In recognition of World Heart Day on September 29, the Dermatology Education Foundation (DEF) and the Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants (SDPA) speak with one voice to emphasize the significance of caregiver health and underscore the importance of healthcare professionals prioritizing their cardiovascular (CV) fitness.

“As nurse practitioners and physician assistants working in dermatology, our daily focus is on caring for the needs of our patients. Add in other responsibilities, such as administrative duties, caring for families and loved ones, and it’s easy to see how our own health may not be a priority. Cardiovascular disease is a comorbid condition to inflammatory diseases and dermatology conditions seen in our dermatology practices daily,” says Joe Gorelick, MSN, FNP-C, founder of the DEF.

“It’s ingrained in us as medical professionals to prioritize the health and well-being of others,” notes Laura Bush, DMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA, President of the SDPA. “We certainly have heart. But the reality is that we can’t optimize care for others when our own physical and mental health are compromised.”

The World Heart Federation says World Heart Day is, “an opportunity for everyone to stop and consider how to best use heart.” As part of a collaborative effort, SDPA and DEF encourage health care providers not only to look after their own health, but to show some heart for colleagues who may be struggling with health challenges. Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) kill more than 20.5 million individuals every year, but 80% of premature deaths from CVD are preventable. To mark World Heart Day, DEF and SDPA urge PAs and NPs to stay vigilant about recognizing the signs of CVD and adopting heart-healthy strategies.

As non-profit organizations, both SDPA and DEF provide educational opportunities and additional initiatives intended to advance care and optimize patient outcomes in dermatology. Both organizations are peer-led, uniquely enabling them to identify and effectively respond to the needs of PAs and NPs who are actively involved in dermatology patient care.

“We are excited to collaborate with the DEF on this important initiative. Since our inception, SDPA has focused on supporting DermPAs. By collaborating with DEF, we strengthen our collective voice to connect with NPs through a foundation that shares a common mindset, one that is created by NPs and PAs for the benefit of NPs and PAs,” says Ms. Bush. “This is one of many opportunities for our unique groups to work together.”

“NPs and PAs truly are at the heart of our organizations,” adds Mr. Gorelick. “Just as we encourage our colleagues to put their health needs first, we at DEF and SDPA–as individual organizations and in collaboration–will continue to put the needs of our peers first.”


Graphic shows strategies to reduce risk for CVD.