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President’s Welcome: 

It’s Been a Phenomenal Year! 

AORN President Missi Merlino, MHA, RN-BC, CNOR, CSSMAORN President Missi Merlino, MHA, RN-BC, CNOR, CSSM, shares her proudest accomplishments, favorite experiences representing AORN, and her hopes for the association’s future.

Since last April when Missi Merlino, MHA, RN-BC, CNOR, CSSM, stepped into her role as AORN President, she says the collective efforts of her board member colleagues, member volunteers and AORN staff have made significant achievements for the association. “AORN has had a phenomenal year with strong financial success due to the diversification of products, services and investments in AORN that previous boards had the courage to take.” 

Advancing the Association 

Merlino attributes successes achieved this year to the volunteer members who dedicated their knowledge to support the legacy the AORN founders envisioned for the association and perioperative nursing. 

One important achievement she notes is the work of the Guidelines Advisory Board to address and implement new evidence rating models for AORN guidelines to advance evidence-based perioperative nursing care. She also credits the Retention and Recruitment Task Force for working diligently to provide resources for an issue every facility struggles with in dealing with staffing. Likewise, the ongoing work of the AORN Fellowship Committee to develop a new membership opportunity as a fellow of AORN with the FAORN designation “will continue to elevate perioperative nursing practice.” 

AORN proved exceptionally nimble this year when new challenges arose, Merlino notes. For example, as global communities continue to address the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, AORN rapidly brought together a tool kit of resources to aid members with information for practice and personal care. 

“The association also fights for nursing through the legislative efforts of our grassroots members related to the evacuation of surgical plume from our work environments—proving as a remarkable example of how nurses get it done to protect the health of all providers in the perioperative setting,” she adds. 

Making Connections 

One of Merlino’s most memorable experiences this past year was during her trip to Guangzhou, China to attend the Chinese Operating Room Nurses meeting to share results from her hospitals’ enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) program. “Following the official meeting, I had the opportunity to tour Guangdong General Hospital and ORs where I met a patient in for a urological procedure that was part of their ERAS protocol. During the tour I was struck by how quiet it was in the hallways—it was a Saturday, but they had 100 scheduled cases!”   

For Merlino personally, an important connection this year and in the time leading up to her presidency was working with friend and colleague AORN Past-President Stephanie Davis, MSHA, RN, CNOR, CSSM. “Stephanie is an amazing leader and the one-on-one time we had is something I will always cherish. 

Looking Ahead 

With her presidential theme to create a 20/20 vision to embrace the changes that are unavoidable in the future, Merlino encourages all perioperative nurses and AORN leaders to prepare for the future. “As healthcare continues to change with technology, I foresee the need to tackle issues related to our practice environments, AORN position statement development, and of the direction of the association.” 

Sharing Insights 

To her colleagues transitioning into board leadership roles, she advises that taking a seat in the boardroom means looking at opportunities strategically to position the association for what is to come.  “Be open to new ideas, think about creative ways to engage not only current members, but the new wave of perioperative nurses in order to further advance the profession.”  

She also recommends board members enjoy their time in service to AORN because it goes fast. “Serving on this board is an incredible experience and the relationships you forge will last a lifetime.” She is excited to see what the next board will accomplish under the leadership of incoming President David Wyatt, PhD, MA, MPH, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, CNOR—"he is a visionary leader full of energy and insight!”