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How can conferences and study days benefit practice?

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VOL: 97, ISSUE: 09, PAGE NO: 9

Peter Hill, BA, RN, DipN, DipCC, is project nurse, department of tissue viability, North Staffordshire Hospital NHS Trust

Lorraine Jackson is clinical nurse specialist, tissue viability, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS TrustMark Collier, BA, RGN, ONC, RCNT, RNT, is senior lecturer/nurse consultant, tissue viability, Thames Valley University, London

Wounds 2000 Partnerships in Wound Care Conference, November 2000

Wounds 2000 Partnerships in Wound Care Conference, November 2000
Having recently been seconded from neonatal intensive care to work as a project nurse for the department of tissue viability, the opportunity to attend a three-day wound care conference gave me the chance to address some of the issues with which I was faced in this new field.

As a first-time delegate at a major conference I found the content thought-provoking, informative, even challenging. There was also ample opportunity for networking with other professionals with an interest in tissue viability.

The practical sessions on offer complemented the plenary sessions and enabled delegates to select areas in which they had a special interest, whether this was bandaging or developing a website. These sessions also allowed for valuable hands-on experiential learning.

The speakers came from a variety of backgrounds which gave a true multidisciplinary feel to the proceedings. This also ensured that the academic contribution was combined with clinical reality, with input from nurses working in a variety of settings. Contact with wound care company representatives exhibiting at the conference was also beneficial.

On reflection the conference experience delivered a fresh insight into wound care and the complexities of tissue viability. Professionally it contributed to my development by expanding my knowledge base in this area. On a personal level, experiences at the conference have increased my confidence when dealing with specialists and company representatives. It also highlighted the many gaps that exist between theory and practice and reinforced in my mind the fact that a career in nursing is a lifelong learning process for which all nurses are responsible to ensure that care is of the highest standard. - Peter Hill, BA, RN, DipN, DipCC

Masterclass in Methods of Wound Debridement, July 2000
As a clinical nurse specialist in the field of tissue viability I have found it difficult to find courses that cover the clinical aspects encountered in my daily workload. Wound debridement is generally seen as an extension of the nursing role. The 'Masterclass in methods of wound debridement' was therefore an ideal opportunity to expand my knowledge base alongside fellow nurses.

The course was held over two days, with the first day concentrating on the various methods of debridement, exploring the evidence base to support these and the legal aspects of 'nurse debridement'. The latter stimulated lengthy discussions in the group of approximately 40 nurses and encouraged reflection on current practice.

The second day included anatomy and cadavaric dissection, where the lower body was detailed and explored. Then all group members had some hands-on experience of practical debridement techniques, using pigs' trotters. This particular session influenced my own development, as it made me critically review my practice before the course and build into my personal development plan the need to formulate a competency programme for sharp debridement. This is necessary as part of risk management and for personal legal protection, should a problem arise.

The two days reminded me that, although this procedure could be viewed as a routine element of patient care, it is still necessary to maintain a high level of knowledge and skill.

The practical elements of the course ensured that I came away with the knowledge of the tissues encountered during debridement and how to deal with complications and the implications of my actions in order to achieve optimum healing. - Lorraine Jackson.

EXPERT COMMENT
It is generally accepted that all health care professionals require evidence on which to base their practice. The question nevertheless remains: how can professionals, and nurses in particular, gain access to all the evidence without the help of additional resources? One of the most valuable ways of not only hearing the evidence but also having the opportunity to debate it is through attendance at a conference or study day.

These two reviews clearly illustrate the benefit of choosing a conference or study day programme that will inform your practice. Ensuring an event is right for you can be helped if are able to answer yes to most of the following: Does the programme look interesting? Is the content applicable to your practice? Will any new material be presented? Will there be an opportunity to network with other delegates/students or the speakers? Is the event affordable and within a reasonable travelling distance? Although the final question is not the most important, it can make the difference between an individual's attendance or non-attendance and it is a question that all employers need to reconsider, especially as health care trusts develop stricter guidelines on company sponsorship. As the UKCC launches its document Supporting Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors Through Lifelong Learning, both professionals and employers need to re-evaluate what lifelong learning means to them, what resources need to be employed to achieve it and how this concept will enhance professional practice both for the benefit of carers and patients alike. - Mark Collier, BA, RGN, ONC, RCNT, RNT.

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