South Dakota State University College of Nursing Instructor Nicole Carlson recently participated in the Edmond J. Safra Visiting Nurse Faculty Program at the Parkinson’s Foundation.
The 40-hour accredited program is designed to improve nursing care in Parkinson’s disease by training nurse faculty leaders who in turn, prepare students to fight the disease on the front lines. She and four other faculty members from across the nation participated in the program at the Struthers Parkinson’s Center in Golden Valley, Minnesota.
While gerontology wasn’t in Carlson’s initial career plans, she ended up working with geriatric patients and fell in love with the field.
Carlson spent two days learning various aspects of Parkinson’s disease from the center’s neurologists, therapists and nurses. She then was paired with a neurologist and saw firsthand how one would diagnose and treat a Parkinson’s patient. Carlson eventually spent a day with a family as she followed a patient through the various therapies.
“I went into it looking to learn information to better educate my students—However, the knowledge I gained was far beyond my expectations,” said Carlson, who will also present her knowledge to peers later this semester. “I learned so much and have been able to implement a lot of it already in clinicals. I’m able to educate students about patients with Parkinson’s disease and can inform them about specific components related to the disease, such as movement and speech alterations.”
Carlson would also like to visit area hospitals, health-care clinics and nursing homes to share her insights on Parkinson’s.
“Unfortunately, not a lot of people understand Parkinson’s, so it was nice to visit a whole clinic devoted to caring for patients with that particular disease,” Carlson said. “The presenters’ passion for the Parkinson’s population was great to experience as was being able to see the advances being made in that area.”