What it’s Like Being a Multiple Sclerosis Specialist Nurse

According to a story from Nursing Times, Claire Naisbitt is one of three multiple sclerosis specialist nurses that treat patients that reside in the Teesside community. She first took the job last November, but her decision to get into nursing goes back to her grandfather, whom she helped take care of when he was sick. It was her grandfather that suggested she get into nursing, and when he passed away, she decided to go for it to honor his memory.

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is a neurological disease which is characterized by damage to the myelin sheath, an fatty, insulating, protective covering that surrounds nerve cells and allows the to communicate effectively. Although a precise cause has not been determined, multiple sclerosis is considered an autoimmune disease, in which a certain trigger, such as an infection, may cause the immune system to mistakenly attack healthy tissue. Smoking and certain genetic variants are also considered risk factors for the disease. Symptoms include blurred vision, double vision, blindness in one eye, numbness, abnormal sensations, pain, muscle weakness, muscle spasms, difficulty speaking and swallowing, mood instability, depression, loss of coordination, and fatigue. There are a number of treatments available for the disease, but no cure. Life expectancy for patients is slightly reduced. To learn more about multiple sclerosis, click here.

Claire’s Story

Claire’s position was made possible thanks to fundraising from the MS Trust. This multiple sclerosis focused charity operates a specialty nurse program that seeks to improve access to specialty care for multiple sclerosis patients. Prior studies have found that two thirds of patients in the UK do not have regular access to specialty treatment for multiple sclerosis.

For Claire, the decision to get into multiple sclerosis care was mostly a matter of opportunity as she saw neurology related positions when she began seeking employment. One of the benefits for both Claire and her patients is the fact that she will have the opportunity to see the same patients throughout much of their lives.

“We’re with the patients from diagnosis…and we might know the patients for many years.” – Claire Naisbitt, MS specialty nurse

Claire’s multiple sclerosis patients are able to reach out at any time through phone or email, and she also provides patients with educational materials and emotional support. She says that self-care is an important need for such an emotionally demanding position.

“It’s important to talk to colleagues about any issues you have,” Claire says.

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