In May, I had the privilege of attending the 20th annual Northeast Regional Nurse Practitioner Conference.  This conference is sponsored by the Massachusetts Coalition of Nurse Practitioners (MCNP), the New Hampshire Nurse Practitioner Association (NHNPA) and the Boston College William F. Connell School of Nursing Continuing Education Program.  It was established in 1992 to provide continuing nursing education to nurse practitioners (NPs) in order to maintain professional and clinical expertise in advanced practice nursing (APN) care.

Thursday morning began with keynote speaker, Karen Daleyk, the president of the American Nurses Association (ANA).  Her presentation discussed the affordable care act, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report on the future of nursing, and how these documents and the ANA are calling for nursing to become a more dominant force in reshaping U.S. health care.  The first lecture I attended was given by Dr. Annekathryn Goodman, who presented an update on the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) including testing, vaccination and the new cervical cancer screening guidelines.  She addressed the subtypes of the virus, geographical variations and issues with pediatric, male, and college health populations. The second lecture of the day was presented by advanced practice nurse, Holly Buckley, on the topic of caring for women during menopause.  I learned the current best practices for addressing estrogen related changes of menopausal women including evidence based diagnostic and preventative measures for this growing population.  During lunch, the MCNP meeting informed me of how this group supports, advocates, and represents NPs in Massachusetts.  The MCNP is a unique organization designed to support all NPs in Massachusetts regardless of specialty or organizational affiliation. Additionally, relevant issues and current public policy effecting NPs, including removing barriers to practice, were discussed.  I enjoyed participating in this luncheon and seeing a diverse collection of nursing leaders from various specialties unified by their desire to create a vision for the future of nursing in America.  After lunch, Dr. Harold Rosen gave one of my favorite talks of the conference.  He discussed the most recent evaluation, diagnosis, treatment options and therapy durations for osteoporosis.  In particular, he addressed the appropriate times to order bone density scans.  I was very impressed overall with my first day of the conference and was already looking forward to day 2!

On Friday, I listened to Dr. George Lantz discuss back pain management in primary care. He described how to evaluate back pain, the various treatments and when to refer.  Next, Dr. Heidi Hallonquest, spoke about diagnosing and treating vulvodynia. As a student in the women’s health specialty, I thoroughly enjoyed this talk.  Many general providers are not familiar with the terminology, but vulvodynia is a condition characterized by intermittent or constant pain, burning, itching, and irritation.  Another presentation was given by nurse practitioner, Kathryn Hall, who addressed different kinds of headaches, including: migraine, cluster, tension, and sinus. She reviewed diagnosis, treatment and prevention approaches to care for these patients.  Dr. Ann Cabot presented the last lecture I attended at the conference.  She talked about updated information regarding multiple sclerosis.  She stressed that early diagnosis can lead to improved quality of life for women and believed that it is important for primary care providers to recognize the early signs and symptoms.  She described treatments including physical therapy, pharmaceuticals, and the importance of lifestyle adaptation.

Overall, the conference was a wonderful experience.  I felt very privileged to meet so many impressive nursing leaders and to be able to network among hundreds of successful practitioners.  The fact that all different specialties were represented really added to lecture discussions and provided diverse perspectives on best nursing practice.  The conference also offered a variety of lecture topics that would appeal to different specialties and helped inform APNs on topics not encountered frequently or provided updated guidelines on clinical cases commonly seen.  I found the lectures very interesting and informative, as well as an effective method to help NPs to stay up to date on the most current practices and treatments.  The MCNP luncheon was also a good way to stay up to date on the politics effecting NPs and current actions being taken on both the state and national levels regarding APN practice.  I would highly recommend that future NP students attend this conference!