When working at a rheumatology practice for the first time, a nurse practitioner will require several months of training in how to care for rheumatology patients. The ACR has online tools for learning the ropes of rheumatology, says Ms. Rodamaker, who specifically recommends the Rheum2learn and Advanced Rheumatology Course.
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“I have been fortunate to work with rheumatologists who have taught me how to do procedures that are usually done in a clinic,” she says.
Ms. Rodamaker can perform most of the tasks that a rheumatologist does, including writing prescriptions for most medications and other types of treatments, such as occupational and physical therapy and diagnostics, such as imaging and laboratory testing. However, she doesn’t see hospitalized patients. Although she doesn’t currently perform ultrasounds for guided joint injections and diagnostic assessment, if trained, she would be able to perform these tasks.
Teaching roles: Ms. Rodamaker works in a teaching setting with both attending physicians and fellows. If a fellow’s schedule doesn’t allow sufficient time to see patients as frequently as needed, she can see those patients. Then as a team, they address the patient’s needs. She also has nurse practitioner students accompany her in clinic rotations.
Ms. Bahr says nurse practitioners can excel at teaching, educating a patient about their disease or medication. They can also lead group educational sessions and motivate patients to attend support groups.
Working with Rheumatologists
When working with rheumatologists, Ms. Bahr says it’s important to have clear expectations for the role. And rheumatologists must be willing to provide guidance as needed. “Valuing each other’s role is important when working in a collaborative relationship,” she says.
Ms. Bahr’s practice has a provider meeting once a week. “This [meeting] is helpful because everyone can present difficult cases and have others review them and provide advice,” she says.
Providers also meet weekly and discuss recent clinical studies and educational articles in the rheumatology field. “This [meeting] helps ensure everyone is practicing with the most current [approaches]. It has helped raise awareness of many different problems that can occur among different disease states.”
Karen Appold is a medical writer in Pennsylvania.
- American College of Rheumatology. Role of the nurse practitioner in the management of rheumatic disease. 2018.