A few weeks ago I was priveleged enough to attend the University of Washington’s Acute and Primary Care Conference.
It was my first conference since the American College of Nurse Midwives conference in Nashville in 2013. Conferences and clinical updates are a huge part of the advanced practice nursing world, and I was excited to see some of my former classmates and learn about all the new research that has come out in the past year.
I got to learn about everything from updates in caring for women with HIV, cholestasis in pregnancy, cases of vulvar itching, complex contraceptive cases and, one of my favorite topics, a step-wise approach to menopause management.
While these topics don’t directly relate to what I do in clinic every day, it felt so good to be learning new material, deepening my knowledge about things I haven’t thought about since school, and challenging myself to read the research.
Something I love so dearly about nursing is it’s continued committment to research and bettering our practice with the most evidence-based knowledge that we have available. However, this conference was the first time since school where I was faced with new research, new ways of thinking about things, and the essence of how difficult it is to change practice.
When I was in school, just a few years ago, we talked about menopause management in terms of estrogen and progestin therapy, even though in older women estrogen increases the risk of heart attack, blood clot, and stroke. Women who smoked, had high blood pressure or diabetes were kinda SOL when it came to managing symptoms because these conditions greatly increase those risks in combination with estrogen.
The lecture I attended on menopause management brought forward new, exciting data on the use of antidepressants to help decrease bothersome hot flashes without increasing the risks mentioned above. In fact, antidepressants like venlafaxine and peroxetine decrease hot flashes with even more efficacy and are better tolerated than estrogen, and are infinately safer for most women.
Attending the conference was refreshing and challenging. One of the things that made me fall head over heels for nursing was that it is an applied scientific field, ever changing and strengthening itself through new literature.
The other best part about the conference was seeing old classmates, preceptors, professors and co-workers. Often times, I feel isolated from a community of providers because I often work alone in clinic. But, seeing all these midwives and other clinicians helped to make me feel like a part of this fiercely passionate community.
Now that I’ve attended my first conference I feel hooked, and I’m already planning which ones I can head out to next. On the horizon are Contraceptive Technology in the spring and the annual American College of Nurse Midwives conference in the summer.
So here’s to continually learning, updating practice, and creating a community of providers!