are most eager to learn.”