Longtime UNE collaborator to receive patient advocacy award from National Academies of Practice

Photo of two veterans sitting in chairs with awards and Susan Gold posing with them
Vernon Huestis, left, and Eric Mihan, right, receive certificates of appreciation from Vet2Vet Maine executive director Susan Gold.

This year’s Patient Advocacy Award from the National Academies of Practice (NAP) will go to longtime friend and collaborator of UNE Susan Dudley Gold.

Each year, the NAP, a non-profit organization founded in 1981 to advise governmental bodies on our healthcare system, awards the honor to an outstanding individual for their transformative work as a patient advocate. Gold was nominated for the award by Shelley Cohen Konrad, Ph.D., LCSW, FNAP, director of UNE’s Center for Excellence in Collaborative Education (CECE) and a National Academies Fellow since 2014. Gold will receive the award at the NAP Annual Award in Washington, D.C., this spring.

After being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 1992, Gold founded the Chronic Pain Support Group of Southern Maine working closely with UNE’s chronic pain researchers and local advocates. She served as patient advocate for both the U.S. Pain Foundation and the Arthritis Foundation and was on the member advisory committee of the national American Chronic Pain Association.

In 2001, she received a Jefferson Award for Community Service (Maine) in the fields of health and safety for her work with the pain support group. More recently, Susan has worked closely with CECE raising students’ awareness of patient perspectives, and she has served as a national speaker and conference advisor for such organizations as the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education.

In 2022, Gold served as guest lecturer on “Chronic Pain in Real Life” as part of the UNE College Osteopathic Medicine’s “On Doctoring” series for medical students. She has also consulted with researcher Maine researcher Nananda Col, M.D., on the development of several apps for patients with various health issues, including chronic pain and multiple sclerosis.

In addition to patient advocacy, Gold has worked to support the lives of Maine’s veterans.

In 2014, she developed the Vet to Vet program at the Southern Maine Agency on Aging — incorporated in 2018 as Vet2Vet Maine (V2VME) — a nonprofit organization committed to alleviating social isolation and loneliness among Maine’s vulnerable military veterans. In 2016, the program won the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging’s Aging Achievement Award and was that same year the recipient of the Spirit of Service Award from the United Way of York County.

Additionally, Gold is the author of 60 nonfiction books for middle and high-school students, including several on health-related issues.

Watch Gold talk about Vet2Vet Maine