Providing care for patients with rheumatic diseases requires an understanding of complex medications, lab tests, and triage. An ARHP session, Rheumatology 101, is intended to provide the new RN or advanced practice provider (APP) with an overview of rheumatology care to allow them to practice knowledgeably and comfortably. The session will be held Tuesday from 8:30 – 10:00 am in Room W190a.
Lindsay Lundell, PharmD, of the Fairview Health System and University of Minnesota Health Clinics and Surgery Center in Minneapolis, MN, will begin with a review of medications and the role they play in treating rheumatic diseases.
“In this age of biologics and biosimilars and other new and emerging therapies, the medications for treating various rheumatic conditions are constantly changing, so it’s really important for health professionals to have a good understanding of the medication classes we use in rheumatology and which medications fall into those classes,” Dr. Lundell said.
Dr. Lundell will describe the mechanism of action for common rheumatology medications, explain the difference between classifications of disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and offer tips on how to approach common medication questions in adult rheumatology.
“Rheumatology health professionals need to be knowledgeable about the medications that we commonly use in practice, because a lot of them have some pretty serious side effects,” she said. “I think one of the best ways we can serve our patients is to make sure we have a good understanding of how these medications are working and affecting people’s bodies, because if we feel more confident with medications as a whole, that confidence will transfer onto our patients.”
Common lab tests for rheumatology patients will be the topic of a presentation by Elizabeth Kirchner, CNP, Family Nurse Practitioner, Department of Rheumatologic and Immunologic Disease at the Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH. Kirchner will explain the relationship between RF/CCP positivity and rheumatoid arthritis disease activity, discuss the clinical importance of a positive anti-nuclear antibody test, identify the major components of an extractable nuclear antigen panel and match them to their diseases, and talk about the importance of human leukocyte antigen testing in patients with spondyloarthritis.
“It’s important to understand these labs, because they may aid in diagnosis and many treatment decisions are based, at least in part, on these results,” Kirchner said. “It’s also important for RNs and APPs to understand these labs so we can better educate our patients and answer any questions they may have, especially since many patients have access to their lab results through EMRs (electronic medical records), and some of them are quite complex.”
In the final presentation of the session, Carrie Beach, BSN, RN, of the Columbus Arthritis Center, Columbus, OH, will discuss rheumatology triage, including common patient questions regarding rheumatic diseases and treatments and the importance of prioritization regarding telephone triage.
“As a rheumatology nurse, my primary role is to educate patients. And the majority of my time is spent doing this over the phone, answering questions from patients regarding diagnosis, disease state, and treatments as related to their specific rheumatologic condition,” Beach said. “In this session, we’ll go over many of those common questions and talk about how to address them with confidence and accuracy.”