Discover Your True Potential Through the 2012 Palatucci Advocacy Leadership Forum

July 26, 2011


AAN members have until September 18 to complete their applications to attend the 10th Annual Donald M. Palatucci Advocacy Leadership Forum. The event will be held in Austin, TX, January 12 to 15, 2012. This award-winning training program is open to international members as well as those in the United States.

Participating in the Palatucci Advocacy Leadership Forum can be a life-changing experience. Elaine C. Jones, MD, FAAN, attended the first event in January 2003. She recently discussed her reasons for applying and recalled overcoming her initial trepidation as she embarked on a fulfilling journey that helped her rise to the position of the chair of the AAN's Government Relations Committee:

I wasn't really sure exactly what it was but I was intrigued by the word "advocate" and wanted to take a larger role in my profession. There are tons of reasons to get involved in the PALF program and for me it was about professional development. I truly had no idea what I was getting into or where it would lead. Prior to this program I hadn't been involved in the Academy other than attending some Annual Meetings. When I was accepted I was excited but a bit nervous because I didn't know what would be expected of me. When I went to the first reception it was a little scary because I didn't know anyone! It took about five minutes for the butterflies to go away. Few people knew each other. Everyone was excited and interested in learning about each other. The AAN staff leading the program was friendly, excited, and reassuring. They made a point to engage people, explain what was expected of us, and emphasize that this was going to be a FUN weekend.

It was one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences of my professional life. I came away energized and with a whole new set of skills. I had also made some friends who, to this day remain close, both personally and professionally.

The skills I learned that year and in subsequent years have helped me develop in a professional direction that I never imagined. So many doctors complain about the way our profession is heading. We have less time with patients, less autonomy, less satisfaction, and yes, less income. I am trying to be part of the solution rather than continuing to let others take more control. Whether someone wants to improve access to care for a certain patient group, develop support for patients and families, or change regulations that affect our field and our patients, the training at the Palatucci Forum will give them skills and resources to do this. The AAN leaders and staff, the training at the Palatucci Forum, and the connections/friends made during the weekend will aid any neurologist in pursuing these improvements.

Finally, I like to point out that no one should be afraid of failure. I still have not been fully successful in my initial Forum project. My project was to reconcile two neurology professional societies in Rhode Island back into one. I wanted to re-energize and strengthen our professional group by getting rid of a "town-gown" split that had occurred many years ago. While this hasn't completely happened yet, we collaborate more, meet jointly more, and continue to work towards a single stronger voice for neurology in our state. I have learned that success may come in other forms than you first expected. From starting down this road, many other opportunities and projects have come up for which I have been successful. Thanks to the Palatucci Forum, I realize that trying and failing is better than never trying at all. Who knows where it may lead? I am now the chair of the Government Relations Committee for the AAN. I certainly didn't foresee that when I showed up at that first evening reception. Sometimes all you have to do is take the first step.

Across the world, 270 AAN-trained advocates have been changing lives and improving their profession in significant and lasting ways. Palatucci Forum graduates have successfully advocated for new stroke care centers and time-saving telemedicine initiatives. They have fought for patients to have access to a wider range of antiepileptic drugs, against scope of practice intrusions, and for medical liability reform. Many of these neurologists had no prior advocacy or leadership experience, but they quickly gained confidence and skills through this comprehensive award-winning program. And many, like Jones, have gone on to be leaders in Academy activities.

Applications close September 18. Learn more and apply today.

For more information, contact Melissa Larson at or (651) 695-2748.