Palatucci Events

By Wolfgang Grisold and Javier Cardenas

In May 2018, the Palatucci Advocacy Leadership Forum (PALF) took place May 16-20 at the Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego. The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) has a longstanding initiative to promote advocacy and leadership by inviting interested colleagues from the United States with international participation. These events are called Palatucci Events after Dr. Donald Palatucci who was an early founder of this idea. They offer a comprehensive  program on patient advocacy.

Palatucci Events teach  and  encourage participants to engage in learning advocacy and in practical engagement in regard to advocacy for patients and neurology. This activity started in 2001, and has recruited a network of Palatucci/PALF graduates.

The participants are from all age groups of practicing and training neurologists and bring an interesting mixture of professional knowledge and experience of both academic and practice level. The participants are divided into groups. Each group has a tutor who discusses with his/her group the participants and their work. Prior to the meeting, the participants need to develop a project, which is exposed to discussion and advice during the meeting. This is a valuable experience to create, promote, and subject projects to different people and to a different audience. In the follow-up of the Palatucci meetings, participants are encouraged to share the experience of their work. Positive developments and equally important roadblocks and setback are discussed.

One of the most important tasks is communication. Interviews with the press, the importance of short messages (sound bites) is taught and actively trained with professionals.

In addition to press news and communication, essentials about how to talk, discuss, and negotiate with politicians is thoroughly discussed. This content is important and helps to understand the mechanisms  in politics.

Being invited to testify and being able to present a case was part of an intensive training.

In addition to the tutors, a faculty of experienced Palatucci graduates were invited. They were able to share their often exciting experience in advocacy.

At this meeting, Representative Scott Peters of California talked about himself and interacted with the participants by engaging in communication. This activity shows that the content and the ideation of these Palatucci courses are highly specific and aim in the direction of interaction with policymakers, local authorities, and with policymaking on “The Hill.” The Palatucci courses demonstrate that being a good neurologist is not enough. Part of the agenda is to advocate for patients and, in the long term, for neurology. Advocacy and communication are important tools in neurology.

For several years, starting in Thailand, the World Federation of Neurology has had a regular American Academy joint World Federation Palatucci Meeting at its World Congresses of Neurology (WCN), which usually involves a full day of work devoted to project development, how to make a stand, how to present in press and how to appear in legal situations. This part of Palatucci is only a small copy of the American Academy of Neurology Palatucci Event but follows its pattern and is led by experts who are able to attend the Palatucci meeting. The idea still needs promotion and advocacy, and all levels of neurology are needed to promote neurology. •