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Transforming perioperative nursing education into webinars

ACORN education officer Dr Paula Foran
Photo: ACORN education officer Dr Paula Foran
From infection prevention and workplace fatigue to asepsis, perioperative attire, chemical-free cleaning and innovations in allocations, thousands of perioperative nurses are tapping into webinars right across Australia.

In 2014, the Australian College of Operating Room Nurses (ACORN) launched a webinar initiative in a bid to deliver education to its 5,000 members across 4,000kms of the nation, spanning cities, regional, and rural and remote areas.

The education program is the only perioperative nursing education in Australia delivered via webinars, and has been such a success, the webinars are often booked out within 24 hours.

Dr Paula Foran, the education officer at ACORN and a perioperative nurse with 30 years’ experience, recently presented on the unique perioperative education initiative at the European Operating Room Nurses Association (EORNA) Congress in Greece.
Dr Foran says the live, interactive online presentations with experts in the field are designed to provide accessible, regular and affordable online education for perioperative nurses, regardless of where they live and work.

“It reaches our members from all over Australia,” she says.

“Access to face to face education at conferences, run in the cities, is not only difficult but expensive when accommodation and travel are included.”

Research shows while the percentage of Canadian perioperative nurses with postgraduate qualifications stands at 77 per cent, only 29 per cent of Australian perioperative nurses have postgraduate qualifications.

Other research shows only 21 per cent of perioperative nurses working at 10 metropolitan hospitals in Australia in 2014 had postgraduate perioperative nursing qualifications.

With a growing body of research pointing to a link between the quality of patient care and nurses’ education and expertise with patient health outcomes, the webinars are working to increase the education of the nursing specialty.

The national perioperative webinar education program features monthly webinars, and those members who are unable to tune in live can utilise recorded versions of the webinars to access education at their fingertips, whenever and wherever they choose - on any mobile device.

The program features two streams of webinars - standards and education. The standards stream focuses on the release of new or updated standards, covering areas such as environmental sustainable perioperative practice to surgical hand antisepsis and loan equipment.

“This allows explanation and discussion with members about changes to practice in an effort to maintain compliance to current standards,” Dr Foran says.

The education stream covers areas such as malignant hyperthermia, perioperative inadvertent hypothermia anaphylaxis, difficulties with intubating and ventilating as well as human factors in the perioperative environment, the role of the perianaesthesia
nurse, an introduction to orthopaedic surgery, evidence to action, and introductions to both general surgery as well as ear, nose and throat surgery.

Dr Foran says the webinars are aimed at all perioperative nurses, and are being developed on management, clinical and educational topics, in response to member feedback.

“My first job is to find experts on the particular topics members have requested, and then I brief them on the level of education delivery, novice to expert,” she says.

“The presenter and I have practice sessions prior to the webinar, mainly to test the internet connections and explain the system to the presenter.

“During the webinar, I troubleshoot the system where possible, usually assisting members having problems at their end.

“If I am not presenting myself, I manage the questions and answers at the end, allowing the presenter to just verbally respond.”

While the webinars are at the mercy of internet access and speed, Dr Foran says the webinars have been a huge hit with perioperative nurses, receiving positive feedback.

An Echuca nurse applauded the program, saying - “Been a perioperative nurse for 20 years and still learning. Love these webinars.”

Another regional Victorian nurse also credited the program for overcoming barriers to education, such as distance.

“Love, love, love this type of education - straight to the point,” she says.

“Not so easy for us country folk to get the education in the city. This is a perfect way to see that we are keeping up with current practices.”

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Karen Keast

Karen Keast is a freelance health journalist who writes news and feature articles for HealthTimes.

Karen regularly writes for some of Australia’s leading health news websites and magazines.  In a media career spanning 20 years, Karen has worked as a senior journalist in newspapers and television. She has covered the grind of daily news and worked as a politics reporter at countless state and federal elections.

Since venturing into freelance writing five years ago, Karen has found her niche in writing about the health sector for editors, businesses and corporations.

Karen has interviewed the heads of peak health organisations in Australia and overseas, and written hundreds of news and feature articles covering the dedicated work of health professionals who tread the corridors of hospitals and health services, universities, aged care facilities and practices, day in and day out.

Follow Karen Keast on Twitter @stylemywords