Stories have been swirling in my head since we left Washington, DC, last week after the close of our exciting, four-day, inaugural Advanced Therapeutics in Movement & Related Disorders (ATMRD) Congress for healthcare providers across the Ecosystem© and the country.
This Congress was designed to bring the latest advanced clinical science to neurologists and nurse practitioners, to fellows, movement disorder specialists, and more so that they’re fully equipped to understand and provide the best therapeutics for their patients. When healthcare providers are empowered, people impacted by movement disorders are, too.
Since ATMRD, it’s not just the compelling facts about the latest research that’ve stuck with me, or just the invigorating energy of being with clinicians from across the nation and across roles, mirroring an integrated care team: interdependent and interconnected. It’s the personal stories these providers shared with me of their clinics back home.
Jackie Murphy, a nurse practitioner practicing in a small town, shared that many of her patients travel hours for an appointment with her. They come from rural areas without access to many healthcare resources. She said they’re craving education and connection in support groups and that social support is crucial to their wellbeing. While the expansion of telemedicine helps many, some of the families she cares for don’t have Internet access, making even virtual visits out of the question. “We need solutions,” she said. “My patients need and deserve more support.”
This is why ATMRD gathered more than seasoned physicians. We offered scholarships to fellows studying to become movement disorder specialists, neurology residents considering an MDS fellowship, and NPs and PAs from towns small and large. There’s a shortage of movement disorder specialists throughout the nation, which means appointment wait times are long and people living outside big cities often don’t have access to the care they need. By inviting a spectrum of clinicians to deepen their education and connect with potential mentors, we’re taking one more step to expand access.
In October, we’ll launch our first ever ALL IN!™ Summit for community & support group leaders. Here, too, there is a shortage and a great need. During the pandemic, we lost nearly 30% of all support groups, which are the lifeblood of the movement disorders community. Now more than ever, we need leaders to step up and volunteer. We need the social support that Jackie Murphy was talking about.
When we listen to every member of the Ecosystem© and work collaboratively, we can make a difference. Woven together, we’re immeasurably strong and resilient.
Acting CEO, PMD Alliance