Perioperative Nurses and a Commitment to Advocacy

Perioperative Nurses and a Commitment to Advocacy

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.

And in a nurse’s personal and professional life, knowing and reinforcing boundaries and limits is protective. The pandemic 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.

Periop Nurses Help Create a Safe Surgery

Periop Nurses Help Create a Safe Surgery

Perioperative nurses are an essential part of any surgical team. This week’s Perioperative Nurses Week spreads awareness of this career path while also educating the public about this vital operating room role.

Nurses in this role fill a pre-op and post-op need while also remaining with the patient during a procedure. According to the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN), they are the eyes and ears for the patient while a procedure is going on, but they are also helping prepare the patients emotionally and physically beforehand and helping them during the immediate recovery. They impart a sense of calm and caring while using precise nursing skills to constantly assess what’s happening with the patient.

In this role, nurses simultaneously gather vital patient health information, communicate effectively with the patient and the patient’s loved ones, and continually monitor the patient during all stages of pre-to-post op for a smooth and safe surgery. Periop nurses may do many tasks at once, but their focus on the patient must remain absolutely unwavering.

Because they are charged with monitoring the patient as they are going though surgery, periop nurses have to have a keen ability to know when something has changed. They remain alert for fluctuations in heart rate or blood pressure that will appear on the monitors. But they also must watch the patient to notice any signs of distress or change that monitors may not pick up like a subtle change in the patient’s breathing pattern or skin tone or muscle activity.

Periop nurses are the advocate for the patient at a time when they are most vulnerable and unable to advocate for themselves. An acute sense of perception and a dedication to patient care and advocacy are hallmarks of nurses in this role. Nurses who are with patients throughout a surgical procedure must also have excellent critical thinking skills and have the confidence in their professional skills to act immediately and not second guess what they are noticing.

If you’re a nursing student and thinking of this as a career, you’ll need varied hands-on nursing experience so you can develop your skills. Taking swift, decisive, and accurate action is part of the job and something the medical team and the patient depend on. If you think this career path matches your goals, you can begin building your nursing skills with this as a focus.

Aside from exacting medical skills, periop nurses also have a special ability to connect with people so they are able to help them through any anxiety about what’s happening. They have an innate sense topics that people want to talk about and that will help both soothe their nerves while also giving valuable information about who they are and what their lives are like.

This might seem like chit-chat, but it helps the nurse in a couple of ways. The answers to questions can give the nurse a few things to talk about as the patient is coming out of anesthesia and needs something familiar to grasp in conversation. A patient who told a story about a spouse or a pet will likely be happy to do that again in post-op.

Answers to other questions might also offer insight for the nurse as treatment plans are being figured out. Maybe a patient is concerned about getting medication or doesn’t understand some previous instructions. Periop nurses know how to get important information from patients that will help them recover faster and improve their outcomes.

Periop nurses have a valuable skill set that balances professional excellence with unsurpassed interpersonal communication. If you have periop nurses on your team, celebrate all they do this week. And if you’re a periop nurse, notice how your hard work makes a patient feel more relaxed while you know you are offering excellent care.