Travel Story: Emily Shepherd

Emily Shepherd from the Robinson Research Institute’s Health of Women and Babies Research Group attended the Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand (PSANZ) 20th Annual Congress, Townsville, in April 2016.

Emily presented on her research Planned early birth versus expectant management for prelabour rupture of membranes at term: a Cochrane systematic review.

This is what Emily had to say about her experience:

 What was a highlight of the conference?

A highlight of the Congress was the great variety in the program content and format. Due to the nature of the venue in Townsville, this year’s program had an increased focus on smaller group sessions ‘Hot Topics in the Tropics’, such as workshops, practical skills and meet the expert meetings. I assisted in organising these sessions through my involvement with the PSANZ Early Career Researcher Committee, and it was wonderful to see delegates enjoying them and receiving positive feedback. I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop ‘Stillbirth prevention: best practice in care of women with decreased fetal movements and fetal growth restriction’ (run by Euan Wallace, Antonia Shand, Vicki Flenady, Adrienne Gordon), which was interactive and informative.

Did you meet any researchers or collaborators of significance? Why are they important to your work?

Throughout the PSANZ Congress there were great opportunities to network and meet with current /future collaborators, and other researchers of significance. In particular, being able to meet with Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Australian and New Zealand Satellite colleagues, including Professor Christine East (Monash University), Associate Professor Vicki Flenady (Mater Research Institute), Dr Julie Brown (The University of Auckland), and Neonatal Group Satellite colleague Lisa Jones (The University of Sydney) was really valuable. I also enjoyed the opportunity to meet with fellow PhD candidates such as Emma McGoldrick and Robyn Lawrence from The University of Auckland, who similarly have an interest in research synthesis, such as the conduct of overviews of reviews.

 Did you attend any satellite or special interest group meetings associated with the conference? If yes, please provide a brief summary.

Prior to the PSANZ Congress I was fortunate to attend the Interdisciplinary Maternal Perinatal Australasian Collaborative Trials (IMPACT) Network Workshop ‘Advancing Perinatal Trials: Maternal and Childhood Follow-up and Priority Topics’. During the Congress I assisted in running a workshop for the Australian and New Zealand Satellites of the Cochrane Collaboration’s Pregnancy and Childbirth and Neonatal Groups ‘New Cochrane initiatives and insights: Opportunities and challenges for evidence-informed health care’.

 How will the experience support you and your research going forward?

Attending both the IMPACT Network meeting and the PSANZ Congress allowed me to stay ‘up-to-date’ and connected to recent advances and directions for maternal and perinatal research, including trials, in Australia and New Zealand. The networking opportunities that the Congress provided, and the opportunity to present my own research, were invaluable! I attended a workshop ‘Career development: How to step up from ECF to CDF’ run by Hayley Dickinson (The Richie Centre); while I am earlier on in my own career, this session was really useful for looking forward to challenges, and rewards, that may await me if I chose to pursue such a pathway!

What was the most exciting thing you learned/experienced at the Conference?

It was very exciting to be able to facilitate a well-attended Cochrane workshop ‘New Cochrane initiatives and insights: Opportunities and challenges for evidence-informed health care’, with colleagues Professor Caroline Crowther, Associate Professor Philippa Middleton, Associate Professor Vicki Flenady, Professor Christine East, Dr Julie Brown and Lisa Jones! Another fabulous experience was the concurrent symposium, run by Montreal Neonatologist, and Clinical Ethicist Dr Annie Janvier and Sydney Children’s Hospital Network Clinical Ethics Coordinator Dr Vicki Xafis ‘Communication matters: empirical and theoretical insights into communication in the clinical context. Not so soft and fuzzy’.

What was the most interesting or unexpected moment of your travel?

An interesting and unexpected moment of the Congress was during the Welcome Reception. Mid-way through the event we were seated and received a fabulous performance from Torres Strait Islander, Christine Anu – including her rendition of ‘My Island Home’! Another very interesting moment of the Congress was during the last Late Breaking Abstracts session, where we learnt from Nadia Bellofiore (The Richie Centre) about the ‘First evidence of a menstruating rodent: the spiny mouse’ and her presentation was thoroughly engaging!

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