RNS Member Karen McKerihan attends NICA’s Inaugural Annual Conference

A post by Karen McKerihan

I am a nurse practitioner (NP) and Director of Infusion Services for a large rheumatology practice in South Carolina. I started my journey as a NP after 25 years as a registered nurse (RN).  Never did I imagine I would find myself managing personnel and a valuable service line in a specialty such as rheumatology along with caring for patients in an NP role. I also never imagined that my role would involve marketing, educating patients and nurses, and navigating communication between stakeholders of my department.  With that said, the National Infusion Center Association (NICA) conference could not have been more timely as I continue to develop in my role and increase growth in an already established infusion practice.

Our office became members of NICA just as information for their annual meeting began surfacing.  A coworker, Caitlyn, whose role is administratively complementary of mine, and I perused the agenda and knew this was an event we needed to attend, and our boss was eager to send us – he, too, attended the conference as an exhibitor for our practice’s group purchasing organization (GPO).  Although the conference sessions catered to both administrators and clinicians, there were a few sessions that interested both Caitlyn and me. We decided, however, to ‘divide and conquer’ the sessions.

The sessions on ‘Best and Worst Infusion Practices’ and ‘Growing Your Infusion Services Through Referrals’ provided advice from individuals that have been in the field longer than I have. Many of their tips and suggestions affirmed the direction for which I am taking our infusion center and provided insight to things I may not have considered.  NICA also rolled out their new document, ‘Minimum Standards for Infusion Centers.’ This document is available on their website and provides excellent guidance on policies and procedures that each infusion center should have. As the Director of Infusion Services, I educate and empower a team of RNs to provide our patients with the safest and highest quality care. The document confirmed many of the processes and policies we have in place and directed us to policies that either need to be developed or updated.

Caitlyn and I look forward to returning to #NICA2020 in Dallas and hope to bring along representatives of our billing and prior authorizations departments, as there was much about the conference that addressed those issues as well.  I encourage others in the infusion arena, or those interested in learning more about infusion, to attend as well.  The opportunity to network and meet with people face-to-face that I had only otherwise met over the phone was marvelous!