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AORN Blog - The Periop Life

What Inspires Your Surgical Practice?

A Conversation with Elizabeth Austin, DNP, RN, CNOR, and Darlene Murdock, BSN, BA, RN, CNOR


What Inspires Your Surgical Practice?

December 16, 2018     

Stories bring perioperative nurses together. AORN nurses are gathering to share the experiences that help them love surgical nursing.

Coming together at an annual conference helps nurses learn and develop professionally, but meeting up with colleagues also provides a chance to share stories.

Elizabeth Austin, Darlene Murdock, and their nurse colleagues believe it’s the stories from individual practice that tie nurses together and help them remember why they love what they do.

“I will never forget the first time a patient asked me to pray for her,” Murdock recalls.

“My patient’s prognosis was poor. I could see the fright deep in her eyes. There was no family with her—she was all alone. I took her frail trembling hands and spoke the prayer my mother taught me as a child. She held on to my hands tightly, then she hugged me and softly whispered, ‘Thank you, you are an angel’ and then she boldly proclaimed, ‘Now I’m ready for my surgery.’ I looked into her eyes and saw her look of fear was gone.”

Murdock says it’s sharing stories like this that give her an outlet for honoring the compassion and connection she feels for her patients to ease their fears, find peace, and restore their hope.

Sharing our stories lets others know that they are NOT alone, according to Elizabeth Austin, who always makes time at AORN’s annual conference to connect with her colleagues and swap stories. “These stories also help us put our heartbreaks and our joys in perspective and feel connected to our colleagues, so we learn from our common stories and experiences.”

They worry that too often perioperative nurses don’t take the time to share their stories, instead burying the good and bad at the end of their shift.

By telling inspirational stories, Murdock says, we are able to spread positivity throughout the profession, while also acknowledging the meaningfulness of perioperative nursing—which helps build resilience to combat burnout and emotional distress.

“Sometimes we are so focused on caring for our patients and miss living in the moment. Personal stories allow us to re-live those moments that enrich our souls, restore hope, and allow for deep connections with our colleagues and peers, which ultimately adds value to our profession.”

To help encourage this storytelling, Austin and Murdock will be joining perioperative nurse colleagues Kristy Wheeler, BSN, RN, CNOR, Kristy P. Simmons, MSN, RN, CNOR, and Nakeisha D. Washington, MSN, MBA, RN, CNOR, on April 8 at AORN Global Surgical Conference to share their stories and invite attendees to share, too.