Empowering Staff Nurses as Primary Educators to Children with Type 1 Diabetes
Patient and family education is a critical element of diabetes management. Manychildren with new onset type 1 diabetes present with symptoms of diabeticketoacidosis (DKA) and are hospitalized at diagnosis. These children and theirfamilies receive their initial education in the hospital setting. As soon as bloodglucose levels are stabilized and the acidosis is corrected, the patient is dischargedhome, usually within three days (Nettles, 2005). There is little time toprovide the skills and education, as well as emotional support, for a smooth transitionto home. It is a challenge to achieve these goals if the only resource personfor diabetes education is the clinical nurse specialist (CNS). The CNS for a 14-bed pediatric unit sought to expand the role of the bedside nurse to being the primaryeducator of patients with diabetes through education and support. All nursesattended an eight-hour workshop on diabetes. A DKA protocol was developedthrough multidisciplinary collaboration, and nurses were educated on this protocol.Additionally, the CNS organized a diabetes resource cart that contains thetools for diabetes education. The protocol and education materials wereuploaded in the Pediatric SharePoint site to make them accessible to nurses. Most importantly, the CNS developed a structured patient education plan that isoutcome-oriented, and based on review of current literature and practices in theunit. This initiative resulted in an increase in nursing confidence and expertiserelated to diabetes care as demonstrated by competencies met by nurses andanecdotal evidence from nurses and patientsí caregivers.