An Interview with Debra Weiner
Synne Wing Venuti, MSW:
Please provide a brief history of PAINWeek meetings.
Debra Weiner: We occupy an unusual niche in the realm of medical communications companies, as we have a singular focus on pain. In 2004 we helped launch the American Society of Pain Educators, a 501©(3) nonprofit organization, and provided administrative support to facilitate the development of their Certified Pain Educator (CPE) credential. In 2005, Aventine produced the first Pain Educators Forum, designed specifically for clinicians interested in pursuing the CPE path. This led us to consider developing a broader conference for “frontline” practitioners who treat chronic pain. PAINWeek was then launched in September 2007. It was important to us to make PAINWeek an inclusive conference, and we sought and secured the participation of a dozen or more professional and patient advocacy organizations.
Today, going into our 7th year, the recognition factor for the PAINWeek “brand” is significant. We have been very successful at distinguishing ourselves from other pain conferences. The feedback and adjectives we receive are amazingly consistent, i.e., high-energy, expansive, practical, forward-looking, visually stimulating, etc. Our signature artwork has become so popular among conference attendees that we will now be offering selected items in The PAINWeek Store.
SV: Describe how the conference has grown over the years, how many people have attended, and what is the variety of professionals who attend?
DW: PAINWeek has grown tremendously over the last 6 years, and we welcomed 1800 attendees in 2012. Demographically, we continue to be consistent with 56% physicians (MD/DO), and the remainder are allied healthcare practitioners, including nurses, psychologists, and pharmacists. Of the physician segment, 70% are primary care and 30% are specialists. The conference is managed by Aventine, and it is sponsored by Global Education Group. Based on surveys that we have conducted, we have uncovered some very interesting information:
- 50% of attendees do not attend any other pain conference
- 30% of attendees do not attend any other medical conference
The conference is held in Las Vegas, from September 4-7 and will present over 100 hours of continuing medical education, across multiple disciplines. Some of the many topic areas are behavioral pain management, diabetes and pain, health coaching, hypnosis, interventional pain management, medical/legal issues; music therapy, neuropathic and musculoskeletal pain conditions; pain and personality disorders, pain and chemical dependency; pharmacotherapy; and physical therapy.
Faculty feedback on PAINWeek:
“PAINWeek has been a phenomenal way of introducing the problem of pain and the scope of pain to frontline practitioners. In the medical field we often think of pain as being a symptom of an underlying disease process. But it turns out that more and more, we’re finding that pain is a disease in and of itself, and when it becomes chronic it really takes on a life of its own. It’s a fantastic way of bringing that information in a really good digestible format.” -Michael M. Bottros, MD, Assistant Professor, Washington University School of Medicine
“This one meeting that truly understands that good pain care starts in primary care. This conference understands that better than any other pain conference I have ever been to.” -Ilene Robeck, MD, Co-chair, National VA Primary Care Pain Task Force
“PAINWeek is to pain treatment and education like U2 is to the music industry. Both remain on the cutting edge.” -Stephen J. Ziegler, PhD, JD, Associate Professor of Public Policy, Indiana University-Purdue University
“PAINWeek is a bonanza of pain education and pain management. And if you even flirt with pursuing a practice in pain management, you need to be here. This is where it’s happening.” -Mary Lynn McPherson, PharmD, BCPS, FASPE, CPE, Professor and Vice-Chair, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy
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SV: What are some of the program highlights this year?
DW: In response to increasing concern over misuse and abuse of prescription medications, and opioids in particular, PAINWeek 2013 will be designating day 3 (Friday, September 6) of the 2013 conference as “Opioid Safety Day.” The day will feature multiple course offerings, symposia and special sessions designed to provide the latest information on prescribing safety for opioids, as well as on the increasingly stringent and complex regulatory environment surrounding them. Commercially-supported activities, including a certified-for credit symposium on the FDA’s extended release/long acting opioid REMS (risk evaluation & mitigation strategy) will also be offered to PAINWeek attendees. The objective is to better prepare frontline practitioners in the appropriate use of opioid analgesics as an element of multidisciplinary pain therapy. Among the featured courses will be:
- Opioids Inside the Institutional Setting
- Opioids A-Z
- Opioid Conversions
- Opioid-induced Hyperalgesia
- Opioids: Update on Abuse-Deterrent Formulations
- Patient-Centered Urine Drug Testing
- Opioid Refugees: the New Diaspora
- “Just Saying No to Opioids”: Not Necessarily Good Medicine
PAINWeek 2013 will present new Special Interest Sessions ranging from discussions on analgesic effects of virtual reality, to presentations on medical hypnosis, postsurgical pain, medical marijuana and law and public policy. Also joining the roster will be Master Classes on fibromyalgia, patient-centered urine drug testing, pain and hormones, and differential diagnosis of back pain.
The annual Pain Educators Forum (PEF) will consist of 2 days and 12 hours of clinical and educational courses. This year, we are adding several new topics. Among them is, “Pain Terminology: Knowing the Difference Makes a Difference.” This will provide a useful and practical introduction to the complex world of pain management. Also featured will be the following 2 hour sessions, “Teaching the 5 Pain Coping Skills” by Ted W. Jones, PhD, CPE, and “Pain Management Tele-Mentoring for Remote Providers: Project ECHO Chronic Pain Program” with Joanne Katzman, MD and George Comerci, MD from the University of New Mexico ECHO Pain Clinic.
SV: Can you tell us about the faculty who will be participating in PAINWeek 2013?
DW: PAINWeek faculty includes, Charles Argoff, MD, CPE, Jennifer Bolen, JD; Michael Bottros, MD, Daniel B. Carr, MD, FABPM, Gregory Carter, MD, Martin Cheatle, PhD, Michael R. Clark, MD; Colleen Fitzgerald, MD; David M. Glick, DC, DASPE, CPE, Jeffrey A. Gudin, MD, R. Norman Harden, MD; Howard W. Heit, MD, Gary W. Jay, MD, Joanne Lowey, LCAT, MT-BC; Sri Nalamachu, MD, Steven D. Passik, PhD; David Patterson, PhD, John Peppin, MD; James Ray, PharmD, BCPS, CPE, Ilene R. Robeck, MD; Michael Schatman, PhD; Forest Tennant, MD; Mary Lynn McPherson, PharmD, CPE, FASPE; Joseph Pergolizzi, MD; Victor Rosenfeld, MD, Kevin L. Zacharoff, MD, FACPE; Stephen J. Ziegler, PhD, JD; among others.
SV: Will attendees be able to sit for the ASPE’s Certified Pain Educator (CPE) credentialing exam at PAINWeek this year?
DW: Yes, PAINWeek 2013 will have this available. Interested clinicians should refer to www.paineducators.org for more information on submitting applications for review.
SV: Are there any special registration discounts for PainEDU members? If so, how can people learn more about this conference and register?
DW: We are offering a special discounted registration to PainEDU members for $349 that will be extended until June 1, 2013 (current registration fee is $459 and will increase to $499, then to $599).
To register for PAINWeek 2013 please visit www.painweek.org and use source code: PWPEDU.