Speaker at lunch
Listening to a NAPNAP speaker during lunch

I had the opportunity to attend the National Association of  Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) Conference in Boston a couple of weeks ago, thanks to funding I was able to receive from the KILN Program. The conference was held at the Hynes Convention Center from March 10-14, 2014. I have been a student member of NAPNAP for a little over a year (also thanks to KILN), and after seeing all that NAPNAP has to offer its members, I was excited to have this chance to attend a week-long conference by this organization with PNPs from all over the country.

Throughout the week I attended educational sessions, speeches, and hands-on learning activities with PNPs and other PNP students. There were so many lectures to choose from, so I picked the ones that I thought would be the most interesting, or that would be most applicable in my future practice. Some of the lectures I attended included “The ABCs of Billing and Coding in Pediatrics,” “Pediatric and Adolescent Immunization Update,” and “Environmental Lead Exposure: Current Issues and Recommendations.” All of the speakers were well-versed in their respective topics and provided great insight for future PNPs. Since I want to work in primary care in the future, I was especially interested in some of the sessions on prescribing for pediatric patients, such as “Prescribing Contraceptives to Adolescents and Young Adults,” “Pharmoacokinetic Considerations in the Treatment of Pediatric Behavioral Issues,” and “Anxious and Depressed Youth: Active, Early Interventions-Bridging the Gap between Evidence and Treatment.” There were also sessions on chronic diseases and ongoing issues in pediatric primary care, such as asthma and obesity.

Incising and draining a fake abscess!
Incising and draining an abscess created on a 3D printer

My favorite session was “Minor Office Procedures,” where I got hands-on experience in a variety of basic procedures that primary care PNPs perform in the office. I learned how to remove foreign bodies from ears and noses, close lacerations with Dermabond, perform a digital nerveblock, staple wounds, and properly remove splinters. I even learned how to incise and drain fake abscesses that were created on a 3D printer at Children’s Hospital. There was also an exhibition hall where companies marketed some of their up-and-coming products that are used in primary care offices across the country, from pharmacological companies to the latest baby products.

Removing a foreign object from a patient's airway
Removing foreign bodies from a child’s nose and airway

This conference was also a wonderful networking opportunity. All attendees had time to intermingle and make connections with other providers. I met PNPs from all over the country, and even one PNP from Rhode Island (my home state) whose job I ended up applying for, as she is moving for family reasons. Also, two of my preceptors this semester had employers that paid for them to attend the conference, demonstrating to me that professional learning opportunities are important to stay current on hot topics in pediatrics.

I truly enjoyed my week at the NAPNAP conference and would love to attend in the future. I am excited to apply some of my new knowledge and skills in my practice setting after I graduate in May. I think it is a wonderful learning and networking opportunity and ultimately allows its attendees to become more knowledgeable and provide better care for their patients.