AORN CEO to Retire


Linda Groah, MSN, RN, CNOR, NEA-BC, FAANDenver, CO, May 9, 2024 – Linda K. Groah, MSN, RN, CNOR, NEA-BC, FAAN, the CEO and Executive Director of AORN (Association of periOperative Registered Nurses), has announced her plans to retire at the end of this year after a new CEO is selected.

AORN’s board president, president-elect, treasurer, CFO and Senior HR Director will oversee the search and selection process for a new CEO, which is expected to take six to nine months.

Groah, a veteran perioperative nursing executive, steps down from her role after more than 17 years leading the national nonprofit association that authors the universally recognized nursing standards for surgical patient and team safety.

“Linda has set a high bar of professionalism and innovation over the past 17 years, and we’re thankful for everything she has contributed to advance our specialty and patient safety,” said AORN Board President Nakeisha Tolliver, DNP, MBA, RN.

“Our search committee will be rigorous in finding the very best candidate who understands the rapidly evolving environment that perioperative nurses work in and, most important, how AORN will guide them in providing safe care for patients undergoing surgery in every hospital and ambulatory setting in the country.”

A Legacy of Vision

Groah has been AORN’s longest serving chief executive, taking on the role in March 2007 after nearly 18 years as a Chief Nursing Officer/COO with Kaiser Foundation Hospitals in San Francisco and several other perioperative nursing roles. She had also served as AORN Board President for the 1996-1997 term.

As CEO, Groah has had a key role in advancing changes to improve perioperative nursing practice and furthering AORN’s mission supporting patient and workplace safety. Most important was leading AORN’s evolution from issuing “recommended practices” to a higher standard of perioperative guidelines derived from research and providing evidence-based recommendations.

Groah was one of two nurses to participate in the 2009 World Health Organization’s international conference to standardize a Comprehensive Surgical Checklist aimed at reducing surgical risk and complications. This checklist is now used globally in caring for patients before, during and after surgery.

She has been outspoken on the importance of having a registered nurse circulator as the primary patient advocate in the OR and helped push for legislation or regulation in 25 states requiring an RN circulator.

Under her leadership in 2016, AORN launched a national advocacy and education initiative to eliminate surgical smoke in operating rooms and reduce health hazards impacting OR nurses. Legislation has successfully passed in 17 states to date, with several others pending.

As nursing shortages grew to a national crisis, Groah focused on growing the pipeline of perioperative nurses. She created partnerships with colleges to educate undergraduate nursing students about the surgical specialty. AORN’s Introduction to Perioperative Nursing course is now offered as an elective in more than 60 US colleges and has been shown to increase those choosing perioperative practice for their career.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Groah elevated AORN’s influence on safe surgical practice. She was instrumental in building a coalition with leaders among the American College of Surgeons, the American Society of Anesthesiologists, the American Hospital Association and AORN to determine processes and provide a roadmap for facilities and surgical teams to safely resume surgeries.

The pandemic also spotlighted Groah’s longstanding commitment to invest in new technology and transform AORN into a digital company. Just two months after canceling its annual Global Surgical Conference & Expo 2020, AORN became one of the first healthcare associations to transition to a fully virtual conference and tradeshow.

“There was no modern roadmap for leading an organization through a global crisis that would influence patient care while restructuring an organization to maintain solvency. But Linda modeled resilience for staff and steered us to embrace greater collaboration and innovation,” said AORN CFO James Cousin.

Continued Achievements

In 2017, Groah established AORN Syntegrity, a subsidiary that develops solutions for healthcare facilities to improve documentation of perioperative workflows, surgical scheduling, and the visibility of nursing's impact on outcomes. More than 800 facilities now use AORN Syntegrity within their electronic health records.

Under Groah’s leadership, AORN also acquired two companies: Pfiedler Education Inc. in 2015 and Outpatient Surgery Magazine in 2018.

“Linda’s pursuit of strong strategic and financial outcomes has led AORN to achieve higher membership, record revenues, largest number of employees, creation of new successful products and services and strong partnerships with associations, medical device companies and health systems,” Cousin said. 

During Groah's tenure, AORN has received multiple awards for being a top workplace and for advancements in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Newsweek magazine also listed AORN among its Top Online Learning Providers. Groah herself has been recognized by Becker's Healthcare as a "Patient safety expert to know" for 10 consecutive years.

 “Linda’s influence goes well beyond her business acumen,” Tolliver said. “She is first and foremost a nurse. She demonstrates that in how she treats people with compassion, and how she puts the needs of perioperative nurses and their patients as AORN’s first priority.”

About AORN

The Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN), supports the professional practice of more than 200,000 perioperative nurses by providing evidence-based research, education, and practice standards to keep healthcare workers safe and enable optimal outcomes for patients undergoing operative and other invasive procedures.