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POCN creates HIV Center of Excellence learning hub for NPs and PAs

Last month, POCN, the largest network of physician associates and nurse practitioners, launched the first HIV Center of Excellence in conjunction with HIV Awareness Month.

The Center of Excellence was born from feedback from POCN’s NP and PA ambassadors saying that when they get information about specialty areas in medicine, they want it to come from their peers. So, following on from other successful Centers of Excellence including breast cancer, bipolar disorder, multiple myeloma and schizophrenia, HIV now joins the list.

“The HIV Center of Excellence is really that content for NP/PA practitioners practicing in the infectious disease space working with HIV patients,” POCN President Ken LoCicero said. “In the NP/PA space, it’s transient—there are NPs and PAs that spend a lot of time in HIV or maybe all of their time, but there’s such a large group of new NPs and PAs graduating coming into the workforce … So the Center of Excellence really is to support in a specific specialty or treatment area.”

HIV has been an issue for ages, so why now?

LoCicero says that not only were there requests for an HIV specific Center of Excellence but also, as the treatments become more available, NPs and PAs are finding themselves as primary managers of care, and there is a need and a desire for more information on dealing with all aspects of HIV, which is not only medical but emotional as well.

Deb Nevins, POCN’s executive vice president of customer strategy, agrees and said that, for its audience, it’s not just about the science, it’s a more holistic approach.

“The COEs that we do, they really recognize that the content that’s relevant or important to the NPs and PAs is somewhat different than what would be specific to a physician. They NPs and PAs are looking for a broader set of information—it’s not only clinical for them, it’s also about the patient and about how the medication is impacting them and whether or not the patient can access the medication easily,” she said.

The need to cater to this group is only increasing and POCN plans to continue creating these Center of Excellences in any area that’s needed. LoCicero says NPs and PAs are two of the fastest growing careers in the country and the pandemic only increased the breadth of NP and PA work and expertise.

Nevins agrees: “I think that’s important for pharma to know that the pandemic has really changed the audience that they should be looking at. It’s not just about physicians, it’s about the rest of the clinicians that are available to them, including NPs and PAs, and that’s not going to change. While the the MD profession continues to decline, the NPs and PAs just continue to grow.”