What Scope and Standards of Practice should Cannabis Nurses follow?

The Australian Cannabis Nurses Association (ACNA) have unveiled new Cannabis Nursing Scope and Standards of Practice to support the growing role medicinal cannabis nurses are playing in providing safe and effective treatment products for patients.

Launched at the 2023 United in Compassion Australian Medicinal Cannabis Symposium’s Nurses’ Conference, held last Friday in Brisbane, the document outlines the core values of a cannabis nurse, as well six standards of practice for the speciality.

According to ACNA, more and more Australian nurses are interested in learning about the endocannabinoid system and the treatments available for it. It’s why it believes it is critical to provide the profession with education, leadership and practice pathways for endocannabinoid nursing.

Medicinal cannabis products, such as oils and flowers, are not registered in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) but may be prescribed to patients in Australia, subject to approval by the (TGA) under the Special Access Scheme (SAS-B) or Authorised Prescriber Scheme (APS). At the moment, Nurse Practitioners (NPs) are the only nurses allowed to prescribe medicinal cannabis.

The core values of a medicinal cannabis nurse are to support, educate and lead healthcare consumers toward a maximal state of homeostasis through the upregulation of the endocannabinoid system by supporting wellness and healing through an informed and caring presence, the document states. This includes placing a high value on education and knowledge across multiple areas, as well as constantly advocating for healthcare consumers’ legal right to use medicinal cannabis therapeutically.

Overarching core values of Australian Cannabis Nurses include:

  • Keeping up to date with evidence-based practice and dispelling misinformation
  • Supporting patient care
  • Working as an integral member of an Interprofessional healthcare team
  • Holistic-based practice that puts patient needs first

The document also outlines six key Standards of Practice for Cannabis Nurses.

  1. Assessment

“The medicinal cannabis nurse collects relevant data and information related to the patient’s health, needs and concerns. The cannabis nurse uses the health and wellness model of assessment to ensure that data collection is performed with compassion, caring and respect. Nurses working with medical cannabis have the responsibility to collaborate, assess and identify a therapeutic need with a reasonable expectation of clinical efficacy and benefit for the patient.”

  1. Care Planning

The medicinal cannabis nurse clearly identifies expected outcomes for an individualised plan related to the patient’s unique situation, the standard states.

Competencies include identifying expected outcomes, working with patients to prioritise goals around the use of medicinal cannabis, and supporting patients’ titration plans.

  1. Implementation

“The medicinal cannabis nurse supports the patient in the implementation and the delivery of care. The medical cannabis nurse has a responsibility to be aware of the differences in types of medicines used, products associated with administration, routes, and procedures.”

This includes engaging with patients, co-ordinating care as needed, and monitoring the patient for adverse effects.

  1. Evaluation

Medicinal cannabis nurses should evaluate progress and therapeutic response to cannabinoid treatments using evidence-based tools and assessment frameworks.

  1. Ethics

According to ACNA, medicinal cannabis nurse practice ethically within health optimisation and harm minimisation frameworks. They have a responsibility to be aware of the differences in types of medicines used, products associated with administration, routes, and procedures.

  1. Advocacy

Medicinal cannabis nurses should demonstrates patient advocacy and support their voice.

This includes recommending appropriate levels of care, taking part in health initiatives on behalf of patients and the systems where nursing occurs, and empowering all members of the interprofessional healthcare team to include the patient in care decisions.

“Nurses working with medical cannabis have a self-responsibility to maintain professional development and educa4on ac4vi4es each year relevant to the endocannabinoid system and medical cannabis. It is acknowledged that the endocannabinoid system is currently a novel concept in nursing educa4on in Australia.”

Read the full document here

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