The 2019 Southern Pain Society Conference – A Most Memorable Event

Ann Colwell-Quinlan, PhD, APN

The 2019 Southern Pain Society (SPS) conference was held September 13 through 15 in New Orleans.  We enjoyed reconnecting with those who attended previous conferences and meeting a number of first-time attendees. It was great to have a new attendee share that “this is great – so much better than I ever expected.” 

This was definitely a conference during which it would be difficult to find someone who didn’t learn at least a few new things and/or wasn’t encouraged to think about things in a new way.  A slate of well-informed speakers shared their knowledge with the attendees. 

The speakers enlightened us about the various new perspectives and options of integrated pain care.  The conference commenced on Friday afternoon with Dr. Blake Fagin providing education on prescribing controlled substances as well as how to appropriately treat patients with Substance use disorder.  Using numerous examples, he made the Louisiana mandated three hour Controlled Dangerous Substance education enjoyable while meeting the state requirements for content.  Dr. Steven Stanos opened the Saturday program by escorting us through the history of how pain professionals arrived at a new crossroads of pain management.  He then led us to comprehensively provide safe pain care.  Appreciation for and aspects of comprehensive pain management were discussed from a psychological aspect by Dr. Jennifer Murphy.  Then Dr. Jeffrey Sibrack explored the role of the endogenous opioid system with pain management. 

We learned about some innovative options on the horizon.  Dr. Ashley Mullens updated the group on the Therapeutic Cannabis Program at the LSU AgCenter including some very interesting research studies using cannabis with zebra fish and rodents.  A very timely evidence based presentation about using stem cells for pain management was given by Dr. Amadeus Mason.  Then Dr. Forest Tennant explored the role of hormones in pain control.  Monique Serpas, PT, DPT shared the various analgesic techniques used by physical therapists. She and Dr. Stanos both discussed the importance of function in pain control. In a sense Dr. Dan Doleys brought us full circle by updating on screening for opioid use disorder prior to starting opioids.  We concluded with Dr. Charles Figley educating us about and encouraging us to pursue commitments to self-care personally and to support other members of SPS in pursuing the same for themselves.  We also were fortunate to view several excellent posters.

For me our annual business meeting was an amazing event.  First, I had the pleasure to present the President’s Award for Distinguished Service to the SPS to Dr. Thomas Davis who has served as secretary of SPS for many years as well as co-chair of this amazing 2019 conference.  During that time Dr. Davis has always had a calm, even, well-balanced approach to any issue that arose. Then, Dr. John Satterwaite presented the 2019 Hubert L. and Renee S. Rosomoff Award for Excellence in Pain.  I can only remember having an intense emotional response when I heard him say my name.  To say that I was speechless is an underestimation.  I doubt there is any greater honor than to be recognized for excellence by professional peers and partners.  Now that I have regained cognition, I am extremely honored and appreciative to have been selected to receive this prestigious award.  I also am very appreciative for all of the wonderful teachers, mentors, peers and especially patients who have taught me so much about working with people who live with pain.   It certainly is incentive to continue to work with SPS to pursue our mission “to serve people with pain by advancing research and treatment and to increase the knowledge and skill of the regional professional community.” 

My appreciation also goes to our planning committee led by Drs. Geralyn Datz and Thomas Davis; the SPS board, our Executive Director Lori Postal, the amazing presenters, Lisa and Wilma from MAHEC; and Chris Hall who did his magic with the audio visuals  for all of their efforts in making the 2019 SPS conference a fantastic experience.