AORN Blog - The Periop Life

First-Time Attendees: 4 AORN Expo Takeaways


First-Time Attendees: 4 AORN Expo Takeaways

April 21, 2019   

Attending your professional meeting for the first time can be eye-opening, overwhelming, and can open new doors for your career. Two first-timers who recently attended AORN Global Surgical Conference & Expo in Nashville share the highlights.

Most Surprising Moment—The Sheer Size of the Event

Angela Ellis, MSN, RN, CNOR, was shocked to see the number of people in attendance and the tools available to help guide her through the “wealth of educational and data collection opportunities available through sessions and the Expo.”

Michelle Mueller-Paul, RN, was wowed by the sheer number of companies in the Expo “out there supporting us as OR nurses and providing so many learning opportunities to help nurses understand new technologies.”

Bravest Part of the Trip—Speaking Up and Making New Connections

For Ellis, addressing AORN’s House of Delegates about the need for structured curriculum to support perioperative nurses in procedural areas like Interventional Radiology, Angio/Cath Lab, and Endoscopy confirmed for her this concern was shared by others and empowered her to share her own facility’s progress in this work with her chapter and beyond.

Although Mueller-Paul headed to the conference by herself, she says she was “never alone,” whether she was grabbing an Uber with other nurses to the convention center, finding a fun restaurant to finish the day, or even talking about professional development as she begins her path toward leadership.

Top Takeaways from the Conference—Professional Knowledge and Rejuvenation

Learning from general session speakers like Col. Nicole Malachowski and meeting authors like Karyn Buxman rejuvenated Ellis, both intellectually and spiritually. She was able to share her own knowledge as a poster presenter to show the evidence-based quality improvement process her team has implemented to clean thyroid drapes and lead aprons.

Ellis is now also ready to aid the culture shift in her own facility to become surgical smoke-free after attending sessions on eliminating surgical smoke.

Education sessions on OR traffic and noise provided valuable information Mueller-Paul has taken back to her team to reinvigorate efforts to improve safety in these areas. For her own career, Mueller-Paul has begun working on the skills she learned are important for aspiring leaders.

Advice for Nurses Ready to Attend Next Year in Anaheim—Be Ready to Make New Connections

“Come prepared with business cards for the many drawings and connections you will make,” Mueller-Paul advises. She also suggests making a plan for the education sessions, Expo meet-ups with reps, and fun activities you want to fit in so you can hit the ground running once you arrive.

“Be ready to get more involved,” Ellis suggests. After connecting with her chapter president, Ellis is running to fill a vacancy as her chapter secretary. She is also already planning how she will be involved and meet up with colleagues at next year’s meeting.

Check out some of our key conference highlights from this year’s event in Nashville and sign up to be notified when registration opens for AORN Global Surgical Conference & Expo 2020 in Anaheim, CA March 28–April 1, 2020.

Angela Ellis, MSN, RN, CNOR, is perioperative clinical specialist at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL.

Michelle Mueller-Paul, RN, is a RN Circulator in the inpatient Operating Room for ThedaCare in Appleton, WI.