At this time of the year, thousands nurse practitioners attend the national NP meeting. Other than the obvious accrual of required continuing education credits, for me, conferences are the perfect opportunity to connect in real time with other thinkers and doers in our profession. I go to be inspired by the words of our founders and leaders, encouraged by the states that have achieved full practice authority, but mostly to be among people who share my goals to improve patient care through education.
This year, I had a unique and more than wonderful experience. Dave Mittman, P.A., DFAAPA, asked me to fill in for him at the Clinician1 booth in the exhibit hall for the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) 2015 National Conference in New Orleans. I was a bit hesitant to say yes, as I know that this is one demanding task; especially as the attendance at this year’s National Conference was over 5,500. I must say that I have no regrets! For attendees, the exhibit hall is a place to learn about advances in the industries that support NP practice. It is a fun break from lectures and an opportunity to network. I learned over the course of three days that for exhibitors this is exhausting work; especially on the first day! So many flocked to the Clinician1 booth, and I found myself tongue tied at times in my attempt to spread the word about this wonderful online NP/PA community. I think that the best part for me was the opportunity to meet NPs from all over the country and beyond. I was elated to know that the majority of NPs were excited to learn about our unique model and philosophy which builds strength from NP/PA collaboration and discussion. We learn so much from one another, and in these times of rapidly changing practice laws we can help each other achieve success. I wanted to take this unique opportunity to provide a call to action. I know that conference time is intended for us to gain knowledge to improve our practices. I wondered if in the future it could also be a time to impact the health of our host cities in some way. I could not help but think about Hurricane Katrina while I was out and about in New Orleans. Much progress has been made since the devastation of the hurricane, yet there remains disparity, poverty, and lack of access to quality health care. I am sure that this is true of any city that the AANP and AAPA choose for their respective conferences. Consider the impact if the 1000s who attend these conferences each year donated just a bit of their time to volunteer health care services in the host city? A Flash Health Mob – if you will. We could improve our visibility as clinicians, and do some good at the same time. I do not know how much longer I will be traveling to conferences each year. This one for me was special for it celebrated our history, our legacy and our future, and gave me a new perspective on my profession. Until next time.