Public Release: 

Neurologists take on challenge of advocacy work

American Academy of Neurology

ST. PAUL, MN- Orla Hardiman, MD, a neurologist with the Irish Institute of Clinical Neuroscience, was selected as the American Academy of Neurology's first Palatucci Advocacy Leader of the Year for her work to improve national services for neurological patients. A founding member of the Neurological Alliance of Ireland, Hardiman was honored at the second annual Palatucci Advocacy Leadership Forum, held January 8 - 11 in Dana Point, Calif.

Sponsored by the American Academy of Neurology's Center for Health Policy, the Palatucci Advocacy Leadership Forum provides formal advocacy training and leadership development to neurologists each year. The 2004 Forum prepared 30 neurologists from 16 states and three countries to serve as "Advocacy Leaders" on vital local, state and federal neurology issues.

The new leaders worked with 16 mentors from last year's program. Courses on legislative advocacy, media training, and facilitating organization change were included.

Neurologists identified the following critical issues facing neurologists and patient care: Medicare payments, medical liability reform, neurological workforce shortages (particularly child neurologists), protecting time with patients, funding for research and treatment, drug costs, and lack of patient access to health care.

According to Hardiman: "The role of the neurologist has changed radically over the past 20 years. It is vitally important that we develop the services for people with neurological disabilities to the highest standards attainable, and that we educate our colleagues in medicine and in administration as to the benefits of high quality neurological care."

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The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 18,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as stroke, Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, autism and multiple sclerosis.

For more information about the American Academy of Neurology and the Palatucci Advocacy Leadership Forum, visit http://www.aan.com/advocacy/index.cfm.

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