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AORN Blog - The Periop Life

4 Tips to Host Your Surgery Open House (and Why You Need To)

A Conversation with Larry Asplin, MSN, RN, CNOR, CSSM


4 Tips to Host Your Surgery Open House

July 24, 2018     

We were looking for a way to help our staff connect with the community because working in an environment like the OR that is closed to the public can make staff feel isolated. We decided to trial a small Surgery Open House during Perioperative Nurse Week in November to invite the community beyond our double doors.

That was 1998. Twenty years later that first small gathering of staff and their family members in several ORs has ballooned to a major annual event with more than 700 people from the community, including past patients, hospital employees and their families, and even students, touring through 8 ORs.

Encouraging Community, Promoting Patient Safety

My favorite part of these open houses is seeing the pride our perioperative staff feel in volunteering their time to share details about their chosen profession with their community.

Surgeons help visitors experience what it’s like to perform surgery using a surgical robot. Anesthesia providers show how they monitor patients in the OR and share the importance of their roles.

Sterile processing professionals demonstrate what happens behind the scenes to prepare surgical instruments for a safe procedure.

Nurses walk former and future patients and families through each step of perioperative care, sharing how the processes from preop to postop work to protect patients.

This year we are expanding our reach by inviting our state and national legislative representatives to understand how legislative decisions directly impact our patients and team members.

Tips to Host Your Open House

We have learned so much in our 20 years of hosting our Surgery Open House. Here are 4 tips to consider in planning your own open house:

1. Plan Early

We start planning six months prior to the event to talk about what worked last year, what needs to be tweaked for this year, and who to involve to generate excitement.

2. Ramp Up Staff Excitement

Volunteers are the backbone of making an open house work because they are thrilled to be involved and their excitement inspires the energy that will make the open house successful with staff and community.

We form a dedicated committee of volunteer planners to encourage excitement and staff support for running the open house.

3. Get Marketing Involved

Community outreach is key to a successful open house and communications/marketing staff know just how to connect with a range of community members, including students and legislators.

4. Coordinate With Administration

We run a normal surgical schedule during our Open House in our 16 other ORs—the 8 ORs dedicated to the Open House are in a segregated area, which helps with logistics for traffic to maintain safety for our surgical patients.

This balance requires strong collaboration between our hospital administration to support facility involvement and our volunteer staff to successfully open our ORs to the public.

Certainly, an Open House involves work – but the payoff in staff pride and community engagement is well worth the effort!

Larry Asplin, MSN, RN, CNOR, CSSM, is the Clinical Director of Surgery/Sterile Processing at St. Cloud Hospital in St. Cloud, MN.