Medical-surgical nurses play a crucial role in recognizing, preventing, and treating malnutrition. To emphasize their importance in enteral nutrition delivery, the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN) and the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN), an AMSN Practice Partner, launched a video series earlier this year, with support from Abbott Nutrition.
The first video, “Elevating the Nurse’s Role in the Optimization of Enteral Nutrition for Improved Patient Outcomes,” focuses on how nurses, with the help of enteral nutrition protocols, can improve patient outcomes, prevent complications, and prevent and treat malnutrition. A companion practice tool, “Key Role of the Nurse in Enteral Nutrition Delivery,” details the nurse’s role and provides a list of publications to further their knowledge. The second video, “Interprofessional Collaboration in Enteral Nutrition Delivery,” explains the vital nurse-dietitian partnership in optimizing enteral nutrition delivery and preventing complications.
The resources were developed in response to calls from nurses for more information. According to Peggi Guenter, PhD, RN, FASPEN, special projects consultant at ASPEN, “We have heard from many sources, including our own ASPEN nurses, other nursing organizations, and our industry partners, that nurses need more basic information on tube feeding. Last year, ASPEN and AMSN, along with Abbott Nutrition, participated in a focus group that identified enteral nutrition as a knowledge gap.” AMSN member Beth Quatrara, DNP, RN, CMSRN, ACNS-BC, an assistant professor at the University of Virginia School of Nursing, says, “AMSN nurses have shared their desire to better understand nutrition practices. We’ve heard this consistent message at conferences and through the recent focus group session.”
The focus group identified a level of discomfort among nurses about tube feeding due to lack of use, shortages of stock, and changes of tube-feed products, among other things. The session also touched on the need for more education on tube feeding, engaging nurses in nutrition decisions, and partnering with dietitians for their own benefit as well as the patient’s.
A focus on nutrition is important among medical-surgical nurses, given that malnourished patients are at risk for complications and have poorer outcomes and higher healthcare costs, Quatrara and Guenter say. “Medical-surgical nurses are constantly looking to improve quality of care metrics, and addressing malnutrition can help,” Quatrara says. Guenter adds, “Med-ical-surgical nurses are key in recognizing, preventing, and treating malnutrition, often with enteral nutrition therapy.”
They noted that the resources already have been shared with nearly 160,000 clinicians, primarily nurses. Ideally, these resources will be shared broadly in practice meetings, staffing meetings, and elsewhere to close the knowledge gap.
As for future resources, Quatrara says, “We welcome other ideas and opportunities to help integrate nutritional care as a priority nursing intervention.” Meanwhile, Guenter says, “A full manuscript on the basics of enteral nutrition for medical-surgical nursing is in draft and should be ready to submit by August or September.” Additionally, AMSN members are encouraged to check out ASPEN’s full list of free enteral nutrition resources to expand their practice in the nutrition space.