- Volume 9 | Spring-Summer 2012
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NACI Partner Profile
Continuing Education: Critical to Quality Asthma Care
“Even if you’re a very experienced clinician and see children with asthma daily, you still need education on the ever-changing medications and latest gadgets,” said Dolores C. Jones, Director of Practice, Education, and Research at the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP).
Taking medication as prescribed by a health care provider—typically, an inhaled corticosteroid for daily, long-term control and a short-acting beta2-agonist for quick relief of symptoms—is one of several actions included in a written asthma action plan. And having such a plan is one of six key actions that the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (NAEPP) is encouraging people with asthma and their families to take together with their clinician.
The very first step, however, is to be aware of which medications are most effective and best suited to a patient’s needs and preferences.
That’s why NAPNAP, a Strategic Partner of the National Asthma Control Initiative (NACI) for two years, held a special session on asthma medication during its March 2012 Annual Conference in San Antonio, TX.
“Six hundred people signed up for [the session],” said Ms. Jones. “Our trainer, Patricia—a pediatric nurse practitioner with the University of Texas-Arlington, near Dallas—said ‘Oh my gosh, you’ve got to be kidding me!’”
What was the reason for her surprise? There were 1,500 conference attendees. That means 40 percent of participants were interested in learning about asthma medications, including new formulations and packaging.
Jones attributes this interest to a growing awareness of asthma coupled with a desire to stay abreast of rapidly evolving asthma medication options.
As a NACI Strategic Partner, the Cherry Hill, New Jersey–based organization also established a Pediatric Asthma Education (PAE) Train-the-Trainer Program to strengthen the abilities of primary care providers to improve the health outcomes of children with asthma.
As part of this program, NAPNAP trained 46 clinicians from across the country to become pediatric asthma trainers (NPATs), with special emphasis on recruiting health care providers from medically underserved areas and areas with high asthma rates. Patricia with the University of Texas-Arlington was one of the NPATS.
The curriculum, created with pediatric asthma experts from NAPNAP and other professional organizations, focused on six key actions (drawn from NAEPP science-based guidelines) that people with asthma, their families, and clinicians could take as a team to improve asthma care and control. It also included strategies for rural, school, and adolescent populations.
Following the training, NPATs were tasked with disseminating what they learned by training additional pediatric health care professionals back home. And, despite the fact that the two-year NACI funding that made the training possible has come to an end, the work continues.
“The group is still closely connected through an online discussion forum that we established for them, post-training,” said Jones. “Questions are still being asked and answered, and stories are still being shared.”
One tidbit that Jones eagerly shares is that NAPNAP made the forum a more vibrant educational site by requiring faculty to post comments quarterly. This helped reenergize the conversation about the six key actions to improve asthma care and control and provided opportunities for different perspectives to be shared.
Jones also reports that many members of NAPNAP’s Asthma and Allergy Special Interest Group participated in the training and are considering keeping the forum up and active for the foreseeable future.