Advance Online
A photo of Abby Van Voorhees, M.D., chairwoman of the NPF medical board, with medical illustrations.
Advance Online

What NPF’s History Looked Like While It Was Happening

For our inaugural Founders’ Week, our friends reminisce about the NPF of years ago.

To celebrate the work of our founders – Beverly Foster and the volunteers who launched a movement 52 years ago – we created Founders’ Week.

In honor of Founders’ Week 2020, we asked four of our longtime friends to tell us about their early days with NPF. Today: Abby Van Voorhees, M.D., chairwoman of the NPF medical board. She’s a professor and chair of dermatology at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia.

Why did you get involved with NPF?

As I started my practice and got interested in caring for patients with psoriasis, I think it became just natural to be aware of the National Psoriasis Foundation and to get involved. I can tell you my first recollection, though this may have not been the very first thing I did. You used to have a conference for patients every summer. The patients would come and learn about psoriasis and what was new and what were the various treatment options that might be available to them.

I got invited to speak at one of those conferences in Southern California around 1990. Mark Lebwohl was there. I don’t know if he was the one who invited me or whether NPF staff invited me, but that was one of my first recollections of being actively involved with NPF.

It was lovely to meet the patients. They were all there to learn. I enjoyed educating them. Also, in those days, NPF had wonderful brochures about psoriasis and how to take care of it that we found very valuable. I had a very favorable feeling about NPF, and when I was asked to join the medical board in 2007, I readily did.

Which NPF activities do you enjoy?

Being chair of the board is mostly a lot of fun. People are very cooperative, always willing to help, and full of really good ideas. They bring thoughtful comments to everything we do, whether it’s writing a paper or considering a new program, and I’ve always felt that the end product is so much better than any one of us would’ve done. It has the input of 25 or 30 other people who are extraordinarily knowledgeable. Mostly we’re just trying to see if we can improve things for patients.

What would you tell someone who is thinking of joining NPF?

To patients, I stress how important NPF has been to protecting their access to the newest medications and to insuring that insurers have transparent and broad formularies so that patients have options. I also stress to them how important it is in terms of their own education and how they can read about things in a place where I know the information is going to be scientifically sound.

I talk to providers a little differently. Here I think NPF has been so fundamental, helping us with access, to minimize some of the hassles we have in the practice of medicine and to enhance our access to medications. I really strike a somewhat more political tone when I’m trying to convince providers that they should join NPF.

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