International Nurses Congress an eye-opener for Nurse Educator
Publish Date: Wednesday, 2 August 2023
International Nurses Congress an eye-opener for Nurse Educator
SIT Acting Head of School of Nursing, Karyn Madden - pictured with mixed reality headsets used in clinical teaching - attended the prestigious International Council of Nurses’ Congress in Canada at the beginning of July, presenting two research posters, including her PhD topic, student experiences in immersive holographic mixed reality nursing simulation.
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Southern Institute of Technology | Te Pūkenga Acting Head of School of Nursing, Karyn Madden, had an unforgettable experience recently when she attended the International Council of Nurses’ Congress in Canada to present her PhD research.

Held at the Palais Des Congrès of Montréal, 1st-5th July, Ms Madden was supported by SIT to attend, having had two abstracts for research posters accepted. She said the event was an eye-opener; the sheer scale and size of it was a new experience. ”I’ve never attended anything that large before, it was huge, and to be honest, it was quite overwhelming.” More than 6,000 nurses, health experts, and representatives from international organisations, nursing schools, and governments, attended the conference. They even had their own opening ceremony. Ms Madden said it felt like the Olympic Games as each country was welcomed; there were flags and banners, with some nations wearing traditional clothing. “The nurses from Japan were in kimonos and South Africans [were] in traditional dress.” Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, also made an appearance.

Now halfway through her PhD, Ms Madden’s area of research is based on student experiences with the latest technology used in clinical teaching, ranging from entirely virtual environments which completely transport the learner in time, space, and scale, to holographic overlays, used in conjunction with the real environment. Data was collected across five institutes from three countries, and she is now in the data analysis stage. Ms Madden said the presentations went well (her PhD poster and a second poster on a longitudinal study), and there were other positive outcomes in attending the conference.

As well as covering the large scale challenges such as racism, poverty and climate change, the conference also highlighted the common ground nurses experienced at a local level. “The issues we’re experiencing in New Zealand are happening globally. It was reassuring for me to hear that the problems [in nursing] were the same,” Ms Madden said.

The major challenge currently facing the healthcare sector is insufficient numbers of nurses, estimated to be 13 million globally by 2030. Ms Madden said nurse numbers had been gradually declining, “then Covid-19 happened ... [in New Zealand] a lot of nurses retired”, and those shortages have become more pronounced. Other common issues mentioned were around funding and dealing with exhaustion and burnout within the nursing workforce. “It was quite humbling talking to other nurses, actually we had so many commonalities ...” it drew them together during the conference.     

In addressing the many issues, Ms Madden believes the answers can be found in education. “We have such a vital role to play with the next generation of nurses.”  Whilst they were asking the questions around how to attract people into the nursing profession, at a local level, SIT Nursing programmes continued to attract applications. “I think the solution is ensuring nursing education is done correctly ... if we can recruit and retain nurses, it will contribute significantly towards alleviating the major issues,” she said. 

Ms Madden added coming together to discuss the big challenges facing the sector was an encouraging and energising experience. “It was a long way to go but completely worth it. It opened my eyes ... the thing I took away from it were the struggles we have here in New Zealand are replicated across the globe.”

The biennial event will next be held in Helsinki, Finland, in 2025.