INTERVIEW WITH MICKE BROWN, RN – QUESTION #3

Dr. Lynn Webster [Dr. Webster]: Hello, this is Dr. Lynn Webster. Thank you for listening to this Pain Topics series of interviews on LynnWebsterMD.com. Today I am joined by Micke Brown again; she is Corporate Secretary & Steering Committee Chair of ThePainCommunity.org. Micke is a registered nurse with experience in clinical advisement, communications, consumer and health care professional education, advocacy and business management. Again, thank you for joining me Micke.

My question for you today is, ‘how can people in pain elevate their voice in a noisy environment about prescription drug abuse?’

Micke Brown [Micke]: I tell you that this is going to be a particular challenge particularly because I think that people with pain need to be able to speak up and share their stories but they are afraid. Their fears are legitimate that I have never considered before when we were first starting to really get engaged in the advocacy world around pain and its treatment. I have heard from patients that they would love to be able to speak up but they are so afraid that if they do and that the spotlight gets shined on them, they might offend their current healthcare provider and get dropped which really shocked me. Even if they were not necessarily going to someone who is the best person for them and maybe their only option and they are afraid of that loss. Another is that some of them fear being potential targets for criminal activity whether they’re taking pain medication or not, they may feel that somebody might think that because they’re in pain, they might be taking pain medications and then might be robbed or be stopped or be even threatened. So, that’s an interesting dilemma to have to keep in mind.

I think that some of the things that we can do is teaching them and coaching people with pain that they can make a difference in their lives and the lives of others in even small ways that can be powerful. Even if they do it in a way that they can be anonymous and combat that fear of loss or of not being safe. One of the ways they can do that is be working through the online community that we have at the Pain Community or working with other support groups where the groups are smaller and more closed and more intimate. That can help give them this jumpstart of “I can do this,” “I have a degree of power that I wasn’t aware I had,” that “I can make a difference to another human being or even to myself where I’m not judged.” So they can start small. They can look at what’s going on in their own communities. For example, I’ve become very actively involved in the overdose prevention planning. Every county in the state of Maryland has an Overdose Prevention Plan and I took an opportunity to be there and to make sure that people with pain had a voice and weren’t being focused on as the problem. But there are other coalitions that are engaged in communities like Healthy Community Coalition. There is the Aging Community Coalition. There are things that are going on in schools and places of worship, and even family and neighborhood gatherings are opportunities where people with pain can really talk with one another or talk to their family members or just tell their story in small ways or get people to better understand that there are concerns out there that they need their help with. I think that could be really an opportunity to for them to become engaged and to outreach and become more active and build them towards a meaningful life. I think that the one thing that I think resonates with people with pain as well as those that have substance use disorder is that they have lost that sense of belonging and community and that they can give meaning to their own life and even their own struggles, and I think that if we can show the ways that they can share that, that builds that character and that builds that person better and it also helps them with their pain and their pain control as if their esteem has been improved.

Dr. Webster: Thank you, Micke, and thanks again for listening to this Pain Topics interview on LynnWebsterMD.com. Please check back soon for another question for Micke.

If you aren’t already, please follow me on Twitter @LynnRWebsterMD. Also, stay tuned to my blog for more information about my upcoming book and documentary titled The Painful Truth, to be released this fall.


Micke A. Brown, BSN, RN

Ms. Brown is a nationally known pain management nurse and experienced patient advocate. In March 2013, she was invited to join a team at the University of Maryland, School of Pharmacy as the program director to coordinate the grant activities related to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), entitled “Controlled Dangerous Substance (CDS) Emergency Preparedness Plan”. This grant was issued by the Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (DHMH) to cover the period of March 15, 2013 through March 14, 2018. Mary Lynn McPherson PharmD, Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science and Kathryn L. Walker, Pharm.D., Assistant Professor serve as the principal investigators (PI); together this team works closely with the Maryland Behavioral Health Administration (BHA), expert advisers from the medical fields of pain management, substance use and mental health disorders along with local health departments and affected communities who experience an abrupt loss of a CDS prescriber.

Brown also serves as the Corporate Secretary of the Board of Directors and Team Coordinator for The Pain Community (TPC), a non-profit, consumer-focused pain organization based out of Alamo, California. Using her experience and commitment to quality pain care, she is working with other TPC volunteers to develop this national nonprofit organization whose mission is to build and strengthen an active, diverse and energized community of people affected by pain by providing a foundation of support where education, wellness information and advocacy are promoted. She is the former Director of Communications & Consumer Education for American Pain Foundation (APF) and Past President of the American Society for Pain Management Nursing (ASPMN).

Micke Brown is a registered pain management nurse, who received her bachelor of science in nursing degree from the University of Florida, Gainesville, along with advanced credentials in acute pain management from Schumpert Medical Center, Shreveport, Louisiana. Ms. Brown has more than 35 years experience in nursing, with 20 years in the specialty of pain management. Her career as a pain management nurse and pain advocate has included caring for and educating individuals and their families living with pain, training health care professionals about pain management and speaking out for those affected by pain in the media, during legislative hearings and with other decision makers about issues that impede access to quality pain care.

Her contributions to the American Pain Foundation (APF) were extensive. Ms. Brown helped develop and guide communications as well as educational services that provided key information for APF members and the general public while also serving as the clinical advisor to APF staff and volunteers. Micke’s advocacy work included working closely with the FDA safe use initiative on patient-provider agreements, presenting to a variety of professional and consumer audiences, (e.g. serving on a panel with the DEA, lecturing with representatives from the DOD and the VA alongside injured veterans at national meetings, co-presented with pain advocates living with pain), collaborating with staff from the National Institutes of Health (NNCAM) in the development of safe use education for complementary-alternative medicines and leading stakeholder meetings on breakthrough cancer pain.

Micke has contributed to the medical literature as co-author for the chapter on social, political and ethical forces that impact pain management nursing practice published in the 2010 edition of ASPMN Core Curriculum, a chapter about navigating pain care for the older adult for Gloth’s 2011 edition Handbook of Pain Relief in Older Adults, An Evidence-Based Approach and another that covers educating patients and caregivers about pain management for the clinician in Moore’s 2012 Handbook of Pain and Palliative Care.

Ms. Brown has volunteered on several non-profit boards: the Maryland Pain Initiative (MPI), Hospice of Washington County (Maryland), and was elected as the 2003-2004 president of the American Society for Pain Management Nursing (ASPMN), a professional organization dedicated to promoting the advancement of optimal nursing care for people affected by pain. In 2006, she was honored with Richard S. Weiner Pain Education Fund Advocacy for People with Pain Award from the American Academy of Pain Management which is given to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to assisting and advocating for people with pain.

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