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Toasting women's health in Napier.

A Toast to Women's Health was the title of our women's health section conference in Napier in April. This was held at the stunning War Memorial Centre, with a view of the sea right on our doorstep. Some attendees even spotted a pod of orcas early one morning.

We had an array of fabulous speakers, both from nursing and medical perspectives, and the quality of presentations, especially by first-time presenters and those entering for the Obex prize, made it difficult to choose winners in both categories. Unfortunately, we had no poster presentations this year, so we are increasing the prize for the best poster in the hope of attracting nurses to give this method of presenting their work a try.

Our keynote speaker, Auckland writer and actor Pauline Grogan, had us entranced with stories about her tragic, yet rich life. Her ability to conquer sexual and emotional abuse (during her years as a nun) and to become a strong, confident person, casting off the victim role to help others, is a great tribute to her, and an example to all people, women and men, who suffer at the hands of another. I had to read her autobiography Beyond the Veil as soon as I could get my hands on it.

I congratulate Auckland Family Planning nurse Michelle Lowe for winning the Obex award. The topic of supporting mothers diagnosed with HIV is not an easy one, and resources to help are very limited. The stigma associated with the virus, especially for those women innocently infected, who then pass it on to their child, is enormous. It was very stimulating to have our awareness of this topic raised.

About a year ago, the committee decided to present an award to the best first-time presenter, to encourage nurses to share their nursing expertise with others. Congratulations to Suzanne Marshall and Carleine Receveur from Hawke's Bay District Health Board who shared their research into the impact of smoking on women, particularly young women of reproductive age. Nurses need to systematically screen women about their smoking habits, they said. I hope many of our members will develop novel ways of improving women's health, passing this knowledge on and raising our standards of care through research. This doesn't need to mean doing a master's degree, but simply making observations or being innovative in your workplace, comparing what you do with other places, and presenting this information to others, eg at conferences.

All other speakers need to be applauded, particularly other first-time presenters. Guest speakers, such as one of our past chairs Margaret Thomson, and other perspectives from the medical fraternity, were well chosen. I was particularly impressed by information on forensics and sexual assault, and topics to do with pelvic floor issues, as they directly relate to my area of work.

Our next conference is in Blenheim next Match. I advise nurses to register early, as the dinner venue will be a real treat, but numbers are limited. We are currently approaching a wide range of exciting speakers.

Report by section chair Judy Moore

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Author:Moore, Judy
Publication:Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Aug 1, 2010
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