This year’s Oscar-winning film The King’s Speech delivered the important message that each of us has a voice and deserves to be heard. Thanks to two passionate, driven clinicians, satellite radio—specifically, ReachMD (XM160)—is providing another venue for NPs and PAs to reach new audiences and expand their message, not only to their colleagues but also to physicians and the general public.
Lisa Dandrea Lenell, MPAS, PA-C, and Mimi Secor, MS, MEd, APRN, BC, FNP, FAANP, are the co-hosts of Partners in Practice. They are also Clinician Reviews Editorial Board members, so we decided to turn the tables and put them in the interview chair.
CR: How and when did you get involved with ReachMD?
LENELL: Dr. David Preskill, who started ReachMD, is in our practice’s referral chain. He was advised that if he wanted to expand the listening audience, he needed to get an NP or a PA on board. So, one day he called and asked me if I wanted to get involved. At first, I wasn’t interested, because I had a lot on my plate and I wasn’t really experienced in radio. But he said, “Well, just try.” So I contacted Ed Lopez, PA-C, for my guest, and we put together a demo, and they said, “OK, we’ll get back to you.” And a month later, I was in my car listening to ReachMD, and my show came on! That was October 2007.
I did the show myself—we just called it “The PA Show” then—until Mimi came on board. There had always been talk about expanding the show and bringing out the roles that different people play in health care. Having an NP was always on the agenda.
SECOR: When I got involved was just about a year ago, and how was with the help of a PA [Clinician Reviews Publisher Gary Falcetano, PA-C] who gave my name as a possible host when he heard that ReachMD might be considering adding an NP host. So I actually have a PA to thank for that!
Lisa was so gracious and helpful in assisting me to “get up to speed” as a national radio host. She was supportive, offered constructive suggestions, and wasn’t intimidated when I was added to what had, to that point, been “her” show.
CR: What is your approach to the show, in terms of choosing topics or guests?
SECOR: I have two reasons for doing the show: One is to enhance the visibility of NPs in a positive way, to show how smart they are, how expert they are, what a difference they make in health care, really showcasing the profession in a positive light to the world. And the second is to get good content out there. So the good content is actually used to illustrate how great NPs are.
As far as topics, number one, I have to have my finger on the pulse of what’s going on in my profession. So I’m constantly scanning the literature and keeping an eye on the national monthly occurrences so I can try to coordinate some of the programs we do with, say, Breast Cancer Awareness Month or whatever is going on in the world. Often when I’m interacting with my colleagues at conferences, I’m looking for “the expert.”
LENELL: My goal is to provide a forum where people can get simple answers to simple questions that they might want to ask but for whatever reason won’t ask or don’t know who to ask or how to find out. The goal from the beginning has always been to educate the public, medical professionals, and anyone we can about what a PA is and what we can do, to move the myths and misconceptions out of the way and do a professional, responsible job.
If I hear someone say something about PAs, and I didn’t know that bit of information, I’ll start researching it for a show. I’ve done several on coding and reimbursement for PAs, because I think it’s super important and I get those questions all the time. It’s confusing, and there’s no really great source for PAs. So I’ve had great people on the show to help us walk through that. I’ve done malpractice shows several times, because that’s another one that is really confusing for PAs. So I ask the questions that people want to ask but don’t know how.
I’ve seen a progression from the early shows. Some of the original topics, I knew only what I needed to know. But as I started peeling the onion of the PA profession, something new would come out that interested me, and we’d go after that for a show. It became almost like detective work to get interesting stories that were different.
CR: What are some of the memorable moments from Partners in Practice?
LENELL: My favorite shows, always, are the personal interest stories. My favorite was Vic Germino, one of the original four PAs from Duke. He is such a humble, amazing man, and he came on and told his story in a beautiful, personal way. I had goosebumps when it was over.
Another favorite is Russ Dorr, the medical writer for Stephen King. He’s a PA who still works full-time in pediatrics and he’s “Russ Dorr, the man behind the gore.” I got so many comments after that show, because who knew that the guy who writes all the medical info for Stephen King is a PA?
The only time we did a “breaking news” show was in Haiti. There were many, many PAs there, and of course no one talked about them. So I really wanted to get a PA who was in Haiti on the air. Eric Holden was in Haiti, and he managed to get a phone—we waited for him at the studio for a couple hours, in the hope that he could reach us. Anyway, Eric got a phone from a military operation that was assisting his group of responders. And you could hear in the background, while he was talking to us, everything that was going on. I was really grateful for him to come on.
My favorite topics in the past two years have been the global developments of the PA profession; I’ve become a little bit of an addict. I decided I was going to interview someone from every single country where there was a PA program. [These segments covered programs in Ghana, Canada, Australia, Scotland, England, Puerto Rico, and the Netherlands; Lenell has also interviewed PAs who did humanitarian work in Sudan and coordinated an exchange program with Thailand.]
SECOR: I think the most touching interview I have done was with Maryana McGlasson, who had just come back from working with Doctors Without Borders on the Nigerian cholera epidemic. That interview is just wrenching—how she found herself in the midst of hundreds of people suffering from cholera and she was basically put in charge, she had nothing to work with, and people were dying around her.
She also discussed how she had changed her life—she sold her house and moved back with her parents so that she could have the flexibility to, with two days’ notice, be dispatched wherever she’s needed in the world, to work for Doctors Without Borders. She described feeling like this was the reason she went into health care and became an NP, to make that kind of difference. It’s a poignant interview about how much of an impact we can have.
The most surprising guest was probably CAPT Linnea Axman, one of the top-ranked NPs in the Navy. I expected her to be a little more formal, but actually, she was so humanistic and so real in how she described her commitment to her service in the military, that it was just beautiful. She was so articulate and so personally motivated. She described her family history of multiple family members being in the military. I just didn’t expect to be moved that much.
CR: Who is on your wish list of future guests?
SECOR: My wish list includes the incredibly overachieving fellows in the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. I would like to do a radio show with every single one of them. I consider them the top-ranked NPs in the country. And I would need to do a live radio show every day to get through; there are several hundred now!
LENELL: One is Richard (Dick) Smith, who many consider one of, if not the, founders of the PA profession. He agreed to come on the show a while back, but then he had to cancel due to illness. So I still think it would be the capstone of my radio career to have Dick Smith on.
I would love to have President Obama on, but that’s probably not going to work out. We’ve reached out to Michelle Obama a few times for her diabetes work, so we’re hopeful that might work out at some point.
CR: What do you find most rewarding about your work on Partners in Practice?
LENELL: For me, it has always been about the opportunity to meet so many people. Along the way, I have learned more from the show than I’ve learned in any school or practice in life. I do my own writing—so does Mimi—and for a while I produced the show myself, so to do a good show, you have to know your topic. It forced me to learn about everyone and everything I was going to talk about.
SECOR: When I talk to groups, I always say, “You all have a story, and I can help you be successful in the media.” I am dedicated to media success for NPs, and my show is a way of coaching my peers to prepare for media opportunities that might not be so supportive. My job is to be a coach, and unlike Howard Stern, I’m not going to try to trip people up; I’m going to try to make them successful.
CR: All segments of Partners in Practice are archived on the ReachMD Web site (www.reachmd.com). Tune in next time to see what Lisa and Mimi have in store!