Expert Bio: Tiffany Nichols MSN ed., RN, CPC

Statesville, NC
TK Education and Consulting Solutions, LLC
Owner & Cannabis Nurse Educator

Proceed with a forward-thinking mentality and look at all opportunities.

When Tiffany Nichols witnessed the improved symptoms of her patients using medical cannabis, she went looking for validated education on the industry yet found none. That is when Nichols decided to create TK Education and Consulting Services, LLC as her own education platform to provide quality education regarding the use of medical cannabis. Read about her online education platform and how her mess became her message as we feature another non-traditional career pathway for the Year of the Nurse series.

What is it that you do in your current role as a nurse?

As a registered nurse, master’s prepared Nurse Educator and Nurse Consultant, I provide education and consulting solutions for nurses, medical professionals, and healthcare organizations that promote best practices when caring for patients (specifically medical cannabis consumers) while promoting safe and legal use. My company features face-to-face and remote-education options for individuals, facilities, and organizations.

Cannabis Nursing Bridging the Gap through Intelligent Caring is an educational activity that directly focuses on the developing role of cannabis nursing. This activity addresses the gaps in evidence-based knowledge and best practices in the care of Medical Cannabis/Marijuana consumers. In addition, the activity provides the knowledge that nurses and health professionals need to be competent in the care of Medical Cannabis/Marijuana consumers while doing so in a safe, legal manner.

I also offer a Train-the-Trainer Workshop for any professional that desires to develop and design a training course and learn the process to offer continuing education credit or have approval by a specialty organization

Eventually, I will offer Cannabis Industry Education 101 - Education for non-licensed people which includes an introduction to medical cannabis, how it interacts with the body, methods of consumption, career opportunities, legal, safety, and ethical implications.

READ HER COURSE: Medical Cannabis Dosing Reference Guide and Education Course: Cannabis Nursing: Bridging the Gap through Intelligent Caring - approved by the American Holistic Nurses Association

Tell us about your journey.

The negative impact of limited access to information and healthcare options to scores of patients I have cared for the past 23 years inspired me to consider cannabis as a valid treatment option. I witnessed many patients where “mainstream” chronic condition treatments been exhausted, leaving them to suffer from poor quality of life. One particular terminal cancer patient I recall needed a family member to drive from North Carolina to Colorado to visit a dispensary in order for the patient to get relief from treatment symptoms.  And although cannabis is still illegal in many areas, many patients will self-medicate with no education or proper guidance. There is much literature to show that medical Cannabis improves some health conditions and provides a better quality of life for many people.

As I researched to find a training course for more information, I found that none of the education courses were based on evidence. They were fragmented and included no practical application of the knowledge or possible career opportunities within the growing industry. So, using the curriculum design and course-building experience I learned in graduate school, I developed my own training course. I want to be a frontrunner in the medical cannabis education area to help change the narrative from negative to positive as it relates to cannabis.

My grandparents and my son are very instrumental in my journey to succeed and care for others. My patients continue to inspire me with their attitudes of “be well and live a good quality of life,” oftentimes with limited or restricted access to information and medical care.

As a registered nurse since 1997 (ADN), BSN in 2008, MSN ed. In 2013 (educator since 2008, Cannabis Industry in 2018, certified professional coder since 2018, Nurse consultant/business owner since 2019) my desire to continue to learn is evident.

Yet there are still many challenges to overcome in the cannabis industry. The federal laws that designate cannabis as a schedule I substance limit access for consumers, research and education. It also impacts the societal view of the substance as a “medicine”. I knew this would be a challenge, yet the opportunity to positively affect change and create my own lane that is grounded in sound education, caring and ethical practice motivates me. It also amazes me the number of people’s lives that could be changed with access to information and help with solving medical problems. Part of my nursing legacy is to change that through education. It is our duty as nurses and health professionals to equip ourselves with the expertise to care for medical cannabis consumers using safe and legal best practices.

It’s 10 years in the future, where do you see this role taking you or where do you envision the expansion of your area of specialty?

Advanced expertise and knowledge are inevitable and necessary in the industry of medical cannabis.  TK Education and Consulting Solutions will experience enormous growth as a respected Education and Consulting firm in the medical cannabis industry. Societal acceptance must shift as the prohibition of cannabis becomes a thing of the past.

What advice would you give to prospective nurses about the field of nursing, considering your unique career path?

Equip yourself with formal education now to position yourself as an expert in the industry. As nurses, we are a necessary piece to this complex puzzle. Proceed with a forward-thinking mentality and look at all opportunities. Do not wait for a “Cannabis Nurse” position to be posted on job boards, create your own niche. My training courses stand out from others by including a practical application of the knowledge and beginning that “forward-thinking” mentality.

I witnessed many patients where “mainstream” chronic condition treatments been exhausted, leaving them to suffer from poor quality of life.

How would you describe the significance of “The Year of the Nurse” for our profession?

WOW… because of the hard work of so many of my dynamic nurse colleagues it is hard to visualize the progression of the industry without us….and folks are finally catching on!