Background The inception toward recognition of a specialty practice in rheumatology nursing has followed slightly similar as well as somewhat diverse path in the U.S. as compared to other countries. Where rheumatology is concerned, the European countries have a longer and well documented history and research track. International literature supports four domain roles of practice, leadership, education, and research in benchmarking rheumatology nursing roles. There are differences to note in preparation and scope of practice among the various educational degrees of the registered nurse compared to European counterparts.
Objectives To compare and contrast roles and perceptions of roles between the US rheumatology nurses in undergraduate and graduate levels within the four domains of practice, leadership, education, and research.
Methods A convergent mixed methods study design with an investigator initiated survey and small cohort telephone interview was conducted with 160 convenience sampled practicing rheumatology nurses in the U.S. Quantitative data were analyzed with descriptive statistics. Qualitative data were explored in a step-wise strategy culminating with the discovery of commonalities and themes. An investigator-initiated single-use survey instrument was developed for use in this study. This survey is a “first in the U.S.” data-gathering survey and was not designed to be a repeated-use measurement tool. Items within the survey were based on a literature search for the most common roles and role preparations identified for the rheumatology nurse. The researcher developed interview guide questions for utilization during the telephone interview phase of the study.
Results Results demonstrated within the practice role, personal knowledge and communication skills were key themes to successfully fulfill the sub-roles of educator/counselor and drug treatment monitor. Clear differences emerged in the practice domain from the pediatric rheumatology nurse participants which have not been addressed in the literature. Nurse-led clinics for adults are utilized widely in Europe but less than 9% of the participants in the survey reported working in that environment in the U.S. Leadership and research domains were candidly lacking for ownership and responsibility.
Conclusions Skills, advice, attributes, specifics, and clarifications were provided by nurse participants at every opportunity to share what they love to do; care for the patient with a rheumatologic condition. Nursing education, innate abilities, and acquired skills when coupled with the individuality and needs of the rheumatology patients, fulfill an opportunity for the rheumatology nurse to personally flourish. Nurses must be able to provide specialty care within the full scope and standards of practice. The international literature supports such claims and the body of evidence continues to grow. However, the U.S. literature is not as replete. Thus, there is a need for further research in this area conducted among U.S. rheumatology nurses.
Disclosure of Interest None declared