Hospice, Hashtags, and Hot Sauce

“I’m sitting on a prop plane that smells like ranch dressing.” I texted my brother on the way home from #hpm13. His reply? “Hold your nose and hope for the best.”

Little did I know that I was the kind soul who provided the fifty seater with the odiferous presence of ranch dressing. The bottle of “Bayou Butt Burner Hot Sauce” that I snagged in New Orleans as a souvenir for my husband apparently could not withstand the pressure of my several journals worth of CME. That bag, saturated with seven dollars worth of ranchy, bayou goodness, still sits in the garage waiting for me to clean it up, a memory of a wonderful trip to New Orleans with an equally wonderful group of people.

On reporting on my trip, my boss said, “Yeah, it’s nice to go to those things. They’re energizing, but nothing ever comes of them in practice.” I agree in part; it IS nice to attend AAHPM’s annual conference. My goal for this year’s post-conference blues is to pick three areas of my home hospice practice in need of attention, and improve on them based on what I learned this year at AAHPM’s national conference.

So where to begin? First off, in trying to rehash tidbits for colleagues, I found myself searching my brain for tips, quips, or pearls handed to me this week. But where were they? As I sat, pondering, twirling my achy thumbs, it came to me.


As a TweetPro for this year’s conference, my tidbits are all on my twitter profile. I tweeted everything I heard that stood out to me, favorited others’ tweets, and retweeted the gems from the seminars I couldn’t attend. Now, they’re all there for me to savor. Pearls of wisdom, line by line, in 140 characters or less.

In all honestly, I took a lot of grief for being a TweetPro. A lot of people just don’t get it. Friends of mine from other sectors of life took offense to my overhaul of their twitter feed. My own family members texted me messages of hospice and palliative medicine exhaustion! But there were far more who did get it, who learned a thing or two, and who thanked me for the record-keeping. The TweetPro title encouraged us to spread the twitter-love to all those wishing to try, which allowed for fast information sharing and extensive networking. Within sessions, the role focused my mind on the topic being discussed, allowed me to engage quickly (and quietly) with others in other rooms and other states, answer questions, ask questions, and solidify the knowledge I was recording. Live tweeting the conference amplified my experience within the assembly, not only academically but socially as well.

Here comes the hard part. Now that I have the knowledge recorded permanently for the world to see, I have to figure out how to make it useful closer to home. I could just rest, knowing I’m a bit smarter now and that my CME hours are climbing, but that does nobody but me any good. I figure I can best benefit my patients by sharing the HPM love with my team of nurses, social workers, and chaplains.

Perhaps the best thing to come of my time in New Orleans was the time away from work to reflect on my patients and my experiences, both personal and professional, and how they affect me as a person and as a physician. In an attempt to share some of what I learned, I aim to be more supportive of my team and more accountable to my families. This is the type of goal that is fueled by the energy provided by both the AAHPM members and assembly.

Thank you to everyone who attended the AAHPM Annual Assembly in New Orleans this year. Each person in attendance helped me recognize that there are thousands of us who share in the same passion, and that it’s a passion worth fighting for.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, my practice, like my bag, waits patiently to be cleaned.

Bethany C. Calkins, MD

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