PFF Insights

Breathing Life into Healthcare: Nurses Make the Difference

by Mary Beth Jamison, NP-C
May 09, 2024
Each year, in the month of May, we take time to celebrate National Nurses Week, coinciding with the birthday of Florence Nightingale on May 12. This year, the American Nurses Association has chosen the theme “Nurses Make the Difference” which offers a fantastic opportunity to highlight the increasingly important role that nurses play in caring for those with interstitial lung diseases (ILD).

Living with a chronic disease can be overwhelming and living with pulmonary fibrosis (PF) is no exception. There is no doubt that while dealing with a new diagnosis of a disease that you may have never heard of, you are faced with fear, frustration, depression, or confusion. The experience and relationship that you have with your healthcare team should be one that helps alleviate some of these feelings, and the nurses on your team can make a huge difference.

One thing that I always try to empower my patients to do is to reach out to me or our clinic nurses any time they have even the smallest question about their health. I want them to be their own advocates if they feel like something is wrong. However, in order to do that, they need a real relationship with the people in our clinic. Nurses in your ILD clinic or pulmonology office, whether clinic navigators or nurse practitioners, should be your advocates as well. They can truly “make the difference” in your experience living with ILD.

Nurses will always be there to advocate for you when your testing isn’t getting scheduled promptly, your referrals have been delayed, or results are not being clearly relayed to you. Because, let’s face it, healthcare is complex! It is complicated for healthcare providers, insurance companies, and especially for patients dealing with ILD. Nurses must be masters of navigating the system while maintaining focus on you, the patient. As people with ILD can often experience more rapid progressions and worsening of the disease than those living with other lung diseases, it is important to maintain a working relationship with the nurses in your local office, so that we can help you navigate this complex system during this phase of your life.

Personally, I am an active member of our local pulmonary fibrosis support group that is sponsored by the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. I know many nurses in local clinics also attend and/or speak at PF support group meetings. This can be a great way to hear stories that are similar to yours, and to get to know your local ILD clinic nurses and staff. For information on joining a support group visit this link.

Lastly, let’s thank our healthcare teams for their hard work and encourage them to continue to fight for those living with these challenging diseases.