AORN Presents Virtual Congress 2020

When stories of COVID-19 and its risk of spread began to hit the news media earlier this year, the nation focused its attention on the influx of cases in California. Concurrently, AORN leadership worked with Orange County and California officials as well as the Anaheim Convention Center to evaluate the potential risk of illness for the attendees at the upcoming Global Surgical Conference & Expo. Based on our clinical understanding and our proactive communications efforts, we came to the disappointing conclusion that our conference in Anaheim must be canceled.

With that decision, the AORN board of directors and leadership came together to plan and present the association’s first virtual Congress. 

Forum and the two meetings of the House of Delegates

On March 28, AORN launched in virtual format the first of the three business meetings that comprise the association’s Congress with its member Forum which was followed on March 29 with the First House of Delegates and the Second House of Delegates and election results on April 1.

Key reports and presentations from the member Forum, First House of Delegates and Second House of Delegates can be downloaded from the links below for further details. The exception is the awards which will be presented in the Virtual Global Surgical Conference & Expo 2020 on May 1, 2020.

Voting Results

Congratulations to the following candidates elected to the 2020-2021 term. View Full Bios.





Holly S. Ervine, MSN, RN, NPD-BC CNOR


Vice President

Elizabeth S. Pincus, MSN, MBA, RN, ACNS-BC, CNS-CP, CNOR



Darlene B. Murdock, BSN, BA, RN, CNOR


Board of Directors

Brandy L. Miller, MHA, MSN, RN, CNOR
J. Stephen Balog, MSN, RN, CNOR
Kristy P. Simmons, MSN, RN, CNOR


Nominating Committee

David Reinhart, MSN, MBA, RN, CNOR
Jeffrey R. Keane, BSN, RN, CNOR 
Amy Brunson, MSN, RN, CNOR


Missi MerlinoMissi Merlino, MHA,
AORN President

March 28, 2020

AORN President Missi Merlino, MHA, RN-BC, CNOR, CSSM presided and opened the interactive virtual Congress by saying, “We are aware of the AORN Bylaws’ requirement that the annual membership meeting be face-to-face. Given the government mandates and recommendations regarding group gatherings, we are conducting Congress meeting electronically this year with participants being able to see speakers and ask questions.”

In her greeting, Merlino expressed disappointment over the cancellation of the Global Surgical Conference & Expo 2020 and recognized the value of the technology that serves to bring our members together for the business of the association.

Presentations over a two-hour period covered:

House of Delegates

Linda Groah LInda Groah, MSN RN CNOR NEA-BC FAAN
AORN CEO/Executive Director

First House of Delegates
April 1, 2020

Following a personal greeting, President Missi Merlino introduced Amy Hader, JD, General Counsel and Director of Government Affairs for AORN, who would serve as both parliamentarian and legal counsel for this membership meeting. President Merlino confirmed that a quorum was present consistent with the AORN Bylaws and as required under New York law.

The First House of Delegates included these items:

  • Treasurer’s Report on the association’s financial success in 2019 and the potential impact of COVID-19 on 2020 revenues
  • President’s Report on AORN’s achievements in new product development and improved membership value in the 2019-2020 term
  • Executive Director’s Report with an overview of the changing world of health care, the resiliency of perioperative nurses, and a summary of the subsidiaries’ achievements (Outpatient Surgery Magazine, Pfiedler Education, AORN Syntegrity)
  • AORN Foundation Report on supporting members’ professional development and education
  • AORN Go Clear Award™ recipients
  • Awards Announcements - these will be posted May 1 as part of the  Virtual Global Surgical Conference & Expo 2020 in the AORN Hall of Fame.
  • Employer Recognition where President Merlino honored her facility, Baylor Scott & White Medical Center, Temple and her colleagues for their support during her tenure as AORN president

David Wyatt, PhD, MA, MPH, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, CNOR David Wyatt, PhD, MA, MPH, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, CNOR
Incoming AORN President (2020-2021)

Second House of Delegates
April 1, 2020

President Missi Merlino called the meeting to order and expressed her appreciation for all the work so many had put toward creating Global Surgical Conference & Expo 2020 in Anaheim. She called attention to speakers, chapter members who were involved in preparing for onsite chapter meetings, specialty assembly members, the volunteers who offered to serve as a mentor to one of the first time attendees, the first-time attendees who were hoping to make it to their first AORN conference, all attendees, the AORN staff, contractors, exhibiting companies and most of all, the volunteers in Anaheim.

  • Volunteer Recognition, President Missi Merlino, MHA, RN-BC, CNOR, CSSM, honored Anaheim’s Volunteer Coordinator Melinda Nguyen
  • Staff Award for the AORN individual, department, or group who’s demonstrated exceptional contributions to the organization was presented to the AORN Guidelines Team. This includes all of the staff who are involved in researching and writing the Guidelines, the publications team who edits guidelines, the marketing team, and the presenters at the Beyond the Essentials fall workshops. 
  • Teller’s Report, Heidi Nanavati, MSN, CRNP, CNOR, Nominating Committee Chair, presented the number of ballots cast and the abstentions for each office
  • Election Results, Missi Merlino presented the names of the individuals elected to the AORN Board of Directors and the Nominating Committee (see above)
  • Missi Merlino passed the gavel to President-elect David Wyatt, PhD, MA, MPH, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, CNOR
  • President’s Address, President David Wyatt shared the theme for the 2020 Expo and his vision to address the challenges as well as the opportunities facing our association and our membership

To see all AORN Award Winners – Visit the AORN Hall of Fame during Virtual Global Surgical Conference & Expo 2020 on May 1.