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Kindling Synergy in Pediatric Surgical Care: Professional and Clinical Collaborative Practice—23rd Annual APSNA Scientific Conference Overview

Pasarón, Raquel DNP, ARNP, FNP-BC

Author Information
Journal of Pediatric Surgical Nursing: July/September 2014 - Volume 3 - Issue 3 - p 68-71
doi: 10.1097/JPS.0000000000000026
  • Free

The annual conference provides an opportunity to meet and reconnect with colleagues and friends while taking in the latest and greatest educational offerings in pediatric surgical care. The West Coast had its turn this year at the beautifully lavish JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix, Arizona. A record number of 150 registrants for a West Coast meeting were in hand May 26–29, 2014; these included eight international nurses representing China, Australia, Sweden, and Canada. The conference showcased 22 scientific posters; 12 roundtable sessions; 12 presentations; 10 podium orals; over 30 speakers; our new member networking Web site; the partnering with Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins for the publication of the journal; and a record contact hour offering for a maximum of 18.45–21.

We had some notable firsts that were truly successful: the preconference workshop and the audience response system (ARS) session. The preconference workshop “Publishing, Posters, Presentations: Where to Start and How to Get to Your Goal” was held Monday, May 26, 2014, 2:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m. Participants left this session invigorated and planning possible topics for journal submission armed with the tools needed for professional publication and presentation. The second exciting session focused on audience participation addressing member feedback for more interactive sessions. Our first ever use of an ARS highlighted complex and controversial hot topics in pediatric surgical care; these included appendicitis care, pilonidal disease, abdominal wall defects, and trauma care. The third notable first will be the availability of five preassembled, archived American Pediatric Surgical Nurses Association (APSNA) 2014 conference presentations on PNPSourceCE (, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners’ (NAPNAP) online learning management system. APSNA will display the PNPSource Logo on the APSNA Web site and hyperlink the image to The courses will be made available for free for 2014 APSNA Conference attendees and a nominal fee for member nonattendees; other fees will apply for non-APSNA members and non-NAPNAP members. Please be on the lookout for this logo in the next month or so on our APSNA Web site.

After a long absence, we again hosted a roundtable session providing an opportunity for intimate, informal discussion examining pediatric surgical nursing topics, something usually not facilitated by a large session hall. Topics included gastrostomy and ostomy care, advanced chest tube care, member engagement, advanced practice billing, postoperative dietary restrictions, distracted driving and trauma care data collection, J-pouch care, and bowel management. The robust participation thus far has supported this member request.

Back by popular demand, the podium orals were presented on the last day of the conference, addressing innovative topics. Member feedback reflects that the selection and diversity of topics offered kept members engaged and provided insight and perspective in an array of topics.

Our continued collaborative efforts with NAPNAP were highlighted as well. The first was the joint session “Transition Challenges in Chronic Care: Examples from Children with Intestinal Failure,” presented by our own President, Neil Ead, from Hasbro Children’s Hospital, and Dr. Stacee Lareet, a pediatric nurse practitioner of the Liver Transplant and Disease Program at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. This was also presented at NAPNAP’s 35th Annual Conference of Pediatric Health Care held in Boston, Massachusetts, March 11–14, 2014. The second, continuing a tradition started last year, was our APSNA and NAPNAP speaker exchange. Ms. Hillary Collyer, a pediatric nurse practitioner from Hasbro Children’s Hospital, represented APSNA at the NAPNAP Conference, and Dr. Susan Van Cleve, Immediate Past President of NAPNAP, represented NAPNAP at our own conference. Ms. Collyer presented on the “Deteriorating Inpatient Pediatric Patient Requiring ICU Transfer” at NAPNAP, and Dr. Van Cleve spoke on “Addressing the Mental Health Needs of the Hospitalized Pediatric Patient” last May 27, 2014, in Phoenix, Arizona.

The Founder’s Banquet was certainly a highpoint as was the Silent Auction/Membership Mixer, with both events raising spirits and creating a wonderful collegial environment. The Champion Award Recipient this year was posthumously awarded to Dr. Charles A. Lankau, Jr., from Miami Children’s Hospital. The Founder’s Award Recipients were Ms. Barbara Mariscal from San Antonio Pediatric Surgery Associates and Dr. Kim Mciltrot from Johns Hopkins Hospital. Monies collected, which are $1,204.00 this year, for the silent auction will support APSNA’s Research & Education Grant Funds. Several physician colleagues invited to attend or stopping by to the call of gaiety from these two events suggested having a joint cocktail hour next year to celebrate collegial networking.

At that time of this article, the return rate for conference evaluations is 54%, with 81 of the 150 registrants having completed the evaluations, 31% providing freehand feedback, and 95% recommending the conference to their peers. Posters ranked first, followed by the roundtable sessions. Both the preconference and ARS session were solidly positioned in the top 10, and the podium presentation on dysfunctional elimination was certainly popular. The evaluation feedback regarding the ARS include “this was my favorite part of this conference,” “we should have this every year,” “it was fun and interactive,” “it provided insight to see what each person ‘knows,’ and to see the differences in some areas where care is standard, and other areas that require further research or awareness of other treatment options,” and “I learned the most from this review.” The smaller, intimate roundtables and interactive nature of the conference were positively heralded. Suggestions for improvement include more leisure time and/or possibly increasing the number of days while making the daily sessions as shorter, separate sessions to address special interests such as trauma, leadership best practices, scholarly writing/presentation, and professional development. Requests for information regarding the APSNA special interest groups similar to those provided for the working committees and topics on the surgical neonate, the complex critical pediatric patient, pediatric quality-of-life issues, outcomes research, and technology in the emerging healthcare milieu were submitted.

As many of you know, our mission, vision, and voluntary board (BOD) status are guided by our nonprofit organizational designation. As we grow, our operational costs and endeavors must exponentially grow to sustain viability as a specialty organization. Organizational data were provided at the business meeting demonstrating conference costs and registration fees and actual cost per registrant with and without vendor support (Table 1) over the last 6 years. APSNA was fortunate this year to have record-breaking vendor support, having the largest number of vendors in our history, all because of the efforts of our energetic and constant Development Chair. However, this is always in flux and unpredictable, highly dependent on the economy and budgetary constraints. The current BOD was also tasked with critically analyzing and comparing membership costs with other similar organizations; we found that APSNA dues were ($90.00) and still ($110.00) are much lower than similar organizations. After much deliberation, a proposal to increase membership dues was tendered, keeping with industry standards and in an effort to sustain operational costs. Hence, our registration fees and membership dues had a modified overhaul; the latter was approved at the business meeting. Our preliminary numbers indicate that the projected expense for the 2014 Conference is $117,751.00 (Tables 2 and 3), with the per registrant expense (with vendor support) being $545.00, whereas early-bird registration for members was $400.00. These expenses exclude the onsite program and vendor management and registration outsourced this year.

Table 1
Table 1:
Registration Fees: Actual Costs (Vendor Support vs. No Vendor Support)
Table 2
Table 2:
Projected 2014 Conference Budget, Itemizeda
Table 3
Table 3:
Food and Beverage Costs: Projected Costs = $74,500.00a

The success of a professional, successful, socially, and intellectually stimulating and technologically rich program reflects the challenges the organizational leaders absorb toward meeting the needs of the membership, supporting the mission and vision of the organization while carefully weighing program and operational decisions and the constraints of cost efficiency. Our relationship to APSA, although independent (registrations are separate, APSA registered 17 nurse/allied health participants at the special discounted rate), prohibits us from seeking alternative less-expensive venues. Notwithstanding, this relationship continues to be collaborative and invaluable in providing outsourcing guidance that would otherwise fall to BOD and committee members already strained by other organizational obligations (by the more pressing governance and practice issues) as well as professional and personal endeavors and balance. We welcome suggestions and guidance from the membership for future program planning and engagement that are aligned with organizational endeavors.

In conclusion, the success of this conference would not have been possible if not for the work of the program committee, marvelous speakers, and all participants who helped shape this 23rd Scientific Conference into a commemorative and unforgettable account of APSNA’s mission and vision. A special congratulatory appreciation to our poster award winners (elsewhere noted in this publication) for their impeccable professionalism and contributions.

Please make plans to join us for APSNA’s 24th Annual Scientific Conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, on April 27–30, 2015. The call for abstracts will open on July 1 and close on October 1, 2014; if you have any suggestions or feedback, please contact Kathy Leack, APSNA Program Chair (2014–2016), at

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