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Career Sphere

Perioperative nurses: Keeping surgical patients safe

Perioperative nurses work on the front line caring for patients undergoing operative and other invasive procedures. They collaborate with patients, families, and members of the surgical team in hospitals, day-surgery (ambulatory surgery) units, clinics, and physicians’ offices. They focus on planning, implementing, and evaluating care of the surgical patient.
In the operating room (OR), the perioperative nurse may perform various roles, including scrub nurse (selecting and handling instruments and supplies used in operations), circulating nurse (managing overall nursing care in the OR), or RN first assistant (actively assisting the surgeon). A perioperative nurse also may work as an OR director, educator, or advance practice nurse.
A specific patient safety focus is preventing wrong side/wrong site surgery. National Time Out Day (June 18) highlights the “time out” procedure of verifying the correct patient, correct procedure, and correct site.

AORN—Empowering the OR nurse
A key resource for perioperative nurses is the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN), an ANA organizational affiliate. AORN offers its more than 40,000 members networking and resource-sharing opportunities in various formats. Each year, AORN hosts its annual Congress—a 5-day conference that attracts more than 6,000 nurses and 600 exhibiting companies. Throughout the year, meetings of local membership chapters, online discussion boards, and special interest groups (termed specialty assemblies) provide additional learning and support opportunities.
AORN membership benefits include subscriptions to two monthly member newsletters, the peer-reviewed AORN Journal, and access to online practice-resource tool kits. AORN also publishes online education courses (such as Periop101: A Core Curriculum™) and the annual Perioperative Standards and Recommended Practices, which sets the standard for perioperative nursing practice. For more information, visit www.aorn.org.


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