More than 1,500 pediatric-focused advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) gathered in Atlanta to hear child health experts discuss the latest evidence-based research data and clinical practice information. The 37th National Conference on Pediatric Health Care kicked off with a very popular session on autism presented by Dr. Lisa Wiggins of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Wiggins noted that developmental screening and evaluation of young children is needed to identify and treat children as soon as possible to improve developmental outcomes. The CDC offers free resources online for its “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” campaign.
Another highly popular session was Wednesday afternoon’s “The Scoop on Poop” that included a lesson on the philosophical underpinnings of the recommended potty-mastering technique, understanding what readiness means and a step-by-step method for parents.
“A lot of children are scared that if they are potty trained, then they will have to do everything on their own. I had one toddler say to me while crying, ‘Does this mean my mommy won’t make me lunch anymore?’” said Susan Glaser, M.A., Educational Psychology during the session. Glaser presented the session alongside Kelly Muldoon Rieger, BS, RN, MSN, APRN.
On Thursday, Dr. Mary Beth Koslap-Petraco began the conference sessions with a rousing speech on immunization with a special emphasis on cancer prevention vaccines. She presented case studies testing the audience’s knowledge on the importance of adhering to vaccine schedules. She advises that members review the latest CDC immunization guidelines including changes in the footnotes.
Following Dr. Koslap-Petraco’s session was Dr. Judith Owens, who led an awakening session on the implications of the lack of sleep in children and adolescents. This NAPNAP Foundation-sponsored session went into detail on how health professionals can promote sleep health by screening, educating and advocating.
NAPNAP past presidents led back-to-back sessions on the importance of pediatric-focused APRNs expanding their leadership influence and serving on advisory boards. The collaborative effort highlighted becoming a leader in any type of organizational structure and emphasized that great leaders aren’t born, they’re trained. The speakers discussed their own experiences and how they evolved as NAPNAP leaders. They focused on the impact you can make from any spot on the organizational chart.
Friday included with a session on dermatology for the general practitioners, led by Kammi Sayaseng, DNP, PNP-BC, IBCLC. The session addressed many dermatological issues seen in children and adolescents, factors leading to these issues and how to address the issue with patients and children.
At lunchtime, NAPNAP hosted a general session lunch on the future of pediatric nursing, presented by Karin Reuter-Rice, Ph.D., CPNP-AC, FCCM, FAAN. The session highlighted what has changed in the profession over the past decade and what steps must be taken in order to see a growth in the pediatric nursing profession.
“We need PNPs and [pediatric] nurses to care for children and teens, especially those with special needs and chronic or serious acute conditions,” said NAPNAP Immediate Past President Mary Chesney following the presentation. “We also need FNPs, especially in rural areas where we have significant primary care shortages. NAPNAP is a big tent with room for all who desire to provide high-quality care for children and teens. The U.S. needs every available NP. Let’s respect and welcome all who care for children!”
In addition to more than 100 educational sessions and poster presentations, attendees had the opportunity to mix and mingle at special events such as the ‘80s-themed Attendee Welcome Social, Opening Reception, Special Interest Group (SIG) Showcase, and numerous other SIG and chapter events. These numerous opportunities to network and catch up with fellow pediatric-focused APRNs from across the country left a lasting impression on our attendees.
"I have been attending the annual NAPNAP conference for the last several years and this year's conference did not disappoint! I am always impressed by the high quality speakers, and variety of topics and learning about innovative roles pediatric nurse practitioners are working in,” said Raji Koppolu, MSN, CPNP-PC/AC. “We often times are fighting to be visible and valued in our individual workplaces, and conferences as these remind me that our sheer expertise, knowledge, and clinical acumen are ultimately what will carry us forward. So appreciative to be a part of NAPNAP and be in a place with so many other advanced practice pediatric nurses who do incredible work."
Members participating in this week’s conference activities also celebrated Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Week.
Read more from President Cathy Haut!