ERUS 2014: Shifting roles for nurses and the importance of certification

23 October 2014

Uniquely for a Section Meeting, the ERUS Meeting in Amsterdam featured a full-day programme for nurses involved or interested in robotic surgery. With ERUS coming under the wings of the EAU, the EAUN is now cooperating with the ERUS nurses’ group. Special topics were covered, with opportunities for knowledge exchange and hands-on training.

Mr. Willem De Blok, registered nurse in Amsterdam and local organiser for the EAUN Programme in Amsterdam on September 17th spoke to us looking back on the successful day. The EAU Robotic Urology Section Meeting is the only specialised meeting with its own nurses programme: “I think ERUS can be commended for this, although the nurses did take the initiative as well. When ERUS was founded, there was a simultaneous desire to include nurses in the emerging field of robotic urology. The whole team, from surgeons to nurses, should be certified and trained for robotic urology.”

De Blok on the roles of nurses in the OR: “There are some international differences, which become apparent at meetings like this. In some countries, the nurse is a surgeon’s first assistant whereas in others one professor is required to assist another. In the Netherlands, we use the 80/20 system, in which 80% of the patients only need standard, protocolled care. Nurses or OR assistants have a larger role to play, taking care of routine procedures so that the surgeon can focus on the 20% of patients that do require specialist care. In the UK, there is a similar division of labour although it’s not formally arranged this way like in the United States or Canada, which pioneered the concept of the nurse practitioner.”

The day’s programme attracted 76 nurses (including faculty) and offered lectures and workshops on a variety of topics including cost-efficiency throughout robotic procedures, a case of five prostatectomies in one day, and state-of-the-art overview lectures from urologists. Break-out sessions allowed ward and OR nurses to attend a special scientific programme, as well as an opportunity for hands-on training. “The hands-on training was popular and well-received. We would have dearly liked to give more nurses the opportunity to take part in hands-on training, but we were limited by the number of machines available.”

The day’s programme ended with a frank discussion with a patient who suffered some complications following robotic prostatectomy. Involving a patient gave the attending nurses a good indication of how a patient experiences the whole procedure, and also allowed them to ask questions that one would not necessarily ask one’s own patients as they are treated. De Blok: “The patient was very open to talk about issues like incontinence and impotence, including the end of his relationship as a result of the procedure. As nurses, we of course deal with the patient a lot more than the surgeons, including pre- and post-op. It’s important that we keep this human element in mind at meetings like these.”