This past May I had the privilege of attending the Northeast Regional Nurse Practitioner Conference in Manchester, NH. I am grateful to the Price Family Foundation and KILN for making this opportunity a reality. This three-day event was co-hosted by the New Hampshire Nurse Practitioner Association, Massachusetts Coalition of Nurse Practitioners (MCNP), and Boston College (BC) William F. Connell School of Nursing Continuing Education Program. It was great to see BC’s strong representation at this conference with many faculty members and students in attendance, and some even presenting.

Since the goal of the conference is to provide continuing nursing education that expands upon the basic education and experience of nurse practitioners (NPs), many of the lectures were specialized topics presented by an expert within the field. One that I found incredibly insightful was a lecture given by neurologist Maureen Hughes, MD on the topic of “Managing Headaches.” She thoroughly explored the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of migraines with many clinical pearls and funny anecdotes. As a new NP graduate, it was helpful to be reassured by a specialist that we, as primary care NPs, are well trained to take care of the patients she sees in her office. Additionally, she armed us with knowledge about the best and worst things we can do for these patients.

Richard Rothstein, MD, who was the keynote speaker, presented a fascinating update and analysis on weight, wellness, and obesity. Particularly surprising was learning about gastric bypass alternatives that are coming down the pipeline, such as inflatable balloons to minimize stomach space and pumping mechanisms to empty the stomach after each meal. This presentation, like many of the others at the conference, seemed very relevant to the current healthcare issues in New England.

Another highlight of the conference was the MCNP meeting held over lunch with more than 150 Massachusetts NPs. Not only was this a great opportunity to casually meet and talk with more seasoned nurses, but it was also an inspirational meeting with a presentation by MCNP President, Stephanie Ahmed. She delivered compelling arguments and rallied enthusiastic support from the crowd for the bills that are currently in the Massachusetts House and Senate. She reminded us of what an exciting time this is to be a nurse practitioner, and that we must all advocate for ourselves to practice to the full extent of our education and training. By the end of the lunch, there was a standing ovation in which we were all impassioned and united together in representing this wonderful profession.

This lunch certainly set the mood for the remainder of the conference. Throughout the following lectures and sessions, I felt incredibly connected to and supported by this group of NPs. Even though at times there were hundreds in a room, I felt connected because we were all present to learn together, advance our skills,  find ways to better care for our patients, and  be reminded that we should always strive to be better. This conference really made me proud to be a part of this profession, and introduced me to a supportive network of NPs that are excited to mentor those who are less experienced. I would highly recommend this conference to others who wish to learn more about primary care topics, be inspired by leaders in the profession, and feel a sense of community amongst New England NPs.

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