You never know what you're going to learn when you attend the annual Trends in Trauma and Cardio-.vascular Nursing conference. Whether it's the latest on AIDS, or waveforms, or new rehabilitation therapies for traumatic injuries or caring for pediatric patients with head trauma or sharing a mnemonic for assessment of patients, the conference offered a wide variety of topics to the more than 1,000 critical care and ED nurses who attended this year.
From April 18-21 at the Adams Mark Hotel, Philadelphia, nurses had the opportunity to attend more than 100 sessions ranging from cutting-edge clinical topics to those related to professional and ethical issues. New to the 2004 conference was a CCNS review course.
Conference organizers were thrilled with the number of nurses who attended. "This year's conference was an even bigger success than usual because we had an increase in attendance," proudly shared Debbie Fischer, MSN, RN, CCRN, president of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter (SePA) of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN).
Getting the program started was Kathleen McCauley, PhD, RN, CS, FAAN, FAHA, president-elect of AACN, as of July 1. Well known to this group, Dr McCauley is an active member and past president of SePA, one of the conference sponsors, along with Drexel University College of Nursing and The Trauma Center at Penn. In fact, when Fischer introduced Dr McCauley, she referred to her as "SePA's superstar."
Dr. McCauley explained that her talk, "Rising Above: We Can All Make a Difference," is the theme of current AACN president, Dorrie Fontaine, DNSc, RN, FAAN. The president-elect encouraged nurses to embrace this idea, especially in trying to work together to create a healthier work environment and building stronger collaborative relationships. (For more on her presentation, see Career Beat, p. 49)
Another tradition popular with Trends attendees is the chance to share a cup of tea with the AACN president and informally talk about national trends and hot issues. During the afternoon tea April 19, Dr. McCauley met with a packed room of nurses to hear their concerns and share information. She told them more about the AACN Beacon Award for critical care excellence, the new certification exam for progressive care unit nurses; the practice alerts issued by AACN and the electronic newsletter, available to all AACN members.
Dr. McCauley also informed the group that in 2003 AACN awarded $150,000 in research grants, with seven of these going to palliative care studies.
Bart Chernow, MD, president and CEO, GMP Companies Inc. Fort Lauderdale, FL, and adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, shared new technologies of interest to the critical-care and trauma nurse. Before he began his lively discussion he shared a mnemonic he used in his practice, assuring nurses they will wow their coworkers with this.
"Use this mnemonic, 'I Vindicate,'" Dr. Chernow said. "They are hints of what to look for in assessing a patient. So consider, 'is it iatrogenic? Is it vascular:'"
I Infectious disease
N Neoplastic (cancer)
C Congenital or collagen vascular (e.g., lupus)
A Autoimmune, Allergic
Dr. Chernow went on to discuss new technology and the use of old methods. A strong proponent of handwashing, he shared, "I watch Oprah. I'll admit it. She once said that while your wash you hands you should sing Happy Birthday. When you're finished singing, then your hands have been properly washed."
Other new technologies or new methods of care include telemedicine, tissue engineering, prone positioning ventilation as opposed to PEEP for ARDS to improve oxygenation, studies that propose a higher caloric intake for ICU patients to increase survival and decrease nosocomial infections, a new tracheotomy tube that enables speech during mechanical ventilation and much more.
Kay Bensing is a senior nurse consultant and Gail O. Guterl is an editor at ADVANCE.