In recent decades, Barbara Fletcher, MSN, RN, FAHA, FPCNA, FAAN, has been at the forefront of the advances in treating cardiovascular disease, or CVD.
Now holding the position of clinical associate professor in the School of Nursing at the University of North Floridas College of Health in Jacksonville, Fletcher has spent decades focused on CVD as a clinician and a researcher. She now serves as president of the board of directors of the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association.
While CVD care undeniably has advanced, Fletcher said every day nurses still face the hurdle of helping patients understand and buy into the treatment regimens tailored to help them.
To help nurses succeed, Fletcher offers these tips.
DONT FORGET THE BASICS
While medical professionals today enjoy a greater assortment of powerful tools, including medications, devices and treatments, nurses still can improve patient outcomes with an age-old, but always relevant technique.
Nurses must not forget one of the basics nurses do best: patient and family education, Fletcher said. Even with the advancements in diagnosis and management of CVD, nurses must continue to emphasize risk factor control and overcoming barriers to adherence.
One of the greatest barriers to adherence today comes from patient misconceptions. And the greatest source of misinformation? The Internet, Fletcher said.
While the Internet offers both patients and nurses easy access to untold reams of information, it also can encourage patients not to follow their caregivers instructions.
Although patients have access to much more information, not all of it is current, unbiased and based on evidence, Fletcher said. Patient and family education plays a vital role here in dispelling misconceptions. Using a patient-centered approach with patient and family education would alleviate many misconceptions.
EDUCATOR, TEACH THYSELF
CVD care already has benefited greatly from electronic medical records, and Fletcher encourages nurses to continue to explore all the materials available now and in the future about EMR and associated technologies.
She also stressed nurses should continue to stay abreast of the latest advances in CVD care through professional education and networking with colleagues, whether face-to-face or through presentations.
Continuing professional education cannot be stressed enough, she said.
AND SPEAKING OF SOMETHING TO BE AWARE OF
In October, PCNA hosted its Global Nurse Leadership Forum, an inaugural international conference on CVD and stroke prevention.
Fletcher said attendees at the conference focused on the goal of creating a master plan to address CVD and stroke prevention challenges and barriers nurses encounter throughout the world.
We hope to develop strategies to navigate these challenges, Fletcher said, adding the work continuing beyond the conference will include an action plan to ultimately reduce the burden of CVD and stroke worldwide and elevate the role of the nurse and nursing worldwide.