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Nurses Learn to Help Patients Deal With Pain

Nurses Learn to Help Patients Deal With Pain

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

August 28, 2009

Hospital stays are generally considered uncomfortable at best, so nurses at Memorial Hospital in Belleville are working to help alleviate some of the pain.

The hospital recently started a pain resource nurse program, which offers nurses extra training in pain management to help their patients become as comfortable as possible.

Nurses attend a three-day training session at Northwestern University in Chicago to become certified in pain resources. They have to be recertified every two years.

Since June, 15 nurses at Memorial have gone through the training.

The nurses don’t receive a stipend or raise for the extra training, so “the incentive is to be a better nurse,” said Mary Lou Schmulbach, a registered nurse and clinical care director at Memorial. The hospital pays for the training.

During training, the nurses learn how different pain medications interact with each other, and they study the best combinations and dosages for different patients. They also get training in relaxation techniques, massage, physical therapy and positioning as alternatives to help reduce pain.

Once back to work at Memorial, the pain resource nurses gather monthly to talk about various pain issues, medications, the latest research in pain management and situations they have come across with patients.

Since their training, the pain resource nurses work more closely with doctors to collaborate on the best methods for pain management, Schmulbach said.

“They can talk to their physicians in a more confident way as to maybe a different combination of medications,” she said.

Patients who need extra help with pain management may have just had surgery. Managing pain symptoms can help shorten a patient’s length of stay in the hospital, Schmulbach said.

“Pain is considered the fifth vital sign, and so it’s important that we make sure our patients are comfortable.”

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