INTERVIEW WITH MICKE BROWN, RN – QUESTION #4

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, the 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. Micke has been with me before. Hello, Micke, thank you again for joining me today.

My question for you today is, ‘how can ThePainCommunity.org be helpful to the overall, general pain community?’

Micke Brown [Micke]: Just to give you a little history, back in May of 2012, the American Pain Foundation went bankrupt, which was a very sad time for many of us who have either had a long working history within that organization or advocates. One of things that the American Pain Foundation had was a very strong and active online community called Pain Aid. Several key staff, former staff and pain advocates were very concerned that these people were being abandoned and we felt very strongly that we would not be able to live with ourselves if that were allowed to happen. So we got together pretty quickly and actually started to work with an organization called the Women with Pain Coalition and the board was very generous in allowing us to become the ‘doing business as’ and actually are working off their 501(c)(3) as a national nonprofit. So this organization is staffed with people who are pain advocates, living with pain and then some of us who have been in the pain field for a while. Our goal is to provide a safe haven, a place where people can get support who live with pain or care for people with pain online, privately, where they can really share their struggles, not be dismissed for their concerns and also be able to regain trust in others who really want to try to make pain and its treatment a lot more improved than it is right now. And we try to help them also heal from that sense of abandonment and loss they felt when the American Pain Foundation and the National Pain Foundation support groups closed their doors. So, our goal is to really help individuals learn how to work with their providers as a team and to find out what is going to be the pain care plan that works best for them. We believe strongly that it needs to be patient- and relationship-centered that there is an ongoing relationship between the healthcare provider and the patient, and there are other providers that are part of their care so that we are integrating both what we would call traditional pain management strategies along with the other supportive strategies that are there that we’ve learned from the complimentary alternative methods and such. So integrating care, making sure it is patient-centered and relationship-centered, and then teach and coach them on how to work towards their version of what wellness will be again and help them find meaning in their lives. We felt pretty strongly that the traditional medical model was not working as effectively as it could be. I see that in other chronic illnesses like hypertension and diabetes and such. If the person affected by that condition is not doing things, eating well, moving around, trying to be active and trying to improve their lives and improve their condition besides taking the medications and doing the things that their providers are asking them to do, they won’t be successful and so that’s the same with pain. If you live with pain, you have to be working as hard as or harder than your healthcare providers in trying to get your life back and getting a better successful treatment plan. So, that’s where we come from.

Dr. Webster: Yes, to be active and not passive.

Micke: Exactly, exactly. You have to walk the walk. Exactly. And then we also really want to teach people how to stand up for themselves. How to stand up, how to speak out and be proud that they are strong and there are ways that you can be strong and you can be effective without offending people, without being overly defensive as some people can be when they’re desperate but to let them know that there are people there to help them, practice and coach them if you have to in how you have the right type of dialogue with your variety of healthcare providers that you are going to be seeing because it’s not just going to be not just one person helping you create that pain plan. There’s going to be many others and you need to be able to be working with that team very cohesively, I think.

Dr. Webster: Micke, how do people find your community and tell me about the funding. How are you funded?

Micke: Okay. To become a member, it’s now free so all you have to do is to go http://www.paincommunity.org/ and go on to register and you can register as a member and that will give you access into our online chats. We have discussion forums. We have blogs that come out every Tuesday. We have an electronic newsletter that comes out – we were quarterly and we are getting ready to go monthly. The quarterly one will be out actually this week. Our funding right now has been purely based off of member donations and entrepreneurial donations. We’re in the process of going for some foundation grants and such. We have intentionally not gone after pharmaceutical funding right now, not that we couldn’t. We decided that in order for us to consider getting funded from any type of private business, for example, we want to make sure that it’s a very low percentage of the money that is coming in so we feel very strongly that we have to build up donations from entrepreneurs and very generous people out there that are willing to help us and feel that the work that we are doing is worthwhile funding.

Dr. Webster: Well, I do think that the work you’re doing is worthwhile, so I hope that everyone who listens to this or reads your comments here will go to www.paincommunity.org and register and contribute.

Micke: Oh, that would be lovely. It really would, because right now, we’re an all-volunteer staff. I’d love to see the day where we can actually have some dedicated staff so we can continue to build more programs and to be more available for people and their needs because we have some really creative ideas that we’re coming up with to help support that person that lives with pain.

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 that Micke will address.

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. Have a great day!


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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