At the May 2022 NAON Congress in Reno, NV, the Sunday morning symposium was titled “Building a Bone Health Clinic: Improving Osteoporosis & Post Fracture Care in a Level I Trauma Center.” A phenomenal group of speakers shared their work related to getting the best care for patients who sustain fractures. Their work reminds us that when we focus our collective efforts on improving the quality of care, we can have significant, positive, and lasting impact. Although multiple specialties such as women's health, nephrology, and endocrine have an interest in bone health, no specialty has made bone health their focus. Hence, we continue to search for someone to own the bone.
As I listened to the presentation, I had an epiphany. I am fully aware that my maturity in the profession likely contributed to my new thought. After years of hearing and thinking “Someone needs to own the bone,” my thought turned to “Just like everything else, nursing has to own the bone.... No wait ... Orthopaedic Nurses need to own the bone.” My perspective changed from “Who can do this?” to “We have to do this.” Given just a few more minutes to process my ideas, I thought “Wait! We are already owning the bone.”
After that day, I started collaborating with the speakers from the session and other bone enthusiasts whom I know through NAON. We have met regularly since May to understand how we Own the Bone and build out ideas for getting even more people involved in this important effort. We are engaging with American Bone Health and learning from their efforts, which are like ours. They are a public-facing organization, reaching beyond nursing and healthcare with the tag line, “We love bones! You should too.” We're exploring the potential for a strong partnership.
I need to look no further than my own experience to be reminded that no matter how much or how little you know about the bone, that frequent reminders to focus on bone health are very important for everyone. My dissertation study required me to dive deeply into bone mineralization and metabolism. I carefully combed the literature to study the factors that influence bone such as medications, exercise, diet, and medical conditions. I learned about different types of bone density studies and laboratory values to evaluate bone biomarkers. I had several years of learning about bone metabolism and how to measure it. During those years, I decided to train for and run the Chicago Marathon. Sounds like a great idea for a nursing graduate student, right?
Despite all my education, training, and application, after 4 months of training and my longest 20-mile run, I ended up with two stress fractures. I should probably be embarrassed that I am an orthopaedic nurse who was studying bone health while diagnosed with a femoral neck fracture and a fourth metatarsal fracture. However, I am telling this awkward story to demonstrate a point: My knowledge did not determine my behavior. As I have had time to reflect on my own experience and the efforts of our group of bone enthusiasts, I know there is an opportunity to change the narrative.
If orthopaedic nurses are going to own the bone, we must use our knowledge in our own lives to care for ourselves and in practice to benefit our patients. Our group of bone enthusiasts is actively working on ways for orthopaedic nurses to Own the Bone. Do you know your own risk for sustaining a fracture? Do you know how to work toward lowering your risk? Stay tuned for some opportunities to learn more about our own bone health behaviors as orthopaedic nurses and to see if our knowledge might influence our practice and our behaviors.
A few years ago, I received a gift from my sister-in-law. She gave me a bracelet that is engraved with “Live What You Love.” Lately I've been wearing the bracelet as a reminder of many things, not the least of which are bones. I invite you to share with NAON if you think orthopaedic nurses should own the bone, and ideas for expanding our knowledge and practice to advance bone health. I'd like to acknowledge the group of bone enthusiasts who have agreed to be on the journey: Lori Fitton, Matthew Watson, Hannah Hayes, Jessica Hickey, Patricia Donohue, Candy Mori, Robert Dills, Cheryl Hostinak, and Lisa Qualls. There is room for you, too! Send me an email, and I will send you the invite for our meeting.