Nurse's New Normal
Jul 25, 2018 03:34PM
● By Debbie Hall
CANNABIS NURSES NETWORK FOUNDING MEMBER AND EDITOR JULIE MONTEIRO RN, BSK, KNOWN AS ASK NURSE JUHLZIE, REALIZED AS A YOUNG GIRL THAT SHE WAS GOING TO PURSUE A CAREER IN MEDICINE. SHE WANTED TO HELP PEOPLE, AND HER JOURNEY HAS SINCE TAKEN HER FROM DIRECT PATIENT CARE TO BLAZING A NEW TRAIL FOR THE NURSING PROFESSION.
Cannabis Nurses Network (CANNABISNURSESNETWORK.COM) supports and encourages nurses as they expand into cannabinoid therapeutics and other cannabis modalities as a medical specialty.
|The global network incorporates a new ideal in nursing. Nurses are the ones who know us inside and out, advocate on our behalf, hold the medical profession accountable, educate, comfort, and truly care. Now, thanks to the Cannabis Nurses Network, nurses are empowered to develop educational programs that include endocannabinoid system science and care, cannabinoid therapeutics, lifespan and diagnosis considerations, and incorporating cannabis therapeutics into the healthcare modality to offer additional treatments for holistic health and wellness.|
|According to a Gallup poll in 2017, for the 16th consecutive year, nurses outrank 21 other professions on honesty and ethics ratings.|
“Nurses lead the way as the most trusted healthcare providers,” states Monteiro. “Nurses are involved with all aspects of patient care including interacting with doctors, social workers, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals. I like to say in this industry, nurses are the ‘Gorilla Glue’ that is bridging the gap to our healthcare system. Patients are talking to nurses about cannabis and must be informed and educated on the science behind the plant in order to properly chart and inform patients correctly. Ignorance is not bliss and saying you are not in favor of this plant does not dismiss you from providing proper knowledge and care to patients. Misinformation on this plant due to prohibition needs to cease. We have the knowledge and research on the beneficial factors of this safe plant. We need to share that.”
This issue has awakened a new fervor in nurses, including many coming out of retirement to be a part of this new era of healthcare.
“Another reason nurses are coming back is because there is a shortage of nurses in general,” she states. Legalization has created added benefits for patients as more experienced nurses are in the field without having to worry about retribution over cannabis use.
Monteiro admits her passion developed when she became a patient herself. The path from childhood to activist/advocate began in Southern California. Born with what she calls “the caring gene,” Monteiro obtained her degree in kinesiology, the scientific study of body movement. She developed her expertise in the physiological, biomechanical, and psychological principles and mechanisms of mobility. Sports medicine fit her training, but soon Monteiro wanted to explore other healthcare fields. She decided nursing was a better fit and completed her education in Wyoming.
“I WORKED IN NEVADA AND SPOKE TO MANY NURSES. I WAS WARNED THAT MY INVOLVEMENT WITH CANNABIS WAS CAREER SUICIDE.”
She returned to Las Vegas where she once worked in the pediatric emergency room as a certified nursing assistant at University Medical Center in 1997. In 2006, she decided to further her pediatric experience at Sunrise Children’s Hospital to specialize in pediatric ER and trauma. She reminisces, “I loved it. I was so happy to be there and was at the top of my game in the clinical setting.”
|However, life as she knew it changed when Monteiro became very ill. Her prescribed pharmaceutical medication wasn’t alleviating her pain and suffering and, after some research, she discovered the benefits of cannabis. As her body slowed down, Monteiro left direct patient care. While cannabis helped in the healing process, she knew she could not return to nursing and continue using medicinal marijuana. It was illegal and drug testing was a regular part of her job requirements.|
While Nevada legalized medicinal cannabis in 2000, it would be thirteen years before dispensaries would open. The only recourse was to grow, cultivate, produce the plants at home, and determine the best dose herself. By 2010, Monteiro had learned which cannabis products were safe to use, attended meetings, and reached out to state legislators, which inevitably led her to better educate patients and healthcare professionals about its benefits.
“Learning about cannabis inspired me to advance to a new field in nursing that no one realized was even possible. I worked in Nevada and spoke to many nurses. I was warned that my involvement with cannabis was career suicide,” Monteiro states.
In 2013, Monteiro was deemed fully disabled and remained a patient in the healthcare system. Coping with multiple tragedies, PTSD, degenerative disc disease, neuropathy, herniated discs and chronic pain, she still continued as an advocate, activist, and educator. While at-tending a medical conference in 2014, she was presented the opportunity to speak with professionals from all over the country about challenges, obstacles, and concerns.
Her goal was to develop a network of nurses to support a new specialty of healthcare professionals treating patients with cannabis. She discovered nurses who were working in dispensaries, growing medicinal cannabis, working in testing labs, employed at cultivation centers, and consulting with patients one-on-one and with doctors. Monteiro was inspired to launch Cannabis Nurses Magazine to offer information and resources in one source. A nurse was featured on each cover to celebrate nurses stepping outside of the boundaries to embrace the new cannabis nursing frontier. That endeavor led to creating the Cannabis Nurses Network.
“The network is a complementary modality and resource to all cannabis nursing organizations and entrepreneurs. We insist on advocating for the health, well-being, and professional safety of nurses and patients embarking on their cannabis nurse journey. Seeing that need, being a nurse, and understanding how our nursing profession works, if there is something a patient needs, we as nurses must find a way to bridge the gap by finding a resource and providing a solution.”
Monteiro predicts an explosion in the cannabinoid therapeutic movement and will continue to advocate within the industry to expand her profession. Her ultimate goal is that cannabis becomes available to everyone, not just a select few. As she states, “Cannabis is here to stay. We want everyone to know about the wellness aspects this plant can offer.”