From June 24th through 26th, I had the privilege of attending the Nurse Practitioner Associates for Continuing Education (NPACE) Primary Care Conference thanks to funding from the KILN scholarship.  This provided Boston College KILN scholars like me, the opportunity to participate in a professional conference, gain leadership skills, and an invaluable learning experience. NPACE is a local non-profit organization founded by nurse practitioners (NPs) in 1980 and is known for providing practical, relevant information for continuing education (CE) to nurse practitioners.  The purpose of this primary care conference was to “increase knowledge and skills and implement practice changes based on best-available evidence for addressing the challenges of providing primary care across the lifespan.”  I personally thought it was important as a new graduate to see the current clinical information being utilized by experienced providers in practice and was very surprised at how much I learned over three days in a hotel ballroom.

The first day opened up with a keynote address from the President of the Massachusetts Coalition of Nurse Practitioners, Stephanie Ahmed, DNP, who reminded us about the history of nurse practitioners (where we came from and how our profession developed) and inspired us to continue striving towards the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations to engage nurses as critical players in the future of healthcare (where we are going and to be part of the change).

From my perspective as a newly graduated NP, this information was not new but it did make me realize that I was looking at the first presentation with a critical eye.  Because our nursing school emphasized knowledge on the multiple facets of being a professional nurse, it was comforting to know that my education was relevant.  We have been empowered to be active participants in professional organizations as well as policy and I was starting to see how I could apply this as a full-fledged NP.  When everyone stood up at the end of Dr. Ahmed’s presentation, I felt very much a part of the group of NPs who would play a big role in healthcare’s future.

After the uplifting address, we jumped right in to the clinical material over the next three days, which included 15 topics from asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease to contraception and diabetes.  There were a few lectures I found most interesting.  One provided useful ideas to address patient intimacy concerns.  Another came from vitamin D expert, Michael Holick, PhD, MD, who gave an animated talk on the alarming number of people with vitamin D deficiency and the associations with many health benefits from supplementation.NPACE 3

In addition, there were two optional non-CE meal programs, which featured branded products for dyspareunia and allergic rhinitis.  On the second and third days, various vendors had booths in the lobby for companies like CVS Minute Clinic, Harvard Vanguard, and Arbonne.  There were representatives from job staffing groups, textbook publishers, and pharmaceutical companies.  Throughout this trip, I spoke to my colleagues, the vendors, and the lecturers.  I recommend any KILN student or graduating nursing student to attend this type of conference because of the multiple opportunities for learning and networking.   This particular conference took place at the Sea Crest Beach Hotel, which provided a beautiful location and tranquil atmosphere.  Because of the back-to-back lectures, I had to make an effort to squeeze in time to speak to attendees during the day and during our downtime at dinner or by the pool.  Although I was one of maybe two students/new graduates there, it was nice to meet experienced NPs and even get advice from each of them.  It is a bonus to learn about job opportunities and get inspired by successful leaders who are all around you.