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Pain Interest Group – Nursing Issues (PIGNI)

A Report by Amal Helou Nurse Practioner (Retired and Life memeber of PIGNI)

We used to rotate the meetings to be held at different hospitals that included a local host nurse as well as an outside speaker presenting. One of the major projects that the group had was to create a half or one day pain programme that would be held at the Australian Pain Society (APS) national scientific meeting.

Another goal was to increase nursing involvement in pain management and alow nurses to feel welcome to the multidisciplinary conference. Our educational events were to improve knowledge of the nurses working in acute or surgical settings who were not members of the APS.

We found nurses felt lost at an APS meeting so we also used to have welcome drinks for nurses so they could meet each other during the meeting. We did that at the 1990 combined IASP meeting in Adelaide. Amal met nurses from Canada, NZ and France who collaborated to put in the ground work for developing a pre- conference one day workshop at the IASP World congress in Paris in 1993.

Over the years we opened our group to all clinicians as we aligned ourselves with the APS as being a multidisciplinary group. The APS suggested we call our group Pain Interest Group - Nursing Issues, by SA state counsellor Geoff Gourlay and the then president David Cherry. We had incredible support from the APS to continue to develop our educational initiatives and invite many nurses to attend the annual APS conference and be active members of the society.

We wanted to have representation from every pain service in metropolitan Sydney and NSW, it was our main communication channel. Later on we also spread our wings and developed relationships with similar groups in each state from Vic, SA, Qld and beyond.

Many of the nurses involved in the Pain Interest Group came from an acute pain background and the anaesthetist they worked with wanted to have acute pain covered at the APS national conference. During her time as APS President (2006) she began to lobby to have a pre-conference Acute Pain one day meeting. A very successful meeting was finally held that has now become part of the national APS conference. I think the success of theses meetings was having a collaborative approach with nurses, doctors and members of various colleges and Faculty of Pain Medicine.

Over the years we opened our group to all clinicians as we aligned ourselves with the APS as being a multidisciplinary group. All our meetings were open to all health disciplines. At the local hospital meetings many attended from various disciplines. When the IASP developed the Global year of pain themes we included the topics in our annual one day conference. We constantly lobbied the APS to support nurses

Amal held many positions in PIGNI from founding member, Secretary, Treasurer Vice President, Newsletter editor, conference organiser to President. She encourages nurses to put in the time to continue to share their knowledge and support others entering the field of pain. What is dynamic about this group she says is the ability to see educational needs and collaborate on project that would enhance identified gaps in pain management that we had.

I believe that this is a strong group because of the collegiality they have and a desire to see others grow in their knowledge and skills in pain management. The continued awarding of scholarships for nurses from distant communities is to be commended. We have worked in the development of collaborative projects with the Agency of Clinical Innovation, and the Ministry of Health that are far reaching.