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Discover the Power of Connection: Why You Should Attend the AAKP National Patient Meeting

By Jennifer Jones, USMC Veteran, AAKP Vice President, Ambassador, and two-time transplant recipient

Are you looking for an incredible opportunity to learn, connect, and make a difference in the kidney patient community? Then please join us at this year’s 48th Annual AAKP National Patient Meeting happening September 20-22, 2023, virtually on AAKP’s sophisticated and interactive online event platform! This highly anticipated event brings together patients, care partners, healthcare professionals, industry experts, federal agency representatives, and more. Each year’s event creates a vibrant and supportive environment that empowers individuals affected by kidney diseases. This article will explore why participating in this event can be a life-changing experience; engaging topics and skill training that will be available; the interactive features of the virtual event platform; and most importantly, highlight the opportunity to connect with fellow kidney patients like YOU.

Jennifer Jones, USMC Veteran, AAKP Vice President, Ambassador, and two-time transplant recipient

1. Diverse Topics to Broaden Your Knowledge

The AAKP National Patient Meeting covers a wide range of topics, providing invaluable insights into kidney disease-related policy and legislation, research and clinical trials, innovation and technology, diet and nutrition, maintaining a healthy mind and body, associated health conditions many kidney patients face, and much more.

I attended my first National Patient Meeting, Driving Innovation & Changing the Status Quo, in 2019, held in Washington D.C. It was also AAKP’s 50th anniversary celebration! As a patient advocate, my goal is to enhance the lives of fellow patients. To achieve this, I felt it was crucial to gain knowledge about the kidney space and effectively use my voice on Capitol Hill, among healthcare professionals, and within the industry. I joined the AAKP Ambassador Program earlier that year and immediately became immersed in the work the organization is involved in because I believed in the mission and saw AAKP as the independent patient voice for the kidney community.

The patient meeting was like a deep dive into patient engagement in all the arenas I wanted to become more involved in. At the end of the event, I felt fully equipped and truly inspired by the work that went into putting the meeting together by the AAKP patient meeting committee, then-President Richard Knight, Immediate Past President and Chair of Policy and Global Affairs Paul Conway, and the amazing staff. I knew that I made the right decision to become a part of this organization.

2. Engaging Agenda for an Unforgettable Experience

The AAKP National Patient Meeting agenda is thoughtfully designed to provide a mix of educational sessions, legislative and policy updates, emerging innovations, advocacy and skills training, and networking opportunities. Some highlights include:

• The latest in kidney disease legislation, research, and innovation: learn about exciting advancements in treatments, breakthrough research findings, and the ever-evolving landscape of kidney care. It’s like getting a backstage pass to kidney updates straight from the experts themselves.

• Breakout sessions: allow you to customize your meeting experience! Participate in breakout sessions that are of most interest to you, where you can learn practical skills, engage in discussions, and gain a deeper understanding of various aspects of kidney disease.

• General sessions: hear from a diverse panel of patient and medical experts who openly discuss topics relevant to the kidney community, providing unique perspectives and insights.

• Exhibitor and Sponsor Hall: explore the virtual exhibition space, where you can interact with pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, and other non-profit organizations.

• Interactive Opportunities: don’t miss everything else the event platform has to offer such as a fun Virtual Photo Booth where you can take a selfie with event-themed backgrounds; the Network Lounge that allows you to talk with fellow attendees; a Discussion Board to share your thoughts and questions throughout the event; and the Social Media Wall to see what’s trending online!

3. Patient Engagement and Supportive Community

Whether hosted in-person or virtually, the AAKP National Patient Meeting is not just an event, but a platform for building connections and fostering a sense of belonging within the kidney patient community. Here’s how attending can enhance your patient experience:

• Networking Opportunities: meet fellow patients, care partners, and advocates from across the country —and even across the world! You’ll form friendships and support networks that can last a lifetime.

• One-On-One Discussions: engage in conversations with healthcare professionals, industry experts, and fellow patient leaders, gaining personalized advice, insights, and encouragement.

• Peer Support: share your own experiences and learn from others who have faced similar challenges, finding comfort and reassurance in the shared journey of kidney disease.

At my first meeting, I volunteered as a moderator for a couple of the breakout sessions and helped fellow patients use the Social Media Center to take pictures and videos while at the event to share online. I had the opportunity to connect with so many amazing individuals who helped me not feel so alone in my kidney journey anymore. It felt like I had found a family who I still treasure to this day.

I was also asked to be a breakout session speaker with my fellow AAKP Ambassador (and kidney sister!) Sharron Rouse on a session called “Building a Local and Online Community.” I helped educate fellow patients on how creating an online community can connect them to individuals who share similar experiences, share their stories to inspire and educate others, and could even help them find a living donor as it did for me. To be able to be in a space where I learned so much and had the opportunity to support and educate others gave me a sense of purpose that I haven’t felt in such a long time.

To look back at where I was then in 2019 to now in 2023 as the vice president of AAKP is an honor. My role as a patient advocate and leader has been shaped by this organization and attending the National Patient Meetings contributed in a major way. I’m very excited to meet and connect with fellow patients again!

The AAKP National Patient Meeting is an extraordinary opportunity for kidney patients, care partners, and advocates to come together, learn, and create lasting connections. Through its diverse topics, engaging agenda, and supportive community, this event has
the potential to transform your perspective, empower you with knowledge, and provide you with the support you need to be an informed patient advocate within the kidney space.

Will you register? 

Visit bit.ly/AAKPNPMRegistration.