A Patient’s Perspective on Attending the American College of Rheumatology’s Annual Meeting

 

What a difference five years can make! At 29 years of age, I was newly diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and feeling lost and confused. Fast forward to 2019, I am now a member of Arthritis Research Canada’s patient advisory board and invited to co-present at the annual American College of Rheumatology conference.

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I have gone through the shock of an arthritis diagnosis and learning more than I ever expected about this disease. My learning curve has been steep, but that learning is what has brought me to this latest milestone. The patient voice and perspective is what shapes the research conducted at Arthritis Research Canada, and co-presenting with Arthritis Research Canada trainee, Jasmin Ma is a natural extension of the partnership that exists between patient and researcher. I am able to use my experience to benefit others.

The American College of Rheumatology’s (ACR) annual conference is the gateway to a global rheumatology education. With over 450 sessions and 16,000 healthcare professionals attending, the meeting provides boundless opportunity for professional development, networking, and access to the latest rheumatology research and clinical applications across the breadth of arthritis.

Attending the conference has given me more insight into the research process and in doing so, allows me to be a stronger patient advocate.

While the conference is tailored to healthcare professionals and the sharing of knowledge from around the world, there is a growing number of patient attendees, it signals the importance of including the patient voice as a necessary element in guiding the future of arthritis research. This is an important forum for patients to provide the ‘lived experience’ for advancing care and finding meaningful answers that work for those who are most affected – people with arthritis. I am grateful to Arthritis Research Canada for recognizing the tremendous contributions patients can offer and I am proud to be a member of their Arthritis Patient Advisory Board.

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