Nurses today are in an optimal position to help pharmaceutical companies. According to the American Nurses Association, nursing professionals have high levels of trust in terms of consumer perception for the past 15 years, and nursing reliability and expertise is recognized within the healthcare profession.
Yet the critical functions of nurses within the pharmaceutical industry can be easily overlooked in comparison to traditional clinical positions. That’s despite the fact that nurses play vital roles in communicating information both to and from the patient in pharmaceutical settings.
For example, a nurse health coach delivers key information and support to the patient during medication adherence and patient engagement programs. Likewise, nurses on pharmacovigilance (PV) teams process information from the patient, applying their analytical skills and clinical knowledge to improve the safety profile of a drug or device.
Both the patient engagement and PV nursing roles necessitate empowerment and smart decision-making. Research demonstrates that empowered nurses empower patients, resulting in improved outcomes. Nurses within the PV sector need to be empowered to make the best decisions given the information at hand.
Bringing their best work
On a typical day, a nurse on a PV team may receive and review safety information from a variety consumer and healthcare professional sources. Using clinical and analytical expertise, the PV nurse summarizes the information and submits safety data for pharma representatives’ assessment against the safety profile of their drug or device. PV nurses are also a resource for investigative sites with respect to reporting safety information that protects consumers. Soliciting and processing follow-up information is a key responsibility of PV nurses to ensure that pharma companies, regulatory authorities, healthcare professionals, and patients have complete information regarding the safety of consumer drugs and devices.
At every step of the way, PV nurses should be empowered to do their best work. This starts with their clinical expertise. I encourage the nurses on my team to build upon their clinical experience to better understand disease processes or conditions beyond what is apparent at the “surface level.” As part of that process to dig deeper, nurses need to understand the gray areas and be prepared to navigate murky waters. That involves knowing what is important to extract from the data they receive and applying the right analytical skills, in addition to using their clinical background knowledge.
What’s the benefit?
While in a conventional sense PV nurses may not be considered for their significant role in disease education and awareness, they certainly serve a crucial role as protectors of the consumer. Their work affects research processes and outcomes that will influence disease or condition management in the years to come. The work done and the information processed by the PV nurse have the power to improve drugs and devices, change clinical practice, and improve patient safety outcomes.
In the end, nurses within every role — whether pharma or clinical, health coaching or PV — play a vital role in our healthcare system. Pharmaceutical companies should leverage the vast experience and knowledge nurses can bring to the table. Empowered nurses are powerful agents of change that have positive effects on the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, and within society at large.