Selecting, training and supervising nurses to treat depression in the medically ill: experience and recommendations from the SMaRT oncology collaborative care trials.
Wanat M., Walker J., Hodges L., Richardson A., Sharpe M.
OBJECTIVE: Collaborative care programs to treat comorbid depression in the medically ill often have general (nonpsychiatric) nurses care managers. In this paper, we aim to provide practical recommendations for their selection, training and supervision. METHODS: Based on more than 10 years of experience of selecting, training and supervising general nurses to deliver a highly effective collaborative care programme called "Depression Care for People with Cancer," we describe the problems encountered and the solutions adopted to optimize the selection, training and supervision of nurse care managers. RESULTS: To select nurses for the role of care manager, we found that role plays enabled us to assess nurses' ability to interact with distressed patients and their capacity for self-reflection better than simple interviews. To train the nurses, we found that a structured program that mirrored the treatment manual and included simulated practice was best. To achieve effective supervision, we found that having sessions led by senior psychiatrists facilitated both constructive feedback to the nurses and effective review of the management of cases. CONCLUSIONS: We recommend that the selection, training and supervision of general nurses use the strategies outlined if they are to maximize the benefit that patients achieve from collaborative care programs.