Ms Stewart: A lecture topic I recall from one of my last undergraduate nursing courses was to “join a nursing organization and be active in that organization.” Why do I remember that over so many other topics many years later? The thought of creating change at an organizational level was daunting. As a new pulmonary hypertension (PH) nurse coordinator in the mid-1990s, it was hard to find information about how to care for someone with PH. Building a PH clinic required implementation of many new processes and was fraught with challenges. Connecting with others in the PH medical community was difficult and occasionally awkward. No one wants to admit to being the new person on the block. My mission became: “If something scares you, become an expert and then help others with the same challenges.” The PH Professional Network (PHPN) offered an excellent opportunity to become involved in creating change.
Ms Wilson: Since the beginning of my journey as a nurse, I have been an active participant in nursing organizations. I sought roles that would offer professional growth potential while challenging me to learn new things. However, what was most important to me was to be part of something valuable and to actively help improve it. The PHPN is that something. I think all health care professionals have unique skills. Some are more overt with these abilities, while others tend to keep them hidden like secret treasures waiting to be discovered. Our individual talents have the capacity to change the world around us. Whatever your skill is, PHPN has a place for you—a place to showcase your unique expertise to enhance the field of PH.
Ms Stewart and Ms Wilson: As chair and chair-elect of PHPN, one of our goals has been to advance a shift in the focus of the organization toward mentoring newer allied health PH providers. We are all responsible for nurturing the next generation of PH professionals to provide a seamless transition so patients remain in the hands of extremely capable providers. These providers must have knowledge of the background of PHPN and possess a desire to continue to improve outcomes. Joining PHPN provides networking opportunities to integrate providers with varying experience levels. PHPN offers many possibilities for networking, mentoring, and sharing and developing educational processes.
PHPN was established in 1999 to provide a network for allied health professionals caring for people with PH. Diversity within the PHPN membership is critical to success of the organization. The membership consists of nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, dietitians, and social workers. There are adult and pediatric professionals from large centers, small centers, and community clinics. These multidisciplinary team members are all focused on the complex needs of the PH community.
Joining PHPN offers members the opportunity to learn and to teach others. Time for networking is reserved at the PHPN Symposium and PHA International Conference, while the PHPN mentor program offers a more formal one-on-one experience. Members have the ability to ask questions and obtain feedback on day-to-day challenges via the PHPN listserv. Access to the membership roster enables individual contact. PHPN members are actively involved in Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) initiatives to deliver insight from the allied health perspective. The creation of the PH Care Centers project aligns with the goals of PHPN, and allows members to assure excellent care is provided to patients with PH.
Leadership in PHPN consists of executive and committee chairs working to facilitate necessary change. The PHPN committees include Education, Membership, Practice, Publication, and Symposium. Committee chairs and committee members are engaged in identifying needs of the organization, mentoring, educating, and growing the membership. Tools and resources created in the committees benefit all members. The PHPN biannual symposium, PH Pulse newsletter, and webinars are designed to disseminate strategies for managing and caring for PH patients.
We encourage you to become actively involved in PHPN, sharing your unique talents. There are many opportunities for professional growth, and an enormous amount that we can do collectively to create change in the PH community.