Lori Gudat, Clinical Nurse Educator at VMS BioMarketing, Discusses How Nurse Educators Help Patients Come to Terms With a Medical Diagnosis

How Clinical Nurse Educators help patients transition through stages from denial about their illness through to acceptance

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“When meeting with newly diagnosed patients for the first time, it is very important to first assess where they are emotionally,” said Lori Gudat RN, FNP-C, CDE, clinical nurse educator at VMS BioMarketing, who recently discussed how nurse educators can help patients come to terms with a medical diagnosis.

“If patients have fears about the diagnosis or treatment, they will not be able to focus on what you are trying to teach,” she said. “For patients to express their true emotions, they must feel a connection to you as their clinical nurse educator. After a new diagnosis, patients will often go through the five stages of grieving as if they have experienced a death in the family. They have not lost a life, but they have lost the life they were used to living and must adapt to living with a diagnosis.” Gudat said that experienced clinical nurse educators can assess which stage patients are experiencing and build connections from that point. The five stages are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Gudat referenced the work of Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross—whose teachings on death and dying are often part of nursing education programs—and said patients who are terminally ill will go through these stages.¹

“We can take that one step further and apply this to patients who are newly diagnosed with a chronic condition they must learn to live with for the rest of their lives,” said Gudat. “The clinical nurse educator must help the patient transition from one stage to the next and supply appropriate resources to do so. Nurses will connect with their patients by having them express fears and concerns and then assess for which stage of the Kubler-Ross model is present. It all begins with patient-centered care, which means we put the patient first and foremost.”

VMS BioMarketing clinical educators also utilize the technique of motivational interviewing. This remains a very effective way of communicating with patients and helps to uncover motivators to progress to acceptance of the new diagnosis.

“We ask open-ended questions, show empathy and work towards collaboration with the patient,” said Gudat. “This helps to build the patient-clinical educator connection. The power of what clinical nurse educators can provide to the patient can be captured through three themes: shared connection with patients, personalizing care to meet their needs, and providing reassurance when needed. One study was able to demonstrate how nurses were able to help newly diagnosed patients with epilepsy overcome their fear of the diagnosis and treatment. Patients reported decreased fears once they understood the diagnosis, tests being performed, risk management and the need for taking their medication on a consistent basis.”

Gudat said an important action of a clinical nurse educator is to ease newly diagnosed patients’ burden by breaking down new information and helping them understand what they must. “For example, once we have identified which stage they are in from the Kubler-Ross model, we can help them explore how the diagnosis will impact their life. We help them focus on dietary and activity changes, medication management, and link them to online support services.”

“When patients’ needs are met, they will have a much-improved outcome with accepting the new diagnosis and believing that life will move forward,” she said. “I always teach patients that knowledge is power – the more you know the better off you will be.”

Lori Gudat received her B.S. in Nursing from Valparaiso University, and later obtained her MS in Nursing Administration and Post MS in Nursing Certificate, Family Nurse Practitioner, from Bradley University. She joined the VMS BioMarketing team in 2014 and has since offered diabetes education to patients around the US.

About VMS BioMarketing: 
VMS BioMarketing is a leading provider of patient support solutions focused on empowering patients and healthcare providers through education, training, and ongoing health coaching. For more than 20 years, VMS has been dedicated to enabling Clinical Educators to provide the personalized support necessary to help patients successfully start and stay on therapy. VMS clients include the world's leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. To learn more, please visit www.vmsbiomarketing.com.

Gregory, C. The Five Stages of Grief an Examination of the Kubler-Ross Model.
Komatsu, H, Yagasaki, K. (2014). The Power of nursing: Guiding patients through a journey of uncertainty. European Journal of Oncology Nursing, Volume 18, Issue 4, August 2014, Pages 419-424.
Ridsdale L, Kwan I, Morgan M. (2002). How can a nurse intervention help people with newly diagnosed epilepsy? A qualitative study (of patients' views). Seizure. 2002 Jan;11(1):1-5.

Abigail Mallon 
317-805-6600, Ext. 225

Source: VMS BioMarketing


Categories: Pharmaceuticals and Biotech

Tags: Clinical Educator, Clinical Nurse Educator, Lori Gudat, medication adherence, patient adherence, VMS BioMarketing

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