Written by Joni Fontenot, RN
The RNS Baton Rouge chapter began in October 2018, and we made one of our goals to be an active participating group in events throughout our community. We want to spread the word about the RNS and what they are about but also be a local resource for Rheumatology Healthcare providers in our community, patients, and patient’s families.
Since joining the rheumatology field, I realized very early on that rheumatologic conditions, and the patients who are affected by them are genuine. They do not get the credit, awareness, validation they deserve, and the circumstances do not discriminate. I was very fortunate to attend the RNS Conference in Fort Worth last year. I met some fantastic people and learned so much more about Rheumatology. It was inspiring to know that there are people out there as passionate as I am about Rheumatology and being a nurse. From there, my fire was fueled to want to do something more for myself, my co-workers, our community, and most of all, the patients who are affected by Rheumatologic Conditions.
I began the process of starting up an RNS Chapter after coming back from the RNS Conference, and as of October 2018, it was official. It is such an exciting thing to do, have, and be a part of when you have support from co-workers, MDs/PAs, family, and patients. It truly keeps the motivation going. I knew that growing our chapter would take time, but that is something I was okay with since I tend to want things to be in order and very organized. People who know me know that if I am going to do something the right way.
As we would have the Chapter Leader Conference calls our RNS Baton Rouge Chapter evolved more and more. When I started seeing the advertisement for the 2019 Arthritis Walk in Baton Rouge, I knew that would be something amazing to do. It would give us a chance to have the honor of representing and promoting the RNS and our chapter, and participate in something so beneficial for the Arthritis Foundation.
The Friday before the Arthritis Walk I went set up our table. After it was set up, I stepped back and just looked at the table for a couple of minutes with a happy tear in my eye seeing all the RNS stuff on it. I remember thinking, “We are doing it; this is happening; we are making it happen.” As simple as something like this seems to some, it is such a big win for our chapter, our Community, our patients, and everyone involved in the Rheumatology World.
When I arrived at the Arthritis Walk the Saturday morning before the event kicked off, there were people all around the RNS table who wanted more information about the RNS and our chapter. It was the most rewarding feeling seeing people outwardly excited about the RNS having a presence in Baton Rouge. I met retired nurses who asked if they could become a member of the RNS, people in the healthcare field that are affected by Rheumatologic conditions, and Pharmaceutical Reps who extended offers to help get our chapter more evolved. This was a totally unexpected, but very welcomed overall response. Participating in the Arthritis Walk was one of the best things, and we cannot wait to participate in more events like this.
Making sure patients get the care, treatment, disease awareness, and education they deserve is a huge factor in their world where this can be foreign and scary to them and people closest to them. That goes hand in hand with patients having Rheumatologic providers, nurses, and staff who are educated about Rheumatologic Conditions, who can be a resource and voice that the patients want, need and deserve. It’s little things that can go such a long way. Our chapter is very passionate and motivated. We have made wishing to do more become a reality and knowing that we can make a difference has become a full-time purpose 🙂