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Ideas That Work
Shop the Show Floor
OSD Staff
Publish Date: May 13, 2008   |  Tags:   Ideas That Work

A nurse who walks into an exhibit hall without a plan is a nurse who's about to waste her time. Mary Wilson and Dawn Yost, nurses at West Virginia University Hospitals in Morgantown, W.Va., offer their tips for shopping show floors smarter.

  • Plot your travels. Exhibit halls are too large and your time is too valuable to stroll aimlessly from row to row. Check with your staff and surgeons for equipment or supplies you're looking to upgrade before leaving for a conference. Make a categorized list of your facility's needs, meet with the staff who'll be attending the conference and assign each a category to investigate. Check the host association's Web site. You'll find a list of the exhibiting companies, their booth numbers and a map of the conference hall. Compare the list to your assignments, determine the companies you'll need to visit, and note their booth numbers and locations. You'll be ready hit the floor running.
  • Bide your time. Avoid exhibit halls on the first day they open. That's when many of your colleagues look to fill their complimentary totes with squishy, stress-relieving swag. Hit the show floor on the final day instead. Traffic in the aisles and around company booths will be reduced, giving you quality face time with company reps who can discuss their products and answer your questions in a relaxed, unrushed atmosphere.
  • Speak the language. Ask for the rep who covers your geographic area and share your specific shopping goals as soon as you arrive at a booth. Be assertive and confident with your interests and the equipment you want to see. Cut through the sales rhetoric, take control of the conversation and dictate the topics discussed. When your identification card is swiped, have them note the specific sales brochures you want to receive to limit post-conference mail and phone calls. Also, use your time with reps to provide feedback about their products. They truly like to hear from the front-line users and your feedback may spark future design changes that benefit you and your colleagues.
  • Be accountable. After the conference, dedicate a few minutes during ensuing staff meetings to report your findings to those who didn't attend the conference. Each attendee should discuss the products they reviewed, including their unique features, potential benefits to your facility and cost against your budgetary constraints.

Put Your Pre-registration Form Online
We've taken the idea of having patients fill out a pre-op assessment form ("Enlist Patient's Assistance in Pre-op Assessment," April, page 18) a step further. We offer a pre-registration form on our Web site, www.stlouisspine.com. Patients complete this secure form and send it to my e-mail inbox. After I review and print the form, it's saved in a password-protected file. Some of our patients print the form and either fax or mail it in. Our ongoing QI study on the form's effect on staffing with regards to the pre-op phone call has noted a 10- to 15-minute decrease in call times. In addition to decreasing our call times, the form initiates patient participation in their care from the moment the case is scheduled.

Angie Ford, RN, BSN
St. Louis Spine Surgery Center
Creve Coeur, Mo.
[email protected]

Get Your Techs to Think on Their Feet
We hired our surgical technicians straight out of internship programs. Though very bright and quick learners, they hadn't experienced a lot of cases that fell outside the norm and were somewhat limited in practical OR experience. We're a small community hospital without the resources to send techs to a major trauma center to gain experience, so we needed to mentor them ourselves. Here's what we did.

We found that while they could expertly pull cases based on the physicians' computer-generated preference cards, they weren't able to anticipate unknown situations. We shortened their learning curve by getting them to ask, "What is the worst thing that could happen?" while preparing equipment and supplies for each case. Through advance discussion of scheduled cases, as well as "war stories" of the worst cases our seasoned surgical personnel witnessed in the past, our techs gained the knowledge that comes only with experience.

The ability to anticipate and plan for that one worst-case scenario, particularly in terms of having the instruments that were not on the preference card on hand, made a big impact in assisting the surgical team. For example, if the surgeon's work suddenly goes deeper and he needs longer instruments, or takes him into more delicate tissue and he needs finer forceps, the tech is likely to have the right items right there.

We encourage our techs to be prepared for any situation right from their orientation and we reinforce this on an ongoing basis. As surgical personnel, techs tend to be undervalued for their input, but this education has been fostering renewed and well-earned respect for ours.

William Baumann, RN, BS, CNOR
Director of Surgical Services
San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital
Banning, Calif.
[email protected]