Reflection on PCRS conference 2020
I am a regional nurse manager (RNM) covering 10 GP practices and 1 urgent care centre. I have always had an interest in respiratory due to having a son who has brittle asthma, allergic aspergillosis and bronchiectasis. I undertook the education for health COPD and asthma modules a few years ago which gave me a good basis to start my respiratory journey. Since becoming RNM I have not had much time for clinical sessions, which I miss. I decided it was time to change and when I had my appraisal this year, I requested that I become respiratory lead for the company, in order to take on this new role I knew I had to update my knowledge and skills.
I enrolled on the PCRS leadership course and applied for the PCRS mentorship scheme, fortunately for me, I was accepted onto both.
There are 4 of us on the mentorship scheme, as part of this we were allocated 2 brilliant mentors, namely Carol Stoneham and Katherine Hickman. They were there for us, facilitating an initial get to know each other zoom, at this we all shared what we wanted to get out of the conferences the first conference being the European Respiratory Society virtual conference which was held over 3 days. Carol and Katherine advised us on what to look out for; how presenters present, are they at ease, do they know there subject, are their slides easy to read, spelling mistakes, do they make it interesting. We all had looked at the programme and had an idea of what we wanted to achieve from the conference. We had zoom meetings every night of the conference to discuss how the day had gone, what we enjoyed and learnt. The mentors had also set up a whats’ app group so we could communicate with each other throughout the day, which we did, advising each other of good sessions to watch.
After the conference we got together again and Carol reminded us of our learning goals to see if we had achieved them. We had but also had learnt so much more, going into sessions that we might not have gone into if we had been in the conference in person. The benefits of a virtual conference is you can go in and out of sessions as you please, not feeling guilty at getting up and leaving the room, instead you sit there until the end not really enjoying the topic as it is either too advanced for your level or just not what you thought it was going to be. It also allows you to listen whilst doing other things such as cooking/ baking/ going to gym/ shopping etc, as you can listen and then if you want to revisit and take notes then you can at a later date as you have 3 months to watch the sessions on catch up. A negative is getting so engrossed in the sessions that you forget to get up and stretch your legs, drink enough fluids or to eat properly.
I thoroughly enjoyed the ERS conference but compared to the PCRS conference it was too busy, there were a lot of sessions all at once giving too much choice, it was very academic in parts but I did learn a lot in areas which were new to me.
The PCRS conference on the other hand had 2 streams which were a lot easier to navigate and were more relevant to practice. It was an outstanding virtual platform with exhibitions and reps that were available to chat to in the lounges and on their stalls. When going into the exhibitions you were able to request documents and add them to your swag bag, which was then emailed to you when you had all the documents’ and info you wanted.
There was a coffee lounge where you could chat to other conference attendees as you would if there in person, a brilliant concept, even though I was so busy in the streams I did not get to chat much.
We had a pre-conference call and a post conference call discussing our learning goals again. The next conference is the BTS which we are hoping is face to face.
The 2 conferences I have attended so far and with the help, support and encouragement of the mentors and other mentees, I feel inspired to audit the saba use in our asthmatic patients following on from the NRAD report ,along with their annual review details. At the same time encouraging the practice nurses within the practices to have a respiratory update, even if they have undertaken the education for health respiratory courses, as things change and improvements can always be made in our care.
If you are interested in respiratory but just need some guidance or support then I can fully recommend undertaking the PCRS mentorship course and the leadership course, they do not need to be done at the same time. They are open to members of the PCRS and you get out a lot more out of it than you are required to put in.