Faces of osteoporosis: meet the osteoporosis nurse specialist
30 Apr 2021
Colette Anderson writes about her role in the diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis, providing people with bone density scans.
I’ve been in the field of osteoporosis for 12 years, first as a bone density scan (DXA) operator then as the lead of my service. The main part of my role involves running a purpose-built unit that provides a bone density scanning service, osteoporosis treatment, and a fracture liaison service. It’s a varied role that includes running bone clinics with a consultant, requesting scans, checking referrals from GPs, and reporting on bone density scans.
Supporting people with their osteoporosis management is so rewarding
I provide support and guidance to people who are taking osteoporosis medications - checking that they’re happy with their treatments and that they’re effective, as well as ensuring people are monitored in a variety of ways, such as with blood tests. It’s lovely seeing the patients that visit our unit and it’s so rewarding being able to show them when their bone density is improving and their risk of breaking a bone is decreasing.
People always leave with information about how to improve their bone health
My unit is nurse led and I think this really helps our patients. They always leave with some information about how to improve their bone health – whether it’s a conversation about calcium-rich foods, exercise, or emphasising the importance of natural sunlight. We have a very open policy and people can contact us with their questions, which people find especially helpful when they’re about to start a treatment. We can ease any concerns and help people to understand what to expect.
I think my favourite part of the job is when someone has a positive experience, asks for you by name, and you can see that they’re benefitting from treatment – seeing their confidence increased and they’re living a fulfilled life, enjoying their favourite activities again.
It’s vital we raise awareness about the importance of bone health
It is so important to continue raising awareness of osteoporosis, and my one wish is to help people to avoid painful broken bones with increased awareness throughout the healthcare system. We support this as a team by ensuring our orthopaedics wards discharge patients with the appropriate medications and bone health checks to help prevent future broken bones.
My advice to people is not to ignore an invite to have a bone density check, especially if you are over the age of 50 and have broken a bone. It may save you from having further broken bones and help you find ways to enhance your bone health.