DIEP flap Patient Advocate Prepares for PSTM17
I am a DIEP flap patient advocate currently doing final tweaks and changes in preparation for Plastic Surgery the Meeting, PSTM17. Wheels will be off the ground early Thursday morning to fly out to Orlando. PSTM17 will be held at the Orange County Convention Center for a five-day event full of education sprinkled with a bit of fun around the Walt Disney World theme park.
Last year at PSTM16 in Los Angeles, I walked into the LA Convention Center amazed and overwhelmed, feeling like a little girl walking into Disney World for the first time. I wondered around both wide-eyed and a bit frightened at times since that was my first medical conference.
Everyone was welcoming and friendly from staff, vendors, to all the plastic surgeons I was finally able to meet after “knowing” them only through social media. The classes I attended were so beneficial to my mission of educating others about breast reconstruction. I met plastic surgeons from across the world and in a variety of specialties. The wonderful evening dinners and fun were the bonus after a long day of networking, listening, and learning.
Oh, what a difference a year makes!
This year, at PSTM17 we are having the first ever combined plastic surgeon and patient advocate panel. It will be a session under the Breast Track and will be for Continuing Medical Education credit (CME) for the plastic surgeons attending.
The task to get us on the schedule this year was not an easy one. The three panelist I will be speaking with, Drs. Karen Horton, Minas Chrysopoulo, and Roy Kim were the muscles and conduit to make this happen with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. A “little bird” told me that Dr. David Song had a lot to do with this also. No surprise given the vast amount of patient education he practices and embraces. Plastic Surgery the Meeting has never had patients on a panel so we had a lot of explaining and justification to do. There were many late-night texts, emails, and yes, phone calls to make this goal a reality.
I understand the need to validate the importance of this panel. I want to draw an analogy. I was a classroom teacher for many years prior to becoming a patient advocate and Director of a nonprofit organization and writing a blog about breast reconstruction. If someone came to me and said, “We’d like parents to start coming to your faculty and staff meetings to be a part of the conversation”, I would want justification, too. I would have inquired: “What is your purpose? Why are you here? Who are the parents coming to these meetings?”
We got similar questions and more but we were prepared to answer them. I feel the topic is really the driving force behind the outcome bringing patients to the table this year at PSTM17. The topic: Shared Decision Making. There is no “shared” in shared decision making without the patient.
I opened my Foundation just a little over a year ago. The patient advocates I have met fuel my spirit, help me learn daily, listen to me when I share my expertise, and yes, we laugh and drink coffee and occasionally sip wine together. I have had unbelievable experiences at conferences and scientific leadership programs this past year that have only prepared me more for this year’s PSTM17. I stand on the shoulders of both the plastic surgeons and patient advocates for strength and vision. Whether advocates are working at a local or national level, we are here to listen and participate in the shared decision-making aspect of our health care experience.
I applaud ASPS for putting the stamp of approval on this first ever plastic surgeon and patient advocate panel. I don’t mind putting a little pressure on myself to deliver the best possible work I can bring to the conference this year. Why? I hope this grows and continues to enhance plastic surgery practice across other disciplines. I know firsthand through my own lived experience how life changing plastic surgery can be when you are engaged in the shared decision-making process.
Come join us on Saturday, October 7, from 4:30pm-6pm to wrap up a day of learning in Orlando!
See you in Orlando for PSTM17!