Becoming Beacons of Hope
My comments today are about hopefulness and especially hopefulness in challenging times. I am no expert on this topic, but that won’t stop me from sharing my thoughts. These are challenging times for many:
We hear stories about the nation’s struggle with the “opioid crisis;” about thousands of people dying of opioid overdoses, including celebrities that bring more attention to the issue. We hear about the legislative efforts to contain the “crisis” by limiting access to prescription opioids.
Separate from the opioid crisis, we have heard of colleagues who have lost their jobs after working for decades to improve pain management in their institutions, with implications for the management of pain as well as the personal impact on those colleagues.
We heard the message from our Immediate Past-President, Sharon Wrona, about the challenges ASPMN® faces with declining membership and shrinking budget. In the last five years, ASPMN® membership has declined by 32% and our assets similarly have decreased by 37%.
Finally, some of our members work in positions where their work is not sufficiently understood, valued or supported.
These challenges could result in feelings of hopelessness or even anxiety about the power we have to change things. Some may feel lonely or isolated, like the keeper of an old lighthouse on a tiny island might feel.
Instead of feeling hopeless or anxious, let’s examine these challenges differently. What does this mean for ASPMN®? This organization has been a consistent leader for the best care of patients in pain. We are a collection of dedicated individuals in clinical practice, research, education and administration who strive to do our very best to help patients who are struggling, fearful, and hopeless in the face of severe or unrelenting suffering. How do we, as the professional organization of ASPMN®, become a beacon of hope for people in pain, and for the nurses who care for them?
The Board’s consensus, and I strongly agree, is that ASPMN® must emerge as a recognized resource and support for nurses who manage pain every day of their work. Dr. Joann Eland, a beloved pediatric nurse and former ASPMN® President, coined the phrase “Every nurse is a pain nurse.” Our nursing colleagues around the country and the globe may not see themselves as pain management nurses. But, can you imagine any setting where a nurse doesn’t encounter someone in pain? Every nurse would admit they try to manage pain and suffering every day, whomever they work with:
That could be….
a laboring mother, a tiny newborn, a child in sickle cell crisis, a patient recovering in the post-surgical unit, a trauma patient in the emergency department, a person with persistent back pain in a primary care clinic, a woman with metastatic breast cancer, or an elder in their last days of hospice care. As Dr. Eland said, “every nurse is a pain nurse.”
We in ASPMN® must continue and strengthen our work to educate, advocate for, and support all patients with pain and all the nurses who care for these patients. How do we do that? We do it with teaching, advocacy, networking and research.
- Teaching includes materials such as the Core Curriculum, preparation materials for pain certification exams, our journal – Pain Management Nursing, our position papers and our webpage.
- Advocacy efforts include letter writing and testimony before local and federal agencies and legislators.
- Networking and support of each other include our list serve, social media outlets, regional meetings and the ASPMN® National Conference.
- Research offers new knowledge into the best methods to treat all sorts of pain.
Of course, we must continue these efforts and get even better. We must change with our changing world and become better at communicating with our peers and with the greater community. We must increase our use of social media and other technology so that we can better connect with one another, bolster one another and offer hope to anyone who is looking for relief of pain and suffering.
So, we have great challenges. I’ve thought a lot about this. My conclusion? We have an organization that is ready to face these challenges. I am very hopeful for the future of pain management and ASPMN®.
Why am I hopeful? We, along with our partners in health care are working hard to better the science and art of pain management. I’d like to share some examples:
- Past ASPMN® President Paul Arnstein and others advised the Massachusetts legislature to pass a bill called the CARE Act, the major opioid-related legislation, that will allow PCP’s and other practitioners to call trained teams of pain management specialists for remote consultation on patients. The goal is to enable PCP’s to feel more comfortable treating chronic pain patients in an effort to reduce the large number of patients now being dropped from care or unable to find a doctor who will treat them. The bill also added a nurse to the Board of Nursing who is “providing direct care to patients with a substance use disorder.” Legislating MME ceiling doses is just going too far into medical practice. Lawmakers agreed and took this out of the bill. (Cindy Steinberg, National Director of Policy & Advocacy, US Pain Foundation, communication, August 20, 2018)
- The Veterans Administration and Department of Defense have developed evidence-based guidelines for chronic opioid use which will guide care for thousands of veterans.
- The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) has developed weaning protocols to assist the practitioner who is not as familiar or comfortable with how to safely decrease opioid doses.
- The Range Order position paper developed by ASPMN® members has garnered attention from numerous journals and conference planners. The authors have been asked to write companion articles for these journals.
- After years of researching pain and substance use disorders separately, researchers are now focusing on the care of patients with comorbid substance abuse disorders and pain.
- ASPMN® members Esther Bernhofer and Barbara St. Marie have developed a new clinical pain knowledge test for nurses in order to improve nursing education content and process.
- Sharon Wrona, on behalf of ASPMN®, changed Walmart’s policy on opioid prescriptions. Sharon wrote a letter to the Walmart CEO, decrying Walmart’s decision to limit filling of an opioid prescription to only one week. Walmart notified Sharon of a change in policy that allows pharmacists to use their professional judgment in filling prescriptions as written. This is what is known as making a difference! Kudos to Sharon personally and to ASPMN®.
These aren’t all the good things happening in our pain management world. These were just a few examples to illustrate the progress being made. There’s a lot to be hopeful about. Going forward, Sharon Wrona and the past year’s Board of Directors have envisioned and prepared us to become a better organization. We started by describing six current characteristics of ASPMN® and those to which we aspire. We are professional, insightful, caring and dynamic. We want to become more diverse within our membership and in the resources we provide. We will work to help individuals feel welcomed and valued.
We then endorsed a strategic plan to rejuvenate our organization: It has six major components:
- Enhance the brand experience: We need to standout to consumers through a new logo and message that will emphasize the benefits and values that ASPMN® offers.
- Revamp content of our brochures/website: We will create high-value content that is easy to understand and use.
- Build targeted awareness: We will develop high impact targeted marketing to different nursing groups.
- Engage the modern consumer: We will pursue new and creative ways to communicate with members and the larger community.
- Influence the influencers: We will reach out to peers, managers, educators and employers to motivate engagement with ASPMN®.
- Welcome to the community: We must create an “open arms” mentality to welcome current and new members that help them feel engaged and valued.
This coming year will be busy with implementing strategies to engage our current members, recruit new members to strengthen us collectively, and bring new energy and insights to our organization. We want to become THE professional pain management resource for nurses in every field of endeavor.
We’ve set yearly milestones that will help guide the focus and energy of our Board and committees. This first year will continue building a foundation for all the strategies that were listed. One of our first action items is to look at our brand and bring it into this century. The Board has now adopted a new logo on the recommendation of our consultants.
We hope that the new logo speaks to both our members and to the public. Each person may see something different in a logo. For me, the three intersecting circles speak of our three major aims and activities: education, research and clinical care. All these activities intersect to promote the best nursing care for the patient in pain. The tag line “supporting nurses managing pain” is part of our mission to support all nurses, whenever they find themselves managing a patient’s pain.
With this new strategic plan, my hope for this coming year is that ASPMN® will continue to grow both in numbers and as a recognized resource to our members and our communities, so that when support is needed in managing pain, we are thought of first.
As I close, I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve as your President for the next year. You have elected a stellar Board with whom I will be working. We face big challenges, but we will work together to accomplish our goals. This organization is filled with talented, committed, wonderful people. Please, do not just look to others to be the beacon of light in these dark times. Become the beacon of hope for the care of patients in pain and for those nurses who care for them. As Desmond Tutu has said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.”
Thank you! See you next year in Portland!
The Countdown to the National ASPMN® Conference Has Begun
The countdown to our National Conference is on and we could not be more excited! This year, the ASPMN®'s 28th National Conference will take place at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point in the beautiful Bonita Springs, Florida.
ASPMN®'s 28th National Conference
From September 26th-29th pain management professionals will gather together to gain knowledge and access to cutting-edge expertise in the field of pain care. Attendees will attend pre-conference workshops, speaker sessions, paper presentations, panel discussions and general sessions, but it’s not all work and no play. With a welcome breakfast, a fun run/walk, silent auction and an ultimate ASPMN® party, conference attendees are in for a real treat this year.
ASPMN® Conference Attendees
The ASPMN® National Conference is attended by hundreds of pain management professionals from around the country and include an array of professionals including:
Advanced Practice Nurses
Nursing Administrators including Managers and CNOs
Clinical Nurse Specialists
Nursing Students with an interest in pain management
Conference attendees will have the opportunity to network with other healthcare professionals, which is one of the main benefits of attending the ASPMN® National Conference. By learning from other professionals and sharing experiences with one another, attendees will develop a better understanding of their own pain management practice and their role in care delivery. Not only will conference attendees validate their own experience in providing nursing care, but they will simultaneously be taking advantage of contact hours designed specifically for RNs, CNs, NPs, nursing researchers and nursing faculty.
The Changing Tides of Pain Management
This year’s theme, “The Changing Tides of Pain Management,” will address all aspects of pain management nursing and will include a wide variety of topics including:
ASPMN® Pain Management Certification Preparation Course™
Bring Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions to Your Organization
The Tides Have Changed in Pediatric Pain Management
Opioid Therapy at a Time of Crisis Keynote Address
The Impacts of Law, Regulation & Enforcement on Pain Care: An Update
Opioid Crisis: HHS Strategy & Pain Management
Jean Guveyan Lecture: Nursing Education in the Midst of the Opioid Crisis
OUCH!...That's Better. Interventional Pain Options
Reducing Inpatient Opioid Consumption: Creating a Therapeutic Foundation with Breakthrough Analgesia Based on Patient Function
The Joint Commission Update: Pain Standards
The Science & Art of Managing Pain throughout the Cancer Experience
Navigating the Waters of Acute Postoperative Pain
Impact to Patients in Pain through a Career in Pain Management
The Addicted Pain Patient
Government Enforcement in the Age of Opioids: How the Government is Investigating and Prosecuting Opioid Abuse Cases
In All Things, I Am My Patients’ Advocate: A Holistic Look at Medical Cannabis
Besides these intriguing general sessions, there will also be numerous concurrent sessions guests can attend throughout the course of the conference. Click here to see the entire program.
Attend ASPMN®'s 28th National Conference
Every nurse is a pain care nurse, which is why it’s imperative to stay up-to-date on cutting edge pain management techniques, therapies and industry advancements. By attending the 28th National ASPMN® National Conference, you will enhance your knowledge and skills, ultimately enabling you to better care for your patients. Plus, the registration fee for ASPMN®’s National Conference is one of the most budget-friendly rates in the nursing and pain management industries. Learn more here.
If you are interested in attending the ASPMN® 28th National Conference, register here.