Professor Sarah Ryan

POSTPONED | The Road to Specialist Practice: The Evolution of Rheumatology Nursing Synopsis

Professor of Rheumatology Nursing

Rheumatology encompasses the support of patients with musculoskeletal conditions, including arthritis, osteoporosis and uncommon auto-immune conditions such as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. In the 1980s, rheumatology nursing was in its infancy: there were no specialist roles, no nurse prescribers and limited patient involvement in care. The reduction in junior doctors’ hours provided an impetus for redefining multi-disciplinary services, including the development of nursing roles. Nurses began taking on new roles such as monitoring the safety and effectiveness of drug therapy, supporting patients to manage symptoms such as pain, fatigue and low mood, and administering joint injections. To enhance accessibility for patients, nurse-led telephone helplines were created and these remain an integral part of the role today. A crucial factor in these developments has been academic underpinning. Such underpinning includes evaluation of the effectiveness of role changes, exploration of new roles and, particularly important, academic rigour in the education and support of nurses undertaking these roles. In this lecture I will journey along the road to specialist nursing practice detailing my own involvement and collaborations with other members of the rheumatology community. There will be particular emphasis on the development of nursing roles to deliver evidence based contemporary care that equates with our understanding of the needs and management of patients with these rheumatological conditions.


sarah-ryan-web Professor Sarah Ryan is Professor of Rheumatology Nursing at the Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. This innovative post is partly funded by the Haywood Foundation, a local arthritis charity. Sarah’s clinical role involves supporting patients to manage the impact of chronic musculoskeletal pain. Sarah is course director for the MSc in Rheumatology Practice at Keele University. Sarah became a fellow of the Royal College of Nursing in 2003. Sarah’s research interests have focused on patient and professional education. Sarah is editor of Musculoskeletal Care.


Event date
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Westminster Theatre, Chancellor's Building
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01782 734036