We want to wish all neurology nurses out there a happy National Nurses Week! Nurses are facing unique challenges right now, whether they are on the front lines or not.

We spoke with neurology nurse practitioner Calli Cook to get some insight into how COVID-19 has impacted her and other nurses in neurology. Like many healthcare providers dealing with the coronavirus, Cook is working from her home (in Georgia), primarily treating patients via telemedicine.

“Every healthcare professional is going above and beyond to meet the call during this public health emergency: nurses, nurse practitioners, PAs, physicians, and respiratory therapists,” she says. “I just think that is amazing and I’m very grateful to work with a group of people who are so willing to put others in front of themselves. It’s an incredible time to watch my colleagues’ responses and see how much great work they’re doing.”

The following are edited excerpts from our phone conversation.

NI: What are the ways that giving care has changed for nurses and other advanced practice providers (APPs) in neurology?

Cook: One of the biggest things that we’re seeing is the increasing use of telemedicine, and I think that is a change for a lot of people. There are also a lot of APPs who have varied experiences, whether they’ve worked in the emergency department or an ICU setting and those people with those skill sets are being redeployed to different settings.

NI: What resources are available to help nurses with these issues?

Cook: The American Academy of Neurology has excellent resources. If a nurse practitioner is saying, “How do I implement telemedicine?” we have the resources to help them do that and to do that efficiently. We have the things that they need, whether they’re being redeployed to a different setting or just want to brush up on CME. The entire 2019 On Demand, which covered the entire annual conference, is free to members now.

NI: How has your practice adapted to the switch to telemedicine?

Cook: My patients tend to really like it because we are in a rural state. They are able to do these visits from their home and access me remotely, and they overall have a kind of positive outlook on it. I can get a lot of information out of the telemedicine exam, but it is a change and change can be hard. We had some of the groundwork already set up for telehealth, so we weren’t starting from scratch. I think for the practices starting from scratch, it can be overwhelming.

NI: Do you think patients will want telemedicine to continue after the pandemic is over?

Cook: You know, even I saw my dermatologist via telehealth this morning. And I was thinking, “Do I ever have to come back into the office? This is so much better.” So, as a telemedicine patient and provider, I definitely see patients saying, “I’m a busy person. I have a lot of things going on and this is so much more convenient for me.”

I don’t know that once things get better we’ll want to be going out as much as we did. I think there is always going to be this concern that you could become sick if things get bad again. So, sitting in a very crowded waiting room if you are immunocompromised – I could see a lot of patients not wanting to do that.

NI: What have these virus-related changes taught you so far?

Cook: We’re learning that high-quality care can be delivered multiple ways. I think we have to understand what works best for each patient’s situation. For some patients, it may not be driving into metro Atlanta every three months. You really need to think about what patients want out of their care experience to make sure that treatment plans are adhered to. We have a new understanding of what quality care can look like.

Calli Cook NP, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, is a nurse practitioner specializing in the care of neurological patients at Emory Physician Group Practice. She is also chair of the Consortium of Neurology Advanced Practice Providers for the American Academy of Neurology (AAN).

We have interviewed her for several other stories:

  • Neurology APPs Have Officially Arrived: Should You Consider Adding One to Your Practice?
  • Getting APPs Up to Speed in Neurology
  • Should Neurologists View APPs as Assets or Competitors in Practice?