Denise Wishner's "Challenge" and the Inaugural Change AGEnts Conference

Denise Wishner and Nancy Dudley at the Change AGEnts Conference

Pictured here: Denise Wishner and Nancy Dudley at the Change AGEnts Conference

Denise Wishner, Nancy Dudley, and Schola Matovu, all UCSF doctoral students, are John A. Hartford Foundation Change AGEnts. They joined more than 150 other Change AGEnts at the initiative’s inaugural conference in Philadelphia in December. 

In 2013, the Foundation launched its Hartford Change AGEnts Initiative to help accelerate sustained practice and policy change. This interdisciplinary effort leverages the Foundation’s powerful network, helps its scholars and grantees learn from and support one another, and works directly on changes in practice and service delivery that improve the health of older Americans.

Denise has this to say about her experience at the conference:

I applied to attend the inaugural Change AGEnt Conference to help me solve the ongoing problem of getting primary care providers to speak to their patients about end-of-life choices before the time of need or crisis.  This was the “Challenge” I presented in my application.  Once accepted for the conference, I joined other professionals with similar challenges or expertise in a Consultancy Group to problem-solve. It was an inspiring experience to present and obtain feedback from an incredibly knowledgeable inter-professional group and in turn receive an array of possible solutions to take back to my community.

The inaugural Change AGEnt conference was two and a halfdays filled with multiple interactive concurrent workshops. Some examples are: Building a Business Case for Geriatrics; Building One’s Voice; Building Public Will through Traditional and Social Media; Persuasive Value Propositions; and Connecting and Moving Change through Stories. I found great value in the session Building One’s Voice: Establishing Thought Leadership. As a student interested in policy, but not in the policy tract, I turned to the course for direction on how to promote my new ideas and integrated them into the awareness of others to gain their support and/or access to needed resources.

The Change AGEnt conference was one of the most inclusive conferences that I have ever attended. I felt welcomed and valued and met many professionals whose work I had studied, referenced in writings, and whose reputation preceded them who were very open to conversation. I received consultancy advice from professionals across the country, some who have model programs in place. I left with several connections, all with whom I will certainly stay in touch. 

In addition to my personal connections, all Change AGEnts are now connected through the Change AGEnts Community, which includes a dedicated Online Platform and website. This will enable us to easily  contact one another, share success stories, and/or be informed about new developments and help us all continue to innovate. I look forward to incorporating successful practices from other institutions into mine.