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Blossoming & blooming ...

The 43rd annual conference of the Perioperative Nurses College of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (PNC NZNO) was held in Dunedin from October 27-29, 2016 hosted by the Otago region.

The theme of the conference was 'Blossom and Bloom--cultivating your personal and professional growth.' The idea was that the variety of speakers and sessions over the three days would provide the fertilizer for individuals to grow and blossom within the multi-generational perioperative environment--cultivating professional success and personal satisfaction.

Planning started in early 2015 when the conference committee first met. This dynamic committee was led by Sandra Millis, Registered Nurse First Surgical Assistant (RNFSA) and included Amanda Figgins, Carmel Dawson and Aimee Keogh who are all Registered Nurses working in the operating theatres along with Natalie McLean an intensive care unit Nurse and Tara Harrex, a Medical Imaging Nurse. The decision was made early on to have predominantly local speakers at our conference knowing that there was a wealth of knowledge here in our region. In total there were 28 speakers, 19 of whom were from Dunedin.

One hundred and seventy-one nurse delegates and 105 exhibitors attended, with a few visitors from Australia. The conference was held at the Dunedin Centre and the adjacent Town Hall, which is conveniently located just off the Octagon in the city centre. This was close to shops, restaurants, city attractions, and a variety of accommodation options.

Surgico Free Paper session

The Surgico Free Paper session was held on the Thursday afternoon and provided a varied line up of interesting topics from around the country. Miriam Vollweiller (Otago) discussed the journey of the operating theatres at Mercy Hospital, Dunedin and how they became a smoke-free zone, eliminating surgical smoke plume. Johanna McCamish (Auckland/ Northland) gave an overview of what she learnt while attending the 2016 AORN Conference in Anaheim, USA earlier in the year while Jenny Green (Auckland/Northland) shared the research findings of a qualitative study exploring post-operative well-being and quality of life of liver transplant recipients. Emma Brooks (Wellington) who is a member of the New Zealand Medical Assistance Team (NZMAT) shared her experience of being deployed to Fiji after Tropical Cyclone Winston devastated parts of the country earlier this year.

The presentations were judged for the $1000 Surgico prize--with the winner announced at the AGM on Saturday.

Debbie Booth travel award

The Surgico Free Paper session was followed by the Obex Medicalbacked Debbie Booth travel award session, providing insight into a range of aspects of Medical Imaging Nursing.

Cara Dorman (Otago) discussed the skills gained and obstacles faced during Dunedin Public Hospital's implementation of nurse-led PICC insertion then Gillian Martin (Auckland-Northland) outlined the measures that were put in place to reduce delays for inpatient arriving to radiology appointments, and ways to reduce the risk of several 'wrongs' (patient, place, time, procedure) occurring in the department.

Jakob Janse (Auckland-Northland) then outlined the process of cardiac biopsy which patients undergo on a regular basis post heart transplant to detect early rejection. Shona Matthews (Auckland-Northland) discussed the research and therapeutic use of Lipiodol, oil-based contrast media, for uterine flushing, particularly effective for endometriosis based infertility and Maria May Ragot and Sabina Nazeem discussed improving CTC attendance and quality of study through telephone assessment.

Official Opening

Following the Thursday afternoon presentations, the opening of the trade exhibition and welcome reception was held on the Thursday evening. Delegates were welcomed into the Town Hall in true Dunedin spirit by bagpiper Rachel Gold, one of our local Perioperative Nurses College (PNC) members. This was followed by the formal opening of the trade displays by Catherine Do of Applied Medical.

The evening provided a great opportunity for delegates to start exploring some of the 52 trade stands that were on display while being entertained by local Dunedin singer and songwriter Abbey Wolfe.

The official opening of the conference took place on the Friday morning with a Mihi followed by a welcome from the conference master of ceremonies (MC) Lisa Scott. Lisa is a local writer who oozes enthusiasm and charm and was a delight to have present throughout the three days.


The day commenced with our keynote speaker William Pike with his session, "All passion, no limits."

William is a truly inspirational motivational speaker. He shared his powerful story of how he was critically injured in an eruption of Mount Ruapehu in 2007, in which he very nearly died from hypothermia and organ shutdown, suffering injuries that resulted in his right leg being amputated. He gave insight into his experience as a patient and his long journey to recovery with another of his maxim being to "learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable."

William has so much energy and enthusiasm, it was clear to see that being an amputee was no excuse for not living his life to the full. He always had a huge passion for teaching, and the outdoors, and has since gone on to develop the William Pike Challenge Award. This is an inspiring programme that assists schools and their teachers in fostering personal development of year 7-9 students through outdoor activities, community service, and passion projects. He was an entertaining and engaging speaker who definitely inspired the audience to live their life with all passion, and no limits.

Relationship violence red flags

Our next speaker was Lesley Elliot who discussed relationship violence red flags. Lesley describes herself as a nurse and a mother. She is a long serving nurse in Dunedin Hospital's neonatal intensive care unit, but her influential role in the prevention of relationship violence arose from her role as a mother. Lesley's daughter Sophie was killed by a former boyfriend in 2008 in the safety of her own home at the age of 22. After her death, Lesley came to realise that many signs of an abusive relationship were there in front of her and Sophie but they did not see them at the time. Since then, Lesley has committed herself to ensuring young people in particular can recognise the signs of an abusive relationship.

In partnership with the New Zealand Police, Lesley has set up the Sophie Elliott Foundation, which along with the NZ Police provides one day interactive workshops for year 12 students, exploring what constitutes healthy and unhealthy relationships. Lesley's presentation was truly heart breaking with not many dry eyes in the auditorium. She is an amazing woman who through her own tragic loss is helping to prevent and reduce New Zealand's appalling relationship violence statistics. We include the chart of the eight warning signs of an abusive relationship from Sophie Elliot Foundation website www.sophieelliottfoundation. in this issue.

Breakout sessions

The conference committee was fortunate enough to have too many speakers, so were able to run three breakout sessions on the Friday. Some highlights of the afternoon included the following three speakers: Amelia Howard-Hill is a self-employed Acute Care Nurse Practitioner who works over the entire perioperative continuum including clinics, theatre, and ward rounds. She outlined senior nursing opportunities available in New Zealand, and discussed practical steps in driving your own career progression. She emphasised the importance of deciding what you want to end up doing and then work out the steps needed to get there rather than studying random papers and seeing what job fits.

Jason Henwood is an anaesthetist from Dunedin who has a key interest in both paediatrics and communication. He discussed how we can alter the perioperative experience for both children and adults through communication.

Prior to surgery, patients are more susceptible to the positive and negative effects of the language that we use. Jason outlined some simple techniques to increase the use of positive suggestion and eliminate the use of sabotage language to improve our patients' experience. For example, "here is some medication to numb the skin" instead of "sharp, scratch" where patients then focus of the numbing effect of the local anaesthetic rather than the pain of the injection.

Elspeth McLean is a columnist, former health reporter, and mediator who currently assists in the running of WorkRights, an employment relations consultancy. She presented the challenges of bullying in the workplace including what it is, how to identify it and how to act. She discussed the importance of a safe process to deal with bullying, and everyone's role in prevention. There was a keen interest from delegates attending Elspeth's session, as bullying unfortunately is present in so many of our work environments.

Friday's remaining keynote session was a panel consisting of Mr Alan Carstens Orthopaedic surgeon, Anaesthetist Dr Jason Henwood and Ginny Martin, RN scoliosis co-ordinator from Dunedin Hospital's scoliosis unit, which covers the whole of the South Island. Together they discussed the development of the scoliosis unit since the early 1990s. The key focus of the presentation was the more-recent introduction of an endoscopic technique in the treatment of adolescent idiopathic thoracic scoliosis.

Mr Carstens is the only surgeon in New Zealand performing this technique after learning it during his fellowship in Brisbane from pioneering surgeon Mr Geoff Askin. The indications for surgery, technique, benefits, postoperative outcomes, and pain relief were discussed, along with some very impressive pre- and post-operative patient x-rays.

Conference dinner

The conference dinner was held at Toitu--the Otago Early Settlers' Museum. Guests were welcomed at the far end of the museum, enabling them the opportunity to walk through the exhibitions on their way to the dinner foyer.

The conference theme of 'Blossom and Bloom' was carried through the evening, and it was lovely to see so many gorgeous floral outfits accessories on display.

The infamous 'Percy' Challenge this year consisted of a quiz where regions had to identify what they could see in a variety of medical images, including X-rays, scans, and arthroscopic and laparoscopic images. This was a great success, and provided a lot of entertainment and fun for everyone. With absolutely no bias from the marking team the results were: Otago 1st; Auckland-Northland 2nd; and Wellington 3rd.

Unfortunately for Otago, the region's success was not carried thro to the rugby field with Otago losing the final of the Mitre 10 Cup which was held at Forsyth Barr Stadium that same night. We were entertained for the rest of the evening by Dunedin four-piece band Roadblock, who had everyone on the dance-floor from their first song through to their last. An absolutely great night.

Farmers' Market

Traditionally, the Saturday morning of PNC conference commences with a breakfast session but we decided to omit this, and instead encourage everyone to attend the local Otago Farmers' Market which has on offer an extensive range of fresh and local produce, and a delicious array of breakfast treats. Unfortunately due to the cold and wet wintry blast that hit Dunedin over the conference, not many people were brave enough to face the elements for a hangover cure.

Cancer treatments

Saturday's education commenced with Dr Gabriel Lau, Interventional Radiologist from Dunedin Hospital, who spoke about a wide variety of cancer treatments that are provided within the Radiology Department. This included things such as bland embolisation, drug eluting bead chemoembolisation, and intra-arterial chemotherapy.

Dr Lau discussed how these treatment options can sometimes be used for patients when surgical removal is not possible. In comparison to surgery, these treatments are less invasive, completed as a day procedure, and allow patients to recover in a much quicker timeframe.

Overall, the audience gained a good insight into interventional oncology procedures.


The 2016 PNC Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held on Saturday morning. As usual a productive meeting took place, which was Fiona Unac's last in the role of Chair of PNC. The highlight of the year has been the completion of the 'New Zealand Perioperative Nursing Knowledge and Skills Framework' which was launched at this meeting. A special thanks and congratulations were extended to the development committee for this.

Fiona received a standing ovation for her outstanding service to PNC during her last three years as Chairperson.


The generosity of our sponsors makes a huge contribution to the success of the conference but also enables the long list of awards that are granted each year to our well deserving recipients. The following awards were presented at the AGM. Congratulations!

Surgico Free paper award--Miriam Vollweiller. Obex Debbie Booth Travel Award--Shona Matthews. Boston Scientific Debbie Booth Runner up--Gillian Martin. Stryker Best Clinical Practice Article--Catherine Freebairn. Molyncke Best Article for Quality and Innovation--Tracey Lee. Medspec Novice Award--Debby Govers. Medspec Poster Competition--Juliet Asbery. Johnston and Johnston International Education Grant--Rob Hawker. Culpan PNC Education Award--Hannah Todd and Angelene Busteillos. Device Technologies Catherine Logan Memorial Award--Rob Hawker. Downs Christina Ackland Award--Fiona Unac. Paul Duke Best Trade Award--REM Systems. Dallas Jessiman Award--Tim Hill.

There were two more breakout sessions before lunch ensuring those who had to leave early to catch a flight home didn't miss too many speakers. Again there was another fantastic line-up of speakers to choose from.

Getting personal

Registered Nurse and life coach Jan Aiken presented 'getting personal'. Nurses are known for looking after others but often need reminding when it comes to looking after themselves. Jan outlined some tips and tools to enable nurses to re-fuel their mind, body, and soul, promoting better selfcare. A key emphasis was the importance of making time for yourself to relax and focus on you, such as sitting in the sun, reading a book, listening to music, or soaking in the bath.

Pressure Area Prevention

Wound Care Nurse Specialist Mandy Pagan provided a refreshing reminder on pressure area prevention in the operating theatre. She provided an overview on best practice guidelines, risk factors, the staging of pressure injuries, and some patient case studies. Mandy reinforced the importance of pre and post operative skin inspection and the documentation and handover of this. For special interest, she briefly outlined the use of larvae therapy in wound management.

Neuromodulation and homeostasis

The final keynote session was presented by engaging neurosurgeon Professor Dirk De Ridder from Otago University who provided a crash course in neuromodulation and homeostasis. In simple terms, neuromodulation refers to different ways of changing brain function by electrically stimulating parts of the brain to dampen down hyperactive neurons. Prof De Ridder pointed out that the use of electricity to treat conditions is not a new discovery. The Egyptians used electrical fish to treat gout and pain. Things were very different back then--they simply used a different sized fish to determine how much current they wanted to use.

His fascinating presentation explored his main area of interest in the understanding and treatment of phantom perceptions such as sound and pain. Professor De Ridder is a world expert in this area and is pioneering the use of implanted devices in the brain providing burst stimulation for the treatment of addiction here in Dunedin.

New Chair ...

Incoming PNC chairperson Johanna McCamish gave her opening address and with that, came the closing of the conference.

Overall, the 43rd annual conference of the Perioperative Nurses College was an outstanding success. This success was only made possible because of the huge support from the Industry Sponsors and in particular a huge thank you to our Platinum Sponsor BSN Medical and our Gold Sponsors Device Technologies, Molnlycke Health Care and REM Systems.

The conference committee were proud of the end-result and would like to thank Amy Abel and her team at Conference Events & Management for her outstanding support, direction and huge contribution to the overall success of the three-day event.

There was great feedback received in regards to the venue, food, entertainment, and line-up of fantastic, educational speakers.

We wish Hawkes Bay all the best for the busy year ahead of them in planning the 2017 conference.

--Aimee Keogh, Member Otago Conference Committee
COPYRIGHT 2016 New Zealand Nurses' Organisation, Perioperative Nurses College
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2016 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:pnc conference report; conference of the Perioperative Nurses College of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation
Author:Keogh, Aimee
Publication:The Dissector: Journal of the Perioperative Nurses College of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Dec 1, 2016
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