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A Day in the life of a Medical Cannabis Nurse Practitioner

A Nurse Practitioner (NP) specializing in medical cannabis is uniquely responsible to take everything into account regarding a patient’s care. This incorporates psychological considerations, pre-existing conditions, medication reconciliation, and most of all, education. This National Nursing Week, let’s take a look together with us on a day in the life of a Medical Cannabis Nurse Practitioner with Mary Ghazarian, NP from North Star Wellness.

Q: What is a typical day as a Medical Cannabis Nurse Practitioner?

A: My patients come from diverse backgrounds and range in age from youth to senior, but all have similar goals to improve their health, symptoms, and quality of life. Most of my work revolves around patient assessment, diagnosis, and treatment. I conduct a thorough evaluation of past medical history, medications, and symptoms they hope will improve with medical cannabis such as chronic pain, mood and insomnia. I educate patients about medical cannabis components such as CBD and THC, potential benefits and side-effects, and methods of administration. I authorize medical cannabis when indicated and recommend a personalized medical cannabis treatment plan to alleviate symptoms. Following an assessment and medical cannabis authorization, I complete insurance forms and advocate for coverage if a patient is declined.  I see patients for follow-up to keep them on track with optimizing medical cannabis to meet their treatment goals.

Q: What is the decision that led you to become a Medical Cannabis Nurse Practitioner?

A: I first pursued education in medical cannabis in 2018 around the time of cannabis legalization in Ontario.  At the time, my patients from adolescents to seniors were asking questions and I wanted to have answers.  As an emerging field, medical cannabis was new, exciting, and in line with my interests in functional and holistic medicine.  Everyone was familiar with cannabis as a flower that was smoked, but other options like cannabis oral spray or cannabis extract were new for many and greatly contributed to decreasing the stigma around cannabis. I moved from part-time work in medical cannabis to a full-time when I saw my patients having repeated success with decreasing opioids, benzodiazepines, and other medications, and improving their quality of life. Specializing in medical cannabis has allowed me to focus on continuing my education in medical cannabis, to keep on top of new research, and to eliminate the barrier to personalized medical cannabis assessment and treatment which can be difficult to access.

Q: In your experience, what are the main factors that make patients turn to cannabis?

A: I have seen three common themes for patients seeking medical cannabis:

1) They have exhausted all solutions in the traditional medical system.
2) They were already taking cannabis recreationally and are looking for more personalized advice on how to take cannabis as a medicine.
3) Medical cannabis was recommended by a trusted health care provider, friend, or family member.

All patients entering my (virtual) office are looking for something to improve their quality of life. This might be joint pain relief, arthritis pain treatment, chronic pain treatment, a sleep aid, balancing their mood, managing nausea associated with chemotherapy or addressing other distressing symptoms. No matter what factor has led a patient to me, we can work together to see whether medical cannabis is right for them.

Q: What do you love most about being a Medical Cannabis Nurse Practitioner?

A: My patients come from an infinite number of backgrounds, but all have similar goals to improve their health, symptoms, and quality of life. I love seeing patients in follow-up and hearing about how medical cannabis has helped them not only improve their symptoms, but to be able to go back to doing the things they enjoy like walking their dogs or playing with their grandchildren. When it comes to chronic issues like pain, insomnia and mood disorders, managing symptoms can be incredibly challenging because symptoms tend to feed into each other and it’s hard to break the cycle. Medical cannabis may not get rid of a condition, but it can decrease suffering and provide relief from symptoms to improve quality of life and that is what I love about my work as a Nurse Practitioner specializing in medical cannabis.

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Get to know Mary's Medicinals Topical Compounds
In 2021, we announced our exciting partnership with Mary's Medicinals by introducing Topical Compounds to our ever-growing cannabis portfolio. Since then, the CBD and 1:1 THC:CBD compounds have become preferred products for many patients. What is a Topical Compound? Mary’s Medicinals Compound is a spot-specific balm produced using full-spectrum cannabis extract containing naturally occurring CBD and THC, mango butter and a blend of essential oils. They contain cannabinoids derived from cannabis plants and are meant to be applied to your skin, offering a smoke-free, easy to administer, and convenient alternative for taking cannabis. Compounds are available in CBD dominant and 1:1 Balanced variations. How to Apply it Cool citrus basil and mango scented, there is an almost-instant cooling effect upon application from the menthol. Apply a finger-tip of balm topically to the target area and avoid broken skin or sensitive wounds. The consistency, although thick at first, melts nicely with the heat from skin. Quality Assurance Mary’s Medicinals is acclaimed for delivering the most advanced, cleanest products on the market. The award-winning technology found in its products is dedicated to pioneering and delivering natural, THC, CBD and other cannabinoid-infused products to positively impact the lives for patients. The extracts and resins are formulated together with naturally sourced mango butter, beeswax and menthol ingredients to produce Mary’s Medicinals topical products. Ingredients • Cannabis Extract – crude oil extracted from the whole cannabis plant • Mango Butter – proper spreading consistency, softer and colorless butter • Beeswax – hardens the formulation to the correct texture. • Unscented Massage Oil Base – base mixture for the products • Menthol – added for scent • Natural Fragrance – cool, citrus, basil • Oleic Acid – carrier, or vehicle • Isopropyl Myristate – skin conditioner • Optiphen – a paraben and formaldehyde-free preservative system
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Introducing Digital Treatment Plans
Digital Treatment Plans are now available to all registered patients through your account profile. As your medical cannabis provider, Starseed is committed to providing the resources and medical-focused products to help you achieve your health and wellness goals. Our new Treatment Plan feature connects patients to tailored product options and dosing instructions as recommended by your health care practitioner - allowing you to confidently follow a safe and responsible medical cannabis regimen. A Plan Customized to Your Needs This innovative new feature is now accessible through your account profile and includes: • Product recommendations by time of day (Morning, Noon, Night, As Needed) • Specific dosing and safe administration instructions • Personalized health care practitioner suggestions based on ailments and cannabis experience • Ability to order products from your Treatment Plan page Please note, if you are already a registered patient, your Treatment Plan will be developed during your next consultation with one of our partner clinics. Already a Starseed Patient? Here's how it works Digital Treatment Plans are now a standard part of our free consultation process. During your next consultation, the health care professionals at our clinic partners, such as HelloMD and North Star Wellness, will develop a personalized treatment plan with you. As always, you can book a consultation to renew your medical document or you can book to speak with a nurse practitioner for general health or cannabis advice. If you would like a personalized treatment plan today, even if your medical document is not due for renewal soon, feel free to book an appointment with our clinic partner HelloMD. Shortly after your consultation is complete, you’ll receive a notification from us that your Treatment Plan is ready to be viewed within your account profile. From there, you can purchase recommended products directly from your Treatment Plan page. If you have questions about how to obtain a Treatment Plan or any of our products or services, our Client Care Team is available to assist you at 1-844-756-7333 or