Workshop aims to help rural nursing in Greater Trail region

Selkirk College and UBC offer two-day workshop in Castlegar

The challenging plight of nurses in rural areas like Greater Trail could be righted as two educational institutions are combining forces to weave together a support network.

University of B.C.’s Okanagan campus and Selkirk College are combining forces to provide specialized education for nurses in remote areas of the Kootenays.

UBC and Selkirk are hosting a two-day workshop on Oct. 24-25, as part of the Enhancing Educational Capacity for a Palliative Approach in Rural Nursing at Selkirk College’s Castlegar campus.

The workshop will better prepare rural nurses in palliative care—an area of healthcare that focuses on relieving and preventing the suffering of patients—said Barb Pesut, Canadian Research chair in Health, Ethics and Diversity, and an associate professor of nursing at UBC’s Okanagan campus.

“Many are generalists and feel inadequately prepared when difficult pain management or complicated family issues arise in end-of-life care,” says Pesut.

The workshop is designed to better understand the unique issues of rural care and is open to nurse practitioners, registered nurses, licenced practical nurses and care aides, particularly in the Trail, Castlegar, and Nelson regions.

Those rural nurses face vast challenges in delivering palliative care in remote areas, said Pesut, unlike their urban counterparts where the nurses have access to highly specialized teams for backup.

“In rural areas it is really the expectation of the generalist nurse and the nursing care providers that they provide the palliative approach,” said Pesut. “So it’s challenging in that they don’t have the specialist back up, exacerbated by the fact they don’t always have access to continuing education.”

This initiative is expected to help boost both nurses and providers of nursing care (long term care aides, etc.) in their skill and knowledge.

The program will also include a component of follow up to talk about what nurses are learning, to advance their knowledge further, and to talk about the workplace environment and what facilitates that palliative approach, and what the barriers would be, Pesut noted.

In addition to receiving up-to-date knowledge from highly qualified palliative educators, the interactive format allows them to exchange knowledge about their various roles and practice contexts that will contribute to enhancing knowledge about a team-based approach to care, said Pesut.

The workshop is part of a funded research project is supported by a BC Nursing Research Initiative funded by the Michael Smith Foundation.

Gail Potter, a nursing instructor from Selkirk College, will facilitate the workshops. The workshops involve a two-day commitment and follow-up discussions. An honorarium will be provided to participants.

Those interested in registering can contact Barb Pesut at 250-807-9955, email, or Gail Potter at 250-365-1340, email: