In January 2016, the annual Enhanced Surgical Skills (ESS) CME Program taking place in Banff, AB will be introducing the first iteration of its “Bring Your OR Nurse” program. This initiative offers rural OR nurses the opportunity to attend the conference at a reduced rate ($25) with the first twenty registrants receiving a $500 bursary for travel and accommodation. The bursaries are being supported by the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses, Alberta Rural Physician Action Plan (RPAP), Rural Coordination Centre of BC (RCCbc), and Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA).
Dr. Bret Batchelor, ESS family physician in Vanderhoof, B.C. and host of the Really Rural Surgery podcast, first proposed this idea with the intention of expanding interprofessional participation at the Banff ESS conference. The idea quickly evolved into a greater initiative recognizing the invaluable role OR nurses play in rural surgery. “Often, what gets overshadowed is the nursing role in small operating rooms,” explains Batchelor. “I was hoping to get the nurses out to show them the world [that ESS family physicians are] involved in now and to show them, with the bursary, how much we appreciate the work that they do, and how essentially important [they are to] the nursing aspect of rural surgical and maternity services.”
Nurses attending the Banff conference as part of this program will participate in the full offerings of the CME program. One of the outcomes Batchelor hopes to see is the dissemination of information. Nurses often play a vital role in the dissemination of information, both at the physician level and at the nursing level. Batchelor explains, “if [nurses] are involved with the educational aspect of the day, they’ll probably take that information back to their OR and disseminate it to the nurses there, to the associated staff, and probably to the doctors they work with as well. It is a way to increase the spread of knowledge.” In addition to attending talks and seminars, there will be opportunities for rural surgical nurses to gather and network with their colleagues from across Western Canada, the first gathering of this kind.
While the bursary and reduced registration fees are great incentives to attend ESS CME Program, it will still not be easy to facilitate the attendance of rural OR nurses for this event, especially in communities with a small medical staff. The shortage of health care providers in many rural villages and towns results in staff working longer hours to provide service – losing a nurse even for two days can create tremendous demand on the providers that remain behind to provide coverage. In this type of practice environment, the team dynamic and relationships between nurses, staff, and physicians in a rural community are vital to maintaining high quality delivery of care. According to Batchelor, “without every member of the team, it just doesn’t work. Really, I think [nurses] should be getting a lot more recognition.”
Visit the SRPC Banff ESS CME Program website for more information on how to “Bring Your OR Nurse” to this CME event.