By: Jeanette Pretorius, BSN, MBA, RN-BC, NE-BC, OCN®, Congress Content Planning Team Member

Have you ever wondered how one drug can treat so many different conditions, such as glaucoma, nausea, seizures, muscle spasms, hypertension, anxiety, pain, depression, PTSD?  Has a patient ever asked you if there is a difference between medical and recreational marijuana? Would you know how to answer this question? If your patient told you today that he was considering medical marijuana as a treatment option, would you be able to adequately educate him on the benefits, risks and side effects?

We have been riding the medical marijuana wave since the mid-1990s but only a small portion of practitioners truly understand the properties of cannabis well enough to be considered experts.   In stark contrast, most patients who turn to this medicinal plant for symptom relief or disease treatment are often better schooled in the science of medical marijuana than the doctors and nurses who care for them.

As oncology nurses, we pride ourselves in knowing all there is to know about the treatment and care of patients with cancer. With medical marijuana becoming increasingly accepted as a legitimate treatment option for many of our patients, we owe it to them to be as knowledgeable about this topic as we are about chemotherapy, biotherapy, and radiation therapy.

Join us at the ONS 42nd Congress in Denver where two experts in their respective fields of nursing and pharmacy will present an informative and interactive crash course on medical marijuana. Explore the pharmacokinetics of this ancient herb with Jacquelyn Bainbridge, PharmD, as she details the complex interactions that result from the 400+ known chemicals contained within this plant. Learn about the different formulations and derivatives of cannabis that are now available to patients, along with the varying ways in which it can be absorbed into the body.

Then, take a step back and listen while Carey Clark, PhD, RN, AHN-BC, takes you on a guided tour as she shares her experiences and expertise in the use of medical marijuana from a nursing perspective. Delve into the nurse’s role as it relates to providing care to patients who use medical marijuana and review the essential elements of nursing assessments, diagnoses, care planning, interventions and evaluations.  Review the safety, legal and ethical concerns for both the bedside and advanced practice nurse.

By the end of this 90-minute session, you’ll leave with a better understanding of the science behind this treatment option as well as an appreciation of your role as your patient’s best and strongest advocate!

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