Remember Why You Work in Surgery

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The beauty of compassionate patient care can reenergize your career.


TOUGH LOVE Pamela Bevelhymer
PERSONAL CONNECTION The last thing a patient sees before they lose consciousness are the eyes of a perioperative nurse.

Surgical nurses have more of an opportunity than most to create what's known in Irish Folklore as "thin places" — in which the veil between heaven and earth is removed for a moment so as to bring us closer to the divine. William Duffy, RN, MJ, CNOR, FAAN, told attendees at Virtual OR Excellence how to weed through distractions and business concerns to create these places for patients in their daily practice.

"Nursing is a calling and people got into it to help people, but they're often judged on productivity and turnover times," said Mr. Duffy, director of the health systems management MSN program at Loyola University's Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. "You can't ignore those factors, of course, but the decision of how much love and compassion you bring to your job is yours alone."

The focus of a facility's good financial stewardship explains a fascinating disconnect: Often, patients see and value the personal touch of nurses, but the nurses themselves often miss it. The trick, said Mr. Duffy, is to eliminate daily distractions by looking for signs, and one is the opportunity to create thin places for your patients.

By thinking about the patient's mindset — realizing they're frightened, just said goodbye to their loved ones and are naked and vulnerable before the surgery begins — you'll realize that they're yearning for connection and love at that moment.

"We can heal the souls of our patients by taking a second to show compassion with a light touch of their arm, a squeeze of their hand or simply by providing a listening ear at one of the scariest and most dehumanizing moments of their lives," said Mr. Duffy. "The only person who can fill that void at that moment is a perioperative nurse. Every day they leave their legacy in the world through patient care."

If you haven't yet registered for Virtual OR Excellence, which runs through Nov. 20 and is free to Outpatient Surgery subscribers and AORN members, there's still time to sign up for access to incredible learning and networking opportunities.

Adam Taylor

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