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More MS news articles for July 2003

First Recipients Chosen for the John Dystel Nursing Fellowship in MS Program

July 22 , 2003

The National MS Society is pleased to announce the first two winners of the Society sponsored John Dystel Nursing Fellowship in MS award, a pioneering, six-month education program designed to give nurses an opportunity to learn more about the unpredictable effects of MS and how to improve the quality of care for the more than 400,000 Americans living with the disease.

Lisa Kay Nesler of Chesterfield, Missouri was one of two registered nurses selected among the pool of applicants. She holds her BS in nursing from Illinois State University at Normal and has had numerous years of experience working on a neurological hospital floor as a staff nurse. Since July of 2002, she has served as a patient care manager and staff nurse beside an MS nurse specialist at the West County MS Center in St. Louis, Missouri.

Her fellowship commenced on June 1, 2003 at the St. Louis-based center, which provides comprehensive care to 1,000 MS patients. There she is working under the tutelage of preceptor Mary Kay Fink, MSN, Advanced Clinician Coordinator, who has designed a training program giving Nesler exposure to direct and indirect care as well as multidisciplinary care. Other areas of her training program include educational activities such as lectures, conferences and National MS Society programs.

Over and above Nesler's desire to enhance her nursing skills, she was drawn to apply for this fellowship because she knows firsthand the devastating effects multiple sclerosis can cause. Nesler's stepfather, now 65, was diagnosed with MS at the age of 35. Now her stepsister, 29, has also been diagnosed with MS about five years ago.

Lancaster, New York resident Daniel Monroe was also chosen as one of the first recipients of the fellowship award. Monroe is currently pursuing his Master's degree in nursing as a family nurse practitioner at D'Youville College in Buffalo, after having received his BS in nursing from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2001. Monroe initially learned of the program by sheer happenstance, when one of his professors at D'Youville passed around a circular about the fellowship.

Together with the knowledge and skills he has acquired through nursing school, his competence in the field also comes from working as a staff nurse. Monroe came to the nursing profession relatively late in his career path, at the age of 35, after first serving as a volunteer firefighter during his late teens, an electrical engineer, a martial arts instructor and an assistant scuba diving instructor.

Monroe's fellowship will begin in January of 2004 at the Jacobs Neurological Institute-Baird MS Research Center, a facility with an international reputation of caring for MS patients and furthering research to help better understand the disease. Dr. Colleen Miller, a nurse practitioner and clinical instructor at SUNY who has had 12 years experience working with MS patients, will act as a preceptor for Monroe, lending her expertise in MS disease management, assessment, patient/family education, as well as in physical medicine, speech therapy, social services, and more. Monroe will also attend National MS Society programs and conduct independent research, which will culminate with a publishable paper based on his fellowship experience.

The fellowship is the first one of its kind, offering a way for healthcare professionals to learn the skills and knowledge necessary to understand the panoply of symptoms patients with MS face, an area often not covered by traditional education programs. The driving force behind the nursing fellowship is Oscar Dystel and his wife, Marion who established the program as a gift of love for their son, John, who recently passed away in June of 2003 after a long and disabling battle with MS. It is their hope that this fellowship will help to make up for the current lack of MS-trained nurses, and consequently enhance the care of other individuals struggling with the effects of the disease.

"Multiple sclerosis is a very variable and complex disease, and people with MS require comprehensive and sophisticated interventions," says Dr. Nancy Holland, vice president of Clinical Program at the National MS Society and director of the fellowship program. "The John Dystel MS Nursing Fellowship prepares nurses to provide the necessary range of care, including education and psychological support, which will have an enormous positive impact on the quality of life of their patients and families living with MS."

All registered nurses are encouraged to apply for next year's fellowship program. Applications are currently being accepted and must be received at the Society by February 2, 2004 for consideration. Notification of awards will be made on April 16, 2004 and the fellowship will begin on June 1, 2004. For more details about the program, including eligibility and training components, and to download an application, visit our Professional Resource Center.

Copyright © 2003, The National Multiple Sclerosis Society