Meridian Health Group
Nurse anesthetist Jackie Rowles sees patients whose chronic pain has devastated their lives, forcing them from jobs and affecting their relationships. At Meridian Health Group, an inter-disciplinary pain management clinic in Carmel, Ind., Jackie works as part of a team that develops treatment plans to minimize pain and wean patients from addictive medications.
“A lot of people may never be pain free, but if we can keep their pain down, they can be productive members of society and get back to work. That’s our goal,” says Jackie, CRNA, MBA, FAAPM, who collaborates with psychiatrists, physicians, podiatrists, therapists, and other health professionals at the integrative clinic.
Jackie evaluates patients and provides pain treatment therapies, such as spinal injections with fluoroscopy (for imaging guidance), joint injections and peripheral nerve blocks. The difference between this job and her previous work in hospitals is her ability to work with patients long-term and monitor complex conditions to find the best multidisciplinary treatment pain management regimen.
“I like being part of a team and being a member with a lot of responsibility,” Jackie says, adding her job requires high-level assessment and decision-making abilities. “My education, knowledge and skill set have provided me the opportunity to have that level of responsibility. I always have to keep up on [clinical] education, new drugs, equipment and research. We’re working with patients at a time that’s very scary for them.”
Challenges include evaluating patients with a 20-year history of chronic pain with little success from past treatments, and engaging them in treatment plans. Insurance reimbursement policy causes frustration, especially when a medication is working but lack of insurance coverage makes the drug unaffordable.
A challenge for the profession is educating the public about what nurse anesthetists do, and their skill level and competencies. “People think we’re just helping a doctor, but we’re really providing the care for our patients, administering their anesthetics and managing their pain, putting them to sleep, and most importantly, waking them up."