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NLB Members Convene for the 19th Meeting of Impact and Innovation 

Myeloma nurse experts collaborate to support nurses and empower patients at “NLB XIX” 

By Diane Moran, IMF Senior Vice President, Business Relationship Management 

 

Members of the IMF Nurse Leadership Board (NLB) gathered in Dallas, TX, from September 8 to 10 for “NLB XIX.” 

“We are thrilled to come together for the 19th meeting of the NLB,” expressed Beth Faiman, a founding member and co-chair of the meeting. “The NLB’s unwavering mission is to enhance both the nursing care and self-care of patients with myeloma. As treatments continue to evolve, the needs of myeloma patients and the nurses who care for them also evolve. The NLB seeks to address these evolving needs.” 

The NLB was established by the IMF in 2006 as the pioneering professional partnership to advocate for oncology nurses specializing in myeloma patient care. NLB nurses are integral to all facets of the IMF’s activities, including Patient & Family Seminars (PFS), Regional Community Workshops (RCW), teleconferences and webinars, and support groups. They actively contribute to IMF publications, and also offer valuable feedback on the IMF website myeloma.org

Each year, the NLB convenes an annual meeting to focus on key areas: 

  • Acknowledging and celebrating NLB accomplishments from the past year, 
  • Engaging in presentations and discussions that address evolving and unmet needs in myeloma, 
  • Planning and collaborating on future NLB projects. 

The agenda for the annual NLB meeting is determined by surveying members about the unmet needs of myeloma patients. The expertise of the NLB faculty and input from stakeholders, including patients, help identify projects and generate meeting content. 

The NLB working groups hold breakout sessions during the meeting, then work on their projects over the year. 

The 2023–2024 working groups are described below: 

  • Shared decision-making in myeloma treatment: To advance the reach of the shared decision-making tip card by collecting data and writing an article for nurses or advanced practitioners. 
  • Immunotherapy symptom management: To enhance the ability of nurses to manage immunotherapy-related symptoms by creating tools and writing an article for a nursing journal. 
  • Bridging therapy and T-cell harvest: To enhance the ability of nurses to understand the role and types of bridging therapies in myeloma, as well as best practices for T-cell harvest, by creating tools and writing an article for a nursing journal. 
  • Transitions of care best practices: To enhance the ability of nurses to manage and explain transitions of care in myeloma, create nurse tools, and write an article for a nursing journal. 
  • Care partner initiatives: To enhance resources for care partners by creating tip cards, reviewing and creating content on the IMF website, and writing an article about the evolving role of care partners in myeloma for a nursing journal. 
  • Clinical trial diversity: To build and implement the NLB provider and patient tools, collect data, and write an article for a nursing journal. 
  • Patient education: To create modular content that can be used by support groups, and to update the patient education materials for PFS and RCW meetings. 
  • Nurse-led research: To identify and plan research projects that enhance care of myeloma patients, and publish abstracts or articles based on the research findings. 

“Over the course of the NLB’s 17-year history, we’ve touched the lives of thousands of nurses and directly or indirectly impacted hundreds of thousands of patients and care partners,” said Tiffany Richards, a long-standing NLB member and co-chair of the meeting. “We’ve authored journal supplements, articles, and textbooks. Last year, we published a case-based supplement in the Journal of the Advanced Practitioner in Oncology (JADPRO) to educate nurses on a variety of therapies, including cellular therapies, and provide them with continuing education credits (CME). The very first myeloma textbook for nurses was conceived and authored by NLB nurses and is now in its third edition.” 

Tiffany emphasized the importance of the annual symposia at the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Congress as a platform to educate nurses about evolving myeloma treatments and the changing needs of myeloma patients. The program is available virtually and provides CME credits through Medscape. Immunotherapies like CAR T-cell therapies and bispecific antibodies add to the treatment options for myeloma patients and complement the established therapies that are the foundation of myeloma treatment. 

Dr. Brian G.M. Durie, Chairman of the International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG), provided updates on “Creating the Science Behind the Cures.” He talked about the IMWG’s efforts to establish minimal residual disease (MRD) testing as a critical endpoint in myeloma clinical research. Dr. Durie emphasized the importance of highly sensitive testing methods like mass spectrometry and next-generation flow. Peripheral blood testing, while in its early stages for myeloma, may complement other testing methods and reduce the need for bone marrow samples. Dr. Durie explained how achieving deep responses by eradicating myeloma cells to extremely low levels (1 myeloma cell per 10-to-100 million cells) may lead to potential “cure.” He also noted the significance of distinguishing different types of residual disease after intensive therapy, some of which may resemble monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), and highlighted the work of the IMF’s Black Swan Research Initiative® (BSRI®) to make identifying disease with an MGUS-like phenotype accessible in clinical care. 

Beth and Tiffany led a thoughtful discussion regarding recent research advancements in myeloma from a nursing perspective, including the approval of three bispecific antibodies for myeloma and the promising potential for CAR T-cell therapy to become available in earlier lines of therapy. NLB members underscored he importance of providing support for patients with education and management of potential side effects associated with these groundbreaking therapies, and pointed out that some treatments may only be accessible with the necessary care partner support.  

In certain cases, patients may need to transition to specialized centers to receive treatment or their initial doses before returning for ongoing care in their community setting. Nurses in the community need support to understand new therapies and be able to care for patients receiving them. These transitions could pose challenges and might exacerbate existing healthcare disparities, making diversity and access initiatives all the more important. 

In the context of new therapies, NLB members discussed the significance of incorporating shared decision-making into the treatment process. Novel treatments offer additional options alongside established therapies, which continue to play a vital role in extending the lives of myeloma patients. 

“Our passion for improving the nursing care and self-care of patients with myeloma remains unwavering,” expressed Beth in closing. “Our 2023–2024 projects will be pivotal in advancing this mission. We eagerly anticipate sharing our progress throughout the upcoming year.” 

Visit nlb.myeloma.org to learn how the NLB is improving the nursing care and self-care of patients with myeloma via publications, symposia, multimedia, and research. 

(This article was published in the 2023 Fall Edition of the IMF's quarterly publication, Myeloma Today. Read the full publication here.) 

 

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