I recently had the pleasure of attending two associated events about pediatric pain in White Point Nova Scotia, Canada. The first was a training institute organized by Pain in Child Health Institute (PICH), which is a Canadian Institute of Health Research Strategic Training initiative whose mandate is to foster new and upcoming pediatric pain researchers. The title of this year’s institute was “Tools for Your Career as a Pediatric Pain Researcher”. The second event was the 10th annual International Forum on Pediatric Pain (IFPP) titled, “One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Personalized Approaches to Pediatric Pain Management”. These consecutive events involved some of the world’s top pediatric pain scientists from a variety of disciplines creating an unparalleled interdisciplinary, holistic and incredibly current exchange for all to experience and learn from. The IFPP event boasted over 140 delegates in attendance as well as many as 160 attending the social events and breaks.
The events were graciously hosted at the White Point Beach resort, a breathtaking spot on the Atlantic Ocean where our entire group stayed in oceanfront cottages, experienced a true Maritime rain and made friends with the infamous bunny population. While the pediatric pain research community is rather modest in size, they make up for it in the quality of scientists who are committed to improving the lives of children who experience pain and their families. They are also a very welcoming group. As the site in White Point is rather remote, the opportunities for networking during breaks from the sessions as well as organized activities such as the mentoring breakfasts and post-conference gala were extensive. Coupled with an outgoing and open attitude, one is sure to meet, collaborate, and give and receive feedback on relevant issues in academia, pediatric pain, pain, or nursing from colleagues around the world.
The faculty and researchers present at these events were inspirational and international leaders in their respective discipline fields as well as the field of pediatric pain. A few examples of the calibre of mentors that a new research trainee such as myself had the pleasure of meeting were: Dr. Ken Craig, who had just been inducted as an Officer in the Order of Canada (one of our countries highest civilian honours) for his dedicated work in pediatric pain research. Another was a true nursing leader, Dr. Celeste Johnson, a nurse scientist pioneer who’s career involved being the president of the Canadian Pain Society as one of her many accomplishments.
There were many exciting topics discussed throughout both events but the one that stood out to me was the how to disseminate quality evidence to those who needed it. There were many innovative research strategies presented to help accomplish this ranging from apps for personal cell phones to the use of social media to engage users. I am so happy to see that pediatric pain research is remaining on the cutting age in our increasingly technological world to connect with parents, their children, and clinicians. In true mentorship style, associated with these two events there were associated hashtags and some dynamic discussions on social media. These discussions can be accessed by viewing the live tweets from the events under the hashtags #PICH and #IFPP2015. In keeping with dissemination techniques to reach larger audiences, Dr. Christine Chambers presented her latest research program “It Doesn’t Have to Hurt”. This research program uses social media and blogs hosted in collaboration with the Yummy Mummy Club to get quality evidence on pediatric pain management strategies to those who need it, parents. More information can be found on their website www.itdoesnhavetohurt.ca or their twitter hashtag #itdoesnthavetohurt.
Finally I would not have been able to attend the inspiring IFPP conference without the support of PICH and the Registered Nursing Association of Ontario’s, Pediatric Nursing Interest Group, PedNIG. With their support I was able to attend IFPP and present my master’s research proposal during the poster presentation portion of the conference. This provided a rich opportunity to receive feedback about my project from top pediatric pain scientists. The quality and amount of feedback I received is incredible. I will be able to fine-tune my project based on this feedback and helping to tighten the rigor of my project.
I want to continue to improve the lives of children in the healthcare setting. Attending these events with the help of my sponsors has allowed me to meet others who share my passion. In the words of Dr. Rebecca Pillai Riddel (a gifted researcher who attended these events), striving for perfection is neither realistic nor effective, but when you surround yourself with passionate people who set and achieve very high goals, academic breakthroughs become possible.
If you are looking for more information about PICH or IFPP check out their respective websites:
Dr. Stefan Friedrichsdorf MD, FAAP has also posted some of his presentations from both events on his website at http://noneedlesspain.org/wp/
Finally, some of the international trainees who were able to attend the events (and many whom I had a chance to meet) were sponsored by The Mayday Fund, which is a philanthropic foundation whose mission is to help improve pain management. The feedback I received on my proposal from international trainees was critical and helped me truly understand the importance of cultural collaboration. Thank you to MayDay Fund, as I would not have had the opportunity to learn from these international trainees without your support.