Last August I participated at the Asia-Pacific Prostate Cancer Conference in Brisbane to prepare for my nursing fellowship at the Australian Prostate Centre in Melbourne.
It was a great opportunity to meet my future colleagues at the centre and acquire new knowledge about prostate cancer. I also welcomed the opportunity provided by the EAUN to pay for the registration fees in return for a conference report.
I’ve been working as a urology ward nurse for four years, and two years ago I started a prostate cancer nurse specialist programme at the University Hospitals Leuven. In Belgium, nurse specialists are still relatively ‘new,’ which makes the Brisbane meeting a great opportunity to learn from experienced colleagues Down Under.
The conference itself was not as big as I expected, but it was a lot easier to network with the Australians and participants from other countries. The conference had a professional but warm atmosphere and during the breaks I got to talk to nurses, doctors, researchers and physiotherapists. I also had the chance to talk with the speakers during lunch breaks lunch to discuss some details in their lectures. One of the topics discussed was the differences in health care systems and how they affect patient care.
With a very varied programme, I attended as many sessions as possible including those that tackled nursing issues. Many of the speakers were nurses and their lectures were not only remarkable but also inspired me.
The first day took up the history and future of urology followed by the role of genetic screening and prostate cancer prevention. During the discussion on active surveillance, I realised it is a subject I could further pursue. One controversial subject discussed was lymph nodes in prostate cancer, and the lecture by Professor Walsh discussed the benefits, barriers and long-term outcomes of a lymph node dissection. He noted that there are a lot of risks when performing a lymph node dissection with little evidence that shows benefit.
“…there are a lot of risks when performing a lymph node dissection with little evidence that shows benefit.”
Following the lunch break was a lecture on patients’ expectations and quality of life. Although patients nowadays have access to better information they still often have unrealistic expectations, for example, regarding the efficient management of incontinence. The session made me realise that I have to provide guidance to patients without taking away their hopes. Patient education certainly involves preparing them for what might come and properly informing them of realistic outcomes.
Running a nurse-led clinic
The second day took up the topic of the value of a well-run nurse-led clinic. Speaker Ms. Louisa Fleure has 25 years of experience with nurse-led clinics in the UK and gave good and practical examples on various management strategies. I noted many of her tips which I can use back home in my clinical practice, putting theory into actual practice. The rest of the day included lectures on sexual health with many helpful recommendations and insights from the speakers. One of the most significant things I picked up was the importance of carefully listening to patients. Some questions to consider are:
What is the goal? What is the patient expecting?
What does the partner want? Do they want the same thing? How far would they go? Do they have the right information? I will definitely have better questions to ask a patient who has a problem with, for instance, erectile dysfunction. During a 1.5-hour workshop, the participants shared experiences, dilemmas and knowledge, and It was good to realise that we basically struggle with the same clinical issues and challenges.
The last day in the nursing and allied health programme provided lectures on postrostatectomy incontinence, a subject which I am very familiar with. The session was not only inter-disciplinary but also covered many aspects comprehensively, with insights from doctors, nurses and physiologists. To summarise, my experience at the APCC Conference in Brisbane was very remarkable for its high quality programme and the warm collegial atmosphere. It is one of the rare meetings where I felt very welcome and which made networking very easy.
Lastly, I would like to thank the EAUN and the APCC for giving me the opportunity to attend this amazing conference. I intend to participate in next year’s conference and stay longer for the nursing fellowship. I certainly look forward to both!
Dorien Andof, Urology Ward Nurse, Prostate Cancer Nurse, Urology hospitals Leuven, Leuven (BE),