Today we have a guest post written by RAwarrior, Kelly Young about her experiences as one of the very first members of our new WEGO Health Press Corps. Here’s her post about attending the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Conference and who she met along the way. –Amanda
Patient Advocates Attend American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Conference
by Kelly Young, RAwarrior
When WEGO invited me to attend the 27th Annual National Conference of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners recently, it was a valuable experience for me as a patient advocate. Such alliances are beneficial for the nurse practitioner community as well as patient communities and I’d like to share some thoughts about why.
The Simple Win-win of Patients Collaborating with Professionals
Also attending the conference was Diabetes advocate Cherise Shockley, founder of Diabetes Social Media Advocacy (DSMA). Cherise is the founder of Blue Fridays which is as simple as it sounds: wearing blue on Fridays for diabetes awareness. Diabetes advocates use a blue circle as a simple tool to be mindful of diabetes.
On the Friday of the conference, many of the NP’s wore blue. Cherise honored several of them by “pinning” them with a shiny blue circle pin. Pictured, Cherise pins newly elected AANP president, Dr. Angela Golden. The pin was nifty gift because the NP’s would always have something blue to wear on Friday.
It was proof positive that win-win between health activists and health care professionals can be simple. There was a sense of mutual celebration of the successful collaboration. Cherise said, “I spent 5 days with 4,300 dedicated Nurse Practitioners. I learned a lot of great information and met amazing people who are passionate and committed to providing excellent care to their patients.”
Social Media as a Doorway to Collaborative Health
Cherise was invited by Michelle Litchman, a Utah nurse practitioner whose practice focuses on Diabetes care. Michelle advocates peer health which describes what frequently happens naturally in patient communities like RA Warrior and DSMA: peer to peer communication that includes a valuable exchange of ideas. I have to agree! The chief goal of our RA Warrior community has always been to bring information and encouragement through the invaluable input of fellow patients. It was exciting to see the nurse practitioners embrace that. Michelle agreed, “By having e-patients at AANP this year I hope NPs are more aware of the e-patient movement and how social media and peer health plays a role in millions of lives.”
Michelle is working to encourage more NP’s to utilize social media professionally. She made great strides in her goal of “getting more NP’s to use social media to increase awareness about social media healthcare resources and how they can impact clinical care.” Eagerly behind the effort was Conference Chair Deb Kiley, who also warmly welcomed us (Katie Beth and me, pictured with Michelle and Cherise).
First Name Basis: a Key to Trust and Impact
As I discussed on my own blog here, nurse practitioners are a valued group of health care professionals for several reasons. Michelle asked me how NP’s are different from physicians and my first response was very simple: we know our nurse practitioners by their first names.
The several NP’s who I’ve known as a patient (or parent of a patient) have been attentive listeners and did not seem to have been trained to dismiss patient testimony as many physicians were trained to do by “limiting verbalizations” from patients. To patients, the attentive behavior of NP’s is perceived as respect, which enhances trust. Trust is key when a health care professional offers advice or treatment: patients who are confident that their circumstances have been fully heard will more attentively follow medical advice. It’s as if the relationship with a nurse practitioner bears the influence of both a friend and a medical professional.
Kelly Young is the founder of RA Warrior and the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation, the first non-profit advocacy group for Rheumatoid disease patients in the U.S. She has written about 700 articles from the patient point of view about health care and Rheumatoid disease.