From treating the common cold to managing care transition for a life-threatening illness, nurse practitioners are excellent patient care providers and partners with compassionate hearts and extensive skills set. But as health care has become more and more specialized, nurse practitioner students in the UAB School of Nursing are teamed with students and faculty in other fields so that they can be familiar with each medical discipline’s scope of practice to better ensure continuity of care and optimize patient outcomes
On Saturday July 11, 2015 students in the Adult-Gerontology Primary Care and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner MSN Specialty tracks took part in an interprofessional simulation with the UAB School of Optometry, as part of their on-campus intensive.
The nurse practitioner students learned how to perform non-dilated eye exams using direct ophthalmoscopy, which is a test that allows a health care provider to see inside the back of the eye and other structures using a magnifying instrument and a light source. It can be done as part of a routine physical exam and abnormal results can be an indication of a number of conditions and diseases, including glaucoma, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Dale Tomlinson, DNP, CRNP, ANP-BC, CCD, Assistant Professor in the UAB School of Nursing, said that certain pathologic conditions such as diabetes, arteriosclerosis, and hypertension can cause changes in the optic nerve and retina. These changes can be picked up by such an examination. Nurse practitioners manage these chronic disease states and can detect changes before irreversible damage is done.
The partnership was an endeavor initiated by Tomlinson and she said it makes sense to add it to skills taught during some of the School’s MSN intensives, given UAB’s on-campus resources.
“The eye exam is a complex skill that is difficult for students to master and what better way to sharpen that skill than utilize the experts in our own backyard?,” added Tomlinson.
Much like the School of Nursing’s educational partnerships with the Schools of Medicine, Health Professions and others, this interprofessional exercise seeks to build the bridge between nursing and other health professions to create a mutually beneficial educational opportunities.
Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs in the UAB School of Optometry Elizabeth Steele, O.D., F.A.A.O., was enthusiastic about the interdisciplinary learning activity. Steele thought it would be a beneficial experience for her students as well.
“Most people don’t understand the scope of what optometrists do,” said Steele. “This is a great way to provide further insight regarding what we do day today, and when a patient may need to be referred to us.”
Steele brought seven student volunteers and Stephanie Cox, O.D., F.A.A.O., Clinical Assistant Professor of Optometry, with her on the day of the lab. Each volunteer was assigned to work with a group of nurse practitioner students. Two student volunteers had one of their eyes dilated so the practicing nurse practitioner students could better visualize eye structures to be examined.
“I really appreciated the hands-on instruction from the specialists,” said one nurse practitioner student. “I feel so much more confident in my eye exam.”
The interdisciplinary experience was so successful, Tomlinson said, many students stayed after to continue practicing.
“The only complaint we had was that the students wanted more time,” added Tomlinson. “Many said it was their favorite session of the day.”
Steele and Tomlinson are working together to continue this interdisciplinary partnership and introduce learning activities earlierin the curriculum next year.
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NP students learn eye exam skills through interprofessional partnership with UAB School of Optometry
Nurse Practitioner students learn eye exam skills through interprofessional partnership with UAB School of Optometry