Glytec, Nursing

Celebrating National Nurses Month and International Nurses Day Part One: Christine Dignan

Glytec joins the World Health Organization (WHO) the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and the American Nurses Association (ANA) in celebrating the Year of the Nurse in 2021. The ANA has expanded its annual National Nurses Week into National Nurses Month, which it’s celebrating all throughout May. And as it always does, ICN is celebrating International Nurses Day around the world on May 12 to commemorate the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. 

This year’s celebrations seek to reflect on the impact of COVID-19 on healthcare and the nursing profession to show the critical role nurses play in transforming the way care is delivered. As the largest healthcare profession, Nurses have an integral role and must have a voice in planning the future of healthcare.

In honor of the Year of the Nurse, Glytec’s Diabetes Nurse Specialist, Kerri Doucette, RN, RDN, CDCES, is conducting a three-part interview series with nursing professionals that have delivered outstanding clinical support in treating patients with diabetes and glycemic management issues.

Part one of our series is a conversation with Christine Dignan, BSN, RN, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES), Sentara Obici Hospital. Christine became a Registered Nurse (RN) in June 2014 and started as a Diabetes Educator in April 2016 for Sentara Heart Hospital focusing on Cardiac Surgery patients. She became a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) in December 2017 and transitioned to Sentara Obici Hospital in August 2018 to head up the diabetes education program there. She then became the Inpatient Diabetes Coordinator for Sentara Healthcare System from January 2019-December 2020. Christine holds her Bachelors Degree in Science of Food, Nutrition and Exercise (2002) and Bachelors in Nursing (2014). 

Kerri Doucette: Why is 2021 such an important time to raise the visibility of the critical role nurses have in delivering care and education for people struggling with glycemic management? 

Christine Dignan: This past year hospitals faced a multitude of struggles, often operating over capacity, and staffing enough nurses to care for patients was one of the main challenges. Nurses are the backbone of day-to-day operations of a hospital, so an insufficient number of nurses made handling the influx of patients very challenging.

Adding to staffing shortages, the complexities of the coronavirus highlighted the need for more education on the role glycemic management plays in patient care, and the tools available for nurses to augment the care they provide.

Several research studies correlated increased morbidity and mortality related to poor diabetes management during hospitalization for Covid-19. This research went beyond studying how diabetes affected treatment of the virus, adding to the evidence that glycemic management is crucial for patients without diabetes as well.

Now that we are seeing a decline in cases and can build on staffing to improve quality of care for patients with diabetes, we can turn our focus back to educating nursing staff on the role they can play in managing glycemic management for patients during hospitalization and the impact poor diabetes management has on patient outcomes. If we do not tackle this in 2021, we will miss the opportunity to educate nurses and staff on the connection between glycemic management and infectious diseases.  

We need to strike while the iron is hot and get the necessary information and education to nurses in order to prepare for the future and build a foundation that works to improve glycemic management in patients for years to come. 

KD: What are some examples of your hospital or health system embracing glycemic management technology to empower its nursing staff? 

CD: We have been working with Glytec to integrate Glucommander with our Epic system. Once orders are placed for Glucommander, the orders will automatically be set up in the software to prevent errors made through transcribing the information. Additionally, Glucommander helps streamline nurse workflow. By automatically transferring insulin dose recorded in the MAR into Glucommander, it eliminates the need for nurses to manually complete the process. We are hopeful that once this integration is complete, we will see a large increase in the number of transitions from IV to SubQ Glucommander and amplified utilization of SubQ Glucommander for treatment, providing improvements for Glycemic control and simplifying diabetes management for nurses. Glucommander allows for flexibility of dosing insulin based on a patient’s food consumption, without contacting the provider for assistance. This empowers nursing staff to feel confident in assisting patients to maintain glycemic control.  

KD: The theme of this year’s International Nurses’ Day is to highlight the ways nurses are innovating and provide a glimpse into what the future of nursing may look like. Given the developments and innovations over the past year, how do you see the role of the nurse evolving in terms of glycemic management? 

CD: There is a lot of uncertainty of what the future of nursing will look like, especially because experts are predicting continued nursing shortages. Consequently, if the current ratios of patients to nurses persists, it will be tremendously challenging to take on delivering proper assistance of glycemic management.

Having nurses recommend Glucommander to providers to assist with glycemic control will be crucial. The way Glucommander helps adjust to a patient’s needs automatically – without physician intervention or manual protocols – will be an essential tool as patient ratios remain a challenge.

It’s crucial for nurses to proactively make the recommendation for providers to acquire Glucommander to aid nurses’ efforts in supporting patient’s glycemic levels. In my opinion, the future of nursing will depend on technology to assist with diabetes management. Given the potential for an increased number of patients and less time to contact providers, glycemic management in the hospital will have to rely on supporting technology.

Click here for part two of the series with Lorraine Porcaro, MS-DEDM, RN, CDCES, BC-ADM, Diabetes Clinical Manager at Garnet Health Medical Center’s Dunkelman Diabetes Center. For part three with Christina Averbeck, RN, Inpatient Diabetes Care & Education Specialist at Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, click here.

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