The annual Speaking of Women’s Health Conference (SWH) was clearly designed with the goal of cultivating the whole person.

“To be a whole person, we need to take care of all aspects of our life,” said Robin Patykiewicz, program director of Speaking of Women’s Health. “As women, we can’t provide for our families if we’re not taking care of ourselves first.”

Sponsored by Shawnee Mission Health (SMH), this year’s conference is set for October 3 from 8 am – 4 pm at the Overland Park Convention Center in Overland Park, Kansas. Speaking of Women’s Health teaches women how to cultivate wellness in all aspects of their lives.

Patykiewicz realized this need for whole-person care firsthand when she attended her first conference five years ago. At one of the conference’s health screenings, she discovered she had high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels.

“I was determined to make a change because I didn’t want my son to have to take care of me,” she said. “It changed my life. A lot of us women think that our goal is to provide for our families economically and socially, but how can you do that if you’re not taking care of yourself first?” Patykiewicz said.

With its variety of speakers, demonstrations and health screenings, the conference is one of the many ways SMH fulfills its commitment to whole-person care.

The morning’s scheduled keynote speaker, Paula Johnson, MD, MPH, pioneered one of the first facilities in the nation to focus on heart disease in women.

As in previous years, attendees will break in the middle of the day for lunch and another keynote speaker, who will add a touch of humor to the event. Jeanne Robertson, humorist and former Miss North Carolina, will present Humor: More Than a Laughing Manner.

“We always try to do a lunch keynote that is fun and entertaining,” Patykiewicz said. “Jeanne specializes in hilarious humor based on life experiences.”

Between speakers, attendees may attend a number of breakout sessions, designed to teach women to cultivate all aspects of their wellness, from nutrition and stress management to skincare and beauty. Sessions will include presentations from SMH experts and culinary demonstrations from Whole Foods, The Culinary Center and many others.

In the Exhibit Hall attendees can visit 30-40 booths provided by sponsors such as Costco, Shawnee Mission’s Santé Image Renewal Boutique & Salon, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City, Brookdale Senior Living, Macy’s, Commerce Bank, CBIZ, Sprint, Cerner and others. Many of the booths will provide women direct access to healthcare with screening such as vascular health, vision, audio, oral cancer, bone density, skin checks and flu shots.

“It’s a sense of camaraderie where you get to spend a day with over a thousand other women who are all looking to improve their lives, their health and their emotional well-being,” said DeAnna Bacon, member of the SWH steering committee.

At the end of the day, each attendee leaves with a gift bag, and every woman who fills out a survey will receive a rose.

“You leave the day feeling refreshed and armed with a whole new set of information so that you can improve many areas in your life,” Bacon added.

Last year, the conference sold out at 1,200 attendees, Patykiewicz said. She expects the event to sell out again this year.

To learn more about the conference or to register visit or call 913.676.SOWH (7694).

This article was originally published in the September 2014 issue of OUTLOOK. It was written by Emily Becherer, a writer for Shawnee Mission Health.