“Advocate for yourself.” With April Hatch

I am educating patients on a treatment that most health-care professionals won’t discuss and teaching them how to advocate for themselves in their doctor’s office. I am providing patients with the tools they need they to make their own informed health-care decisions. I am giving them their power back. I am able to build a […]

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I am educating patients on a treatment that most health-care professionals won’t discuss and teaching them how to advocate for themselves in their doctor’s office. I am providing patients with the tools they need they to make their own informed health-care decisions. I am giving them their power back. I am able to build a relationship with patients and help them reach their goals with something that doesn’t come from the pharmacy. Its diet, exercise, stress management, and often times cannabis.

As a part of our series about strong women leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing April Hatch, RN- Co-Founder of Cannabis Care Team.

Apil Hatch, RN, co-founder of Cannabis Care Team, is the ultimate healthcare guru to cannabis and she’s providing her wisdom, consultation and support to patients throughout the county. The use of medical marijuana is now legal in 33 states with more on its way. However, there are very limited resources to navigate the world of medical marijuana leaving patients feeling overwhelmed, influenced by stigmas and deterred from truly benefitting from this natural healing plant.

April Hatch, has taken her skills as an RN and combined them with her extensive training and deep understanding in cannabis medicine to provide one-on-one consultation to educate and guide patients through the process. April has helped transform the lives of countless patients ranging from the elderly to children and patients with a wide range of conditions from cancer to anxiety. She guides them through the entire process from delivery methods (including edibles, oils and inhalation) to the type of cannabis that will benefit them the most.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Iwas working as an RN in a traditional role in the hospital and I just never really felt like my patients were getting better. They were just getting well enough to go home. They were only being told how surgery and medication could help them, there was never the focus on teaching patients what they could do on their own to promote their own health. The patients never felt any power or control in their situation, we were always taking that away. So I left acute care nursing and went into public health where I could focus on teaching patients how to prevent disease and promote health. After my son suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury with lasting Post-Concussion Syndrome and not much success with traditional treatment, we decided to try cannabis after I completed hours of research. It worked almost immediately and he was able to go to school again without suffering from migraines.

Each time I read a new study I thought of a patient who I had worked with that had given up all hope because medications were not working and thought maybe cannabis could help them. They were out of options for conditions like chronic pain, opioid addiction, Parkinson’s, anxiety, autoimmune conditions, and cancer. That is where it all started.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

I am educating patients on a treatment that most health-care professionals won’t discuss and teaching them how to advocate for themselves in their doctor’s office. I am providing patients with the tools they need they to make their own informed health-care decisions. I am giving them their power back. I am able to build a relationship with patients and help them reach their goals with something that doesn’t come from the pharmacy. Its diet, exercise, stress management, and often times cannabis.

There is a lot of skepticism surrounding the cannabis plant and what it can and cannot do, but over and over again we see patients report not only benefit for their medical conditions, but an overall improved quality-of-life and I think the health-care system has forgotten this is an achievable goal. Treating symptoms has become our focus and I want to see a system that starts to treat the whole person.

So that’s me disrupting health-care but I want to disrupt the medical cannabis industry as well. Medical cannabis is a billion dollar industry and I don’t often see the focus on the medical aspect at all. The patients who may benefit the most are still not getting what they need when they live in a legal state. There are no guidelines for them to follow on dosing, not much education offered, and there is a limited number of balanced CBD and THC products available in the dispensaries. Patients get the most benefit from a combination of cannabinoids and there is too much focus on THC. Some states don’t even allow patients to buy CBD in a medical dispensary so they are left to choose between one of the million, possibly untested, products sold at gas stations and grocery stores.

​I work with doctors, dispensaries, and patients and I am told over and over — “we need you, there are not enough nurses doing this…the patients are not getting the education and direction they need from their certifying doctors” A lot of patients are spending a lot of money and not really accomplishing a real relief of symptoms. I can change that, I can disrupt that cycle.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I brought my grandma some cannabis chocolate and basically said, “here, this will help.” It sat in her fridge until the next time I visited her and she inundated me with today’s “Reefer Madness.” She had books, a newspaper clipping, and sat me down and explained that cannabis was in fact a very dangerous drug. My mistake was I didn’t preface those chocolates with talking about her endocannabinoid system and telling her it’s possible to heal with cannabis without getting high. Thankfully that day when she sat me down I was familiar with the studies she referenced and could pull up the article, show her the limitations, and counter with higher quality studies that in fact concluded the opposite.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

Dr. Dustin Sulak is a leading cannabis physician in the United States and I have been fortunate to spend some time with him. He’s always been available to answer any questions I have about studies or patients, but he really taught me the importance of meeting patients where they are at. As a nurse, I have the tendency to be a fixer, and I want to help patients in any way that I can, but he really taught me that the patient needs to be in the driver’s seat. There will be time to work on diet and exercise later, but right now if the patient’s goal is to get a good night’s sleep that needs to be my goal as well. Patients may not want to understand how cannabis works in the body, but just want to know what they can do to control the debilitating pain. Patients are already overwhelmed enough with their conditions and he taught me the importance of taking small steps. However, the most important lesson he taught me is that it was ok to show love to our patients. We’re told to show compassion in healthcare, but I never felt like I could truly be myself until I left the hospital. Hospitals are a cold and sterile place in more ways than one. I always felt that I was getting too attached to patients and caring too much until he remined me we need to show love to those we care for. Love is what so many of us need.

My grandparents, Ralph and Katie, were my biggest mentors and I frequently write about the impact they had on my life. As a child they taught me so many ways to enjoy the beauty and the complexities of our planet. They showed me how to live simple and love the earth. However, the greatest impact they had on my is when I helped them care for their aging minds and bodies. My grandfather suffered with dementia and my grandmother suffered with chronic pain and caring for them taught me the most about our senior population. My grandmother had been prescribed opiates for years and when Oklahoma passed a prescription drug monitoring program I saw first-hand how that affected her. She had to be driven to the doctor’s office every month to see the doctor, she had to complete a questionnaire to determine if she had become addicted to opiates, and of course she had, anxiously she would wait to see if the doctor would write that prescription, after that if she had enough oxygen left she would drop off her prescription only to hear there was always some issue with the insurance. It was a very agonizing process for her and it made her feel like a drug addict when she had only been taking what the doctors told her to take for years.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

Disrupting is not always good, but the US healthcare system is not working and it needs to be disrupted. Having high tech equipment, specialists, urgent cares and pharmacies on every corner does not equal better health outcomes for patients.

Insurance companies disrupt the patient and physician relationship all the time when they won’t approve what the doctor wants to do for the patient. Health-care decisions should be made by professionals and patients and not those working in a billion dollar industry. We need to disrupt our current system.

The medical cannabis industry is another system that needs a nudge or disruption. Medical professionals need to be more involved, medical marijuana states need to ensure they have programs that benefit patients not just the bottom line of businesses.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

“If your goal is to help people, how can you find a way to help even more.” Dr. Dustin Sulak said this to me when I was discussing how much I enjoyed working with my patients. I was really on the fence about taking my business from individual consultations to the cannabis industry and he really helped me see that my skills and knowledge needed to reach more people.

“Tomorrow is a new day.” There have been times in my life, like most, when mom-life and work-life can become overwhelming. Things happen and all we can do is get up the next day and start over.

“Do what you love and you will do it well.” I am very lucky to have a family that has supported my decision to leave traditional nursing. Nothing ever feels like work now, but instead it feels like a step to fulfilling a lifelong dream.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

One area I will be focusing on is working with the industry to ensure patients have access to education and quality cannabis products. My goal is to teach them that THC isn’t what medical cannabis is all about, it’s so much more.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

When we are passionate about something it’s seen as ‘cute,’ when we want to help people were ‘sweet,’ and when we do something for someone were ‘angels.’ Men aren’t commonly referred to in these terms and those who are cute and sweet angels aren’t the ones being asked to make business decisions

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

Any one of Dr. Andrew Weil’s books. But specifically, Spontaneous Healing. Dr. Weil has disrupted traditional healthcare by teaching us that we can heal ourselves. He teaches us about food, herbs, wellness, and in that book he discusses 7 strategies of successful patients. Everyone could benefit from these strategies, and he includes the importance of forming constructive partnerships with healthcare professionals and tells us to not take no for an answer. My own health has benefited from his teaching on diet and the importance of activity and rest. He says, “give your healing system a morning walk and a good night’s rest, and it may be ready for whatever challenges may arise.” (p. 241).

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My grandmother, Katie, always said, ”If we were all the same this world would be a very boring place.” This taught me to first value diversity and second to surround myself with a team of individuals that all have different experiences, skills, and strengths. . When we put them together we can do great things.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Cannabis friendly senior living centers!! CBD infused snacks, aromatherapy massages, chair yoga in the courtyard, and some cannabis oil before playing cards- that’s what I wish for myself anyways!

How can our readers follow you online?


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This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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