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National Robotics Study Day

We were very pleased to host the first national nursing robotics study day recently.

During the event, we heard from robotic technology providers, leading surgeons and robotic assistants about the latest trends in robotic surgery technology. It also gave Registered Nurses from around the country a chance to get together, share knowledge and hold a forum on the pathway for further developing robotic assistants’ skills.

For those who weren’t able to attend, below are some key insights from the day:

  • Cheryl Hughes (Device Technologies) discussed the evolution of the surgical robot, the latest versions available and which applications they were suitable for. Several public hospitals in Australia now have robotic systems in place making the technology available for publicly funded procedures.
  • Andrew Cho (Trans Oral Robotic Surgeon) described the use of the surgical robot to operate on oral/throat cancers, and the amazing results from the surgery which is quicker than traditional methods with considerable less side effects/complications for patients.
  • Jim Duthie (Urologist) described the important role that robotic assistants take and how they can influence the success of a procedure. He emphasised the significance of the assistants’ technical ability as for some nurses, this skill is not easily learned.
  • Rosie Benfield (Robotic Assistant, Christchurch Southern Cross Hospital) explained the role of the assistant during partial nephrectomy, detailing the surgical technique and how the assistant can be helpful to support the surgeon working from the console.

We then had three panel presentations:

  • OT panel (Ingrid Fisher, Grace Hospital; Deb Woodcock, North Harbour Southern Cross; and Meg Agnew, Christchurch Southern Cross) – the three theatre charge nurses/senior nurses discussed the best way to ensure efficiencies in theatre; this related mainly to building the nursing team confidence.
  • Robotic Prostatectomy panel (Sharon Rendell, Grace Hospital; Judy Kelly, Grace Hospital; and Rosie Benfield, Christchurch Southern Cross Hospital). The three robotic specialty nurses discussed the different aspects of nursing care pre-op, intra-operatively, immediately post-op and after discharge. Developing a rapport and ensuring that patients understood the potential side-effects, while always giving them an opportunity to ask questions to clarify their understanding was important. The role of exercise as positively influencing the patient’s outcome from surgery was stressed.
  • Pathway to robotic assistance panel (Jim Duthie, Urologist; Yvonne Morgan, Tutor First Surgical Assistant programme, University of Auckland; and Carey Campbell, Chief Nurse Advisor, Southern cross Hospitals). The three panellists took differing perspectives on the role. Carey Campbell discussed the scope of a RN and whether the robotic assistant role was within the RN scope of practice, stating that it is an extended scope, so requires the nurse to be able to demonstrate education completed and competence with the role. Jim Duthie stressed the significance of physical competence for the skills required and a prescribed learning programme, learning with guidance/mentorship on the job. Yvonne Morgan is a tutor for the first surgical assistant programme and she outlined the requirements for the course and encouraged the robotic assistants to consider the course to extend their scope.

Overall an excellent day, with lots of shared learning. Keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for future educational events and continuing professional development presentations run by the Grace Education Centre.


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From left to right: Presenters Jim Duthie (Urologist) and Andrew Cho (Trans Oral Robotic surgeon) chat with Janet Keys (Grace General Manager) during the event.

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Far right: Cheryl Hughes (from da Vinci robot distributors, Device Technologies) imparting the latest on the evolution of robotics surgery technology to robotics study day attendees.

About Grace

At Grace we are dedicated to delivering the best of surgical care for our patients with a comprehensive range of surgical services supported by experienced nursing staff.



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