Because perioperative nurses may work in preop, OR or PACU, their roles vary, and the critical information they need to know can be quite expansive. In all roles and settings, periop nurses should know about clinical resources that support them and educational opportunities that help them advance their careers.
Speaking from their own experiences, Lisa Spruce, DNP, RN, CNS-CP, CNOR, ACNS, ACNP, FAAN, director of evidence-based perioperative practice, Association of periOperative Registered Nurses, and Susan D. Root, MSN, RN, CNOR, manager, perioperative education, AORN, talk about these topics, as well as the specialty’s key issues in evidence-based practice, in this Q&A.
Q: What are the hot topics in evidence-based practice and periop nursing?
A: Some hot topics being discussed in the perioperative nursing community are surgical attire, surgical smoke evacuation, processing flexible endoscopes and prevention of perioperative pressure injury. It is important for perioperative nurses to know what the word ‘evidence’ means when reviewing the literature on these or any topic.
All types of evidence should be reviewed when considering practice changes. Many times in nursing and healthcare, we do not have randomized controlled trials, which are considered the gold standard of scientific research. These types of studies may be impossible to conduct because of the potential of placing patients at harm or putting them at risk. As a result, we must turn to other types of research, including case studies. Case studies are not viewed as research but are useful because they have occurred in real world settings. We know if an incident can happen once, it can happen again, and the patient outcomes from case studies shed a different light on a particular topic.
AORN’s Guidelines for Perioperative Practice provide recommendations for practice, supported by the most current research. Perioperative nurses should be diligent about staying current with guidelines and reading the AORN Journal, a monthly publication with articles that have been peer reviewed. AORN membership includes the journal as well as several newsletters each month that support practice and professional development.
Q: Do you find that periop nurses gravitate toward a particular graduate degree?
A: We have seen perioperative nurses pursue both MSN and DNP degrees, and many get certified as advanced practice nurses. Nurse practitioner certificates allow them to work with surgeons, managing perioperative patient care, while clinical nurse specialist certificates enable them to work in any periop setting providing patient care or educating other periop nurses. Some OR nurses have pursued the registered nurse first assistant credential in addition to the APN degree.
Q: What words of wisdom do you share with those who wish to pursue an advanced degree?
A: It is important while in school to have all of your assignment due dates ahead of time and plan your schedule around them. Giving yourself extra time for difficult or time-consuming assignments is important so you are not late with an assignment and you have time to review before submitting it. One thing that can help is to incorporate your assignments into your personal calendar so you can see what appointments, travel or activities you have planned during your school term and be able to adjust them as needed.
It is also important to recognize there is never a good time to go back to school; you have to decide to do it and go for it. School for master’s or doctoral degrees is a challenge and having a supportive family, friends and job setting is very helpful. You also have to realize that while in school you have to give up some things you were doing before, from social activities and trips to extra job duties. Something usually has to give until you graduate from the program.
Q: What AORN educational opportunities do you share with periop nurses?
A: AORN offers numerous continuing education opportunities that can be found on our website for members and nonmembers. Membership in the association supports nurses’ professional development with job resources, weekly newsletters and reduced costs for face-to-face education, as well as free access to tool kits and many online educational resources. The AORN Journal, for members, always includes CE articles.
The AORN Global Surgical Conference & Expo, in Boston, April 1-5, 2017, provides education sessions along multiple education tracks for staff and managers, CE offerings, hands-on simulation training, and the largest surgical products trade show in the U.S.
Q: What are the latest educational resources AORN offers to periop nurses?
A: The Periop Mastery program offers a unique patented learning methodology that enables healthcare facilities to maintain nurse competency, especially related to the AORN Guidelines for Perioperative Practice.
Although it is not new, we would be remiss in not mentioning Periop 101: A Core Curriculum. The curriculum has continued to evolve since its inception in 1999 into a highly interactive blended course that incorporates didactic content, hands-on skills labs and a clinical preceptorship assisting healthcare facilities to educate new grads and experienced nurses in the art and science of perioperative nursing. The three course versions currently available are RN, OB-RN Circulator and Ambulatory Surgery RN.
AORN provides educational resources for perioperative nurses working in ambulatory as well as acute care settings. Most recently, the association introduced the Ambulatory Administrator Skills Course, a valuable resource for new and experienced nurses who want to learn the ins and outs of regulatory compliance, accreditation, budgeting and reporting. It also is important to those who want to prepare for the CASC exam. The skills course is taught several times each year at AORN’s headquarters in Denver.