MS specialist nurses in Switzerland work in three different organisational structures: in hospitals, in homecare services and at the Swiss Multiple Sclerosis Society.
They receive comprehensive training at vocational college (diploma) or university (Bachelor) level and have extensive practical experience in the area of MS. MS nurses perform many different tasks that vary depending on the type of organisation they work in.
- In hospitals, the nurses work in the field of neurology, usually in specialised MS depart-ments and outpatient clinics. Their tasks include supporting and advising MS patients on care-related issues, organising appointments and examinations, collecting blood samples, providing therapy-related instruction and guidance, and triage in other specialist disciplines. In addition, they often perform tasks in the area of MS research (research nurses).
- In homecare services, nurses are concerned primarily with instructing and supporting pa-tients during ongoing therapy, as well as triage for other MS specialists. Home visits put them in close contact with relatives and psychoeducational support is important.
- MS nurses of the Swiss Multiple Sclerosis Society, advise, instruct and support patients during therapy. Their main function is to inform, train and accompany patients, and con-nect them with MS specialists. They support patients, relatives and specialists in care-related and psychosocial matters in the area of MS, irrespective of the type of treatment.
MS nurses have a wide range of advanced skills, including general nursing care, MS therapeu-tics, paramedical therapies, symptom management, communication, counselling, psychosocial and psychoeducational coping strategies and empathy. The nurses are often the first point of contact for patients and their relatives.
Ongoing training is the responsibility of each nurse. A specific, recognised advanced training programme for MS does not yet exist. The Swiss MS-Society, in collaboration with the EMSP, is aiming to implement the recognised e-learning course ‘MS Nurse PROfessional’ with certificate in Switzerland by 2015.
Although specific care services are provided to MS patients, only some of the costs are covered by health insurance and only with a prescription. Other costs are covered indirectly by pharma-ceutical companies, depending on the treatment. Integrated management between hospital care and home care is still desirable.