Teresa Woods, RN works as a full-time Clinical Educator for VMS BioMarketing. She attended Indiana University and worked in the law field for many years. Before coming to VMS, she was a paralegal but, at age 48, she followed a different calling. Teresa went back to school to become a nurse and passed her boards in May 2014. She began working at VMS shortly after. Having suffered from a chronic illness herself, Teresa brings the voice of the patient to everything she does. In fact, she wishes she had received the one-on-one nursing support the VMS team provides to patients every day.
What do you do at VMS?
I initially started working at VMS as a nurse navigator providing telephonic patient education for subjects enrolled in a phase III clinical trial. Our team of nurses helped patients learn how to take a self-injectable drug for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis and provided motivation to stay on therapy throughout the trial. Following that, I began working on a different team to provide patient education for an autoimmune medication.
How does the education you provide have a positive impact on a patient's ability to start and stay on therapy?
I sincerely believe the relationship I build with my patients is something we both invest in. I believe showing concern and empathy, as well as providing information and tools to manage their condition, really empowers patients to do their best. Patients do better when they are informed, have resources to find answers to their questions, and feel supported by the healthcare community. Empowered patients feel more confident in their therapies, and that confidence leads to adherence.
How does what you do help physicians feel more confident prescribing a complex therapy?
Complex medications can be overwhelming for patients, and for those patients to be successful in adherence, they need support, information, and guidance. Most physicians don't have the time available for this, and I believe that's where we come in. I believe a physician would feel much more comfortable prescribing complex therapies knowing there was a nursing support system available to guide patients, answer their questions, and take the time to listen. By listening, you can pinpoint specific barriers that arise and address them. We educate, we empower, and we show we sincerely care. When patients respond well to prescribed medications, physicians are more confident in prescribing them in the future. I believe we provide a valuable bridge between the patient and the physicians.
What first motivated you to become a Clinical Educator?
I've been a patient for many years and had to navigate different doctors, different medications, the loss of my health and the fear (and even apathy) that comes with that. I've been on biologics, and I know how scary they can be without the proper education. In all the years I've had to deal with a chronic illness, I never once had the opportunity to have one-on-one nurse support. I think it would have helped me tremendously and alleviated some of the fear and isolation I went through. When I saw the job posting at VMS for an educator-where I would be helping others with the same condition I suffer from-I jumped on it!
What do you enjoy about working at VMS?
Although I did not have many years of clinical experience at the time I came to work here, I certainly brought the patient perspective. I'm still amazed that I work for VMS. I'm so grateful the company saw my value and gave me this opportunity. Every day, I get to talk to patients and make a difference in their lives, and every day I'm amazed that the hardships I suffered as a patient have given me an opportunity to help others. It's just so very cool.
What is the best part of being a Clinical Educator?
There are times in this position (many times really) I hang up the phone after having talked with a patient, and I know I made some aspect of their life better. It's the greatest feeling and the whole reason I went to school to become a nurse.
Why should a pharma or biotech company choose to work with VMS?
In everything we do, we put the patient first. To me, that's the most important thing. I love the VMS values. We have great teamwork, and we all support one another. Our company foundation is strong, our priorities are where they should be, and we have a proven track record of success. Why would any pharma company choose anyone else?