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Last month, AORN’s staff gathered at its Denver headquarters for an organizational enterprise meeting. We caught up with colleagues outside of our screens and met others for the first time in person. It was an energizing and productive time.
One of the highlights — aside from surprisingly intense games of ping pong, Pop-A-Shot and duck pin bowling during a company outing — involved nurses calling in from the front lines to share their experiences with the group. A couple nurses who had been on the job for a matter of months said they were training new hires. Imagine being a grizzled veteran of several weeks and teaching a nurse who is just as green as the scrubs you’re both wearing. It was shocking to hear, but perhaps it shouldn’t have been.
The nursing profession is at an inflection point, with national staffing shortages and bedside burnout making it difficult for some surgical facilities to field a complete team. The issue is complicated and layered, and can’t be solved overnight. Smart and creative facility leaders are squeezing budgets to increase the pay and benefits for their loyal workers, but that has the feel of an expensive short-term Band-Aid.
What’s needed is a sustainable solution that will fill the candidate pool with new nurses. Megan Muñoz, who appears on the cover, is part of those efforts. She’s about to graduate from Chamberlain University in Chicagoland, where she completed a specialized program created in partnership with AORN to expose nursing students to the perks of perioperative work.
Megan got a taste of the teamwork and fellowship that are trademarks of life in the OR, just like you once did. Her excitement over the possibility of working in the OR jumps off the pages in this month’s cover story.
Middle schoolers in Delaware have also been exposed to the wonders of nursing through Brandywine Lifesavers, an innovative initiative launched by several school nurses to give students from underrepresented communities the opportunity to receive classroom and hands-on instruction on basic nursing skills. The amazing and inspiring program is detailed on page 10.
Richele Lawson, one of the school nurses who launched Brandywine Lifesavers, saw much of herself in the students at their age. She wants someone to believe in them, perhaps in ways no one believed in her. Ms. Lawson cares for more than 900 students at her school, but still found time to give back to the profession she loves by inspiring the next generation of caregivers. One of the students wants to be a nurse to “fix the hurt in the world.”
This issue ends with a last word from Paula Watkins, our long-time backpage columnist and longer-time traveling surgical nurse. She’s seen it all over the course of her career and wants nurses to care for each other like they do their patients, to lift their colleagues up during difficult times.
There are no better nurses than those who work in surgery. Their passion is unrivaled, their commitment to safe patient care and surgical excellence unmatched. Megan and so many others like her offer hope for filling facilities with surgical professionals who, like you, have fallen in love with surgery and answered its calling.
Remember how you felt fresh out of nursing school and the first time you served on a surgical team. Channel those feelings to shepherd new nurses along their freshly chosen path. They’re looking to you for inspiration and instruction as they begin to find their way. They deserve a chance to turn their passion into a deep love for the profession and go on to pay it forward to those who come next. OSM