Skull Base Institute Home Page
Skull Base Brain Tumor Research

Nursing Frontiers: Community Outreach
M. Fe Mangila, R.N., N.P., C.S.-F.N.P.
Nicole Evans, R.N.

In the last issue of Headlines, we described the impact of the Internet on patient education and support. As more and more patients take advantage of the worlds of medical information at their fingertips, our involvement in the transmission of electronic information has also increased.

We correspond regularly with patients who reach out to Internet "chat rooms" for information and guidance. These are places on the Internet where computer users can join discussions on various subjects. We interact with patients who post messages to chat rooms dedicated to trigeminal neuralgia, pituitary tumors, brain tumors, and craniofacial syndromes.

Often these patients have simple and straightforward questions about medication dosages or side effects, diagnostic modalities, or therapeutic options for a given diagnosis. Even more often they are looking for an outlet where they can receive or offer encouragement to those in need. In other words, chat rooms have become a place where people turn to for both medical advice and interpersonal support.

We feel that this forum is a perfect place for us to help these patients. Due to our professional experience, we are able to offer advice that is medically well informed. We are able to alleviate some of the fears that patients express due to their unfa-miliarity with symptomatology, medications and their side effects, and events during recovery from surgeries. At the same time, our roles as patient advocates allow us to deliver this information in the same manner that we treat our patients in the hospital: compassionately.

We are looking forward to the upcom-ing Fourth Annual Skull Base Surgery Lectureship this fall, where we will share our experience with other nurses and nurse practitioners who will be in attendance. We will encourage them as well as the physicians who will be present to explore Internet medical resources and to refer their patients to the ones that they find to be informative and useful. As the global community becomes more accessible, both patients and practitioners stand to benefit from the increasing availability of information.