by Ellen Walsh

I am grateful for the wonderful opportunity I had to attend the 37th annual National Conference on Pediatric Health Care in Atlanta, Georgia from March 16-19th. I attended the conference as a new member of NAPNAP, which stands for the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners. The conference was a gathering of over 1,500 pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) from across the country. These PNPs are dedicated to ensuring the health and well-being of our nation’s children, and presented the most current, evidenced-based research on many important topics related to child health.

I was initially hesitant to attend the conference, but I knew that I wanted to challenge myself professionally as I prepare to graduate as an advanced practice nurse in May. The conference was affirming in many ways, and the experience has re-energized my desire to be a pediatric provider. Some of my favorite sessions included “ADHD Management for the Reluctant Primary Care Provider”, “Sleep in Children and Adolescents”, “Care for the Immigrant Child”, and “A Trauma-Informed Lens: Managing the Primary Health Needs of Children in Foster Care.” Each speaker challenged the primary care provider to spend the time considering the social determinants of health that affect each of these populations. The presenters provided evidence-based strategies for quality healthcare that included screening tools, tips for family education, and treatment goals. Each conference session built upon the knowledge and clinical skills I have already acquired at Boston College, and has helped me to become a more sensitive provider.

Furthermore, there were many wonderful opportunities for networking with employers and meeting nurse practitioner students from different areas of the country. I plan to stay in touch with the NAPNAP members I met and hopefully reconnect at future conferences. I left Atlanta feeling incredibly empowered – both as a student and as a soon-to-be pediatric nurse practitioner. Thank you KILN for the wonderful opportunity.