During this year’s Perioperative Nurses Week, the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) has suggested that nurses in this specialty focus on the value of advocacy for and by perioperative nurses.

As perioperative nurses, advocacy for patients is a guiding goal. These nurses are the patient’s voice at a time when the patients cannot voice an opinion and need a reliable and trustworthy nurse to watch out for them. With this year’s focus on advocacy, AORN has a calendar of ideas for the week with suggestions about different forms of advocacy and the actions nurses can take.

Nurses in this specialty need to advocate for themselves as nurses and as a professional group. Because they work on floors and in units every day, they know the issues that need to be worked on, those that are meeting or exceeding standards, and those that are raising red flags about patient or nurse safety. As nurses on the front lines, they are best able to speak to concerns about their individual working situation or the perioperative nursing profession and the current challenges that are most prominent.

This year as perioperative nurses think about ways to advocate for themselves, each other, or their patients, there are a few suggestions from AORN that work at any time of year and by nurses in all stages of their careers. Nurses can contact legislators to bring attention to the profession and outline ways that government agencies can help strengthen protections and working environments for nurses.

As a nurse, working within your own organization and within your own team, you can also take a look at safety protocols that need refreshing or training that needs to be reintroduced. A safe working environment and a safe surgical environment protects both nurses and patients on the immediate level and is good for an organization as a whole.

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And in a nurse’s personal and professional life, knowing and reinforcing boundaries and limits is protective. The pandemichttps://minoritynurse.com/working-in-the-er-during-the-height-of-covid-19/ is still having a huge impact in different areas of the country; even in areas with declining cases, nurses are exhausted. If you’re a nurse and feeling like you’re hitting a wall, figuring out how to care for yourself is really important, and it’s something only you can do effectively. Whether it’s meditation, boxing workouts, therapy, crying at sad movies, laughing at funny videos, medication, or regular meet ups with family and friends, taking care of yourself needs to move up to the top of your to-do list. Whatever else is on the list requires your attention, but it’s hard to be helpful when you’re wiped out.

Perioperative nurses can also bring advocacy to their communities by helping to disseminate information about the care they provide to patients and the meaningful careers they have found in perioperative nursing. Getting out and speaking with people is energizing for nurses and reassuring for past, present, and future patients. After all, at some point, almost all of us will find ourselves needing surgery and knowing about the commitment, focus, and patient advocacy that perioperative nurses follow every day at work is comforting.

As nurses celebrate this week and take action to let people know about their careers and what perioperative nurses do, they can all take pride in seeing the positive impact they have.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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