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5 Clinical and Leadership Skills to Build in 2018


With the rapid pace of technologies being adopted in the OR and the wealth of new evidence reshaping perioperative practices, nurses can’t afford to fall behind.

However, it takes the right mix of clinical and leadership skills to be competent in the latest clinical practices and be able to apply that clinical excellence in a team setting, explains AORN CEO and Executive Director Linda Groah, MSN, RN, CNOR, NEA-BC, FAAN.

“The pride a professional registered nurse feels when fully prepared to provide the safest patient care possible is immeasurable,” Groah says.

She says today’s successful perioperative nurses have a clear need, as well as a moral responsibility, to strategic lifelong learning that will keep them relevant for their patients, their colleagues and the profession.

As nurses look to the clinical and leadership skills they need to build in 2018, Groah shares five patient safety topics with relevant and timely application for the perioperative setting:

  • Infection Prevention – such as applying the latest evidence in preventing surgical site infection and ensuring safe practices for each step in instrument processing.
  • Team Communication – to consider evidence-based approaches for communication throughout a patient’s continuum of surgical care, such as briefings, surgical pauses, and hand-overs; and team communication training approaches such as simulation.
  • Medication Safety – to address evidence-based approaches that protect patients and personnel such as safe injection practices, safe disposal of hazardous waste, and safe approaches to protect patients from medication errors.
  • Product Evaluation – to provide valuable input from the perioperative perspective regarding products used in care delivery and to also understand the value of the products including quality outcomes and costs.
  • Patient Experience – to consider evidence-based approaches to prevent adverse events such as venous thromboembolism and to consider the best approaches for value-based patient care.

Groah acknowledges that finding time for building these various nursing skills becomes the challenge, however, attending one conference for multiple education needs can be the solution.

Learning at AORN’s 2018 Annual Conference
For perioperative nurses able to attend AORN’s 2018 Global Surgical Conference & Expo in New Orleans, March 24-27, planning ahead can be valuable to schedule time for education sessions that will cover these and other hot topics, such as designing patient experience, preventing peri-prosthetic infections, understanding the basics of forensic investigation that apply to the OR setting, and new strategies for laser safety compliance.

For those nurses taking on more business and administrative work, AORN’s Executive Leadership Summit held during the conference on March 25-27 will address many of these needed educational areas for both experienced and novice leaders. For example, topics to be addressed at the summit include predictive analytics, change strategies, disruptive innovation and team competence.

Attendees who visit the conference and expo will find opportunities to learn about emerging OR technologies and network with product representatives to better understand products that may soon be coming to their ORs for evaluation and use. On the exhibit floor, opportunities for simulation education will support nurses in building clinical skills including fire evacuation, positioning and emergency preparedness.

Making Connections
For Groah, sharing knowledge is just as important as gaining knowledge. That’s why she encourages conference attendees to take time to expand their network of colleagues to learn about and share best practices and other safety trends.

“Take time to explore research posters to seek out solutions to challenges you face and gain perspectives on care strategies from nurses practicing in different practice settings,” Groah says.

To support global collaboration among perioperative nursing, AORN’s annual meeting will include a Global Summit with speakers from Europe, Australia, North America and Asia speaking together in a series of panel discussions. These panel speakers will address several topics, including implementing and sustaining enhanced recovery after surgery [ERAS] programs, managing drug abuse in health care workers, operating room design, patient safety, preparing the patient for surgery and comparing policies on managing incivility.

Groah also encourages attendees to take the knowledge gained at the conference back to their practice settings to support colleagues in providing perioperative patients with the best care experiences possible.

Nurses unable to attend the conference can build their skills with new education and evidence-based practices AORN is sharing in 2018. Here are a few to take advantage of:

  • 2018 edition of Guidelines for Perioperative Practice with implementation resources
  • Nurse Executive Leadership Seminars
  • Certification support with AORN’s Prep for CNOR Live

“When we take the Nightingale pledge to ‘maintain and elevate the standard of my profession,’ a critical part of keeping this oath is making sure we are competent in all areas that may impact our patients’ care,” Groah explains.

To explore the education schedule and learn about other opportunities that can serve to expand clinical and leadership skills at AORN’s 2018 Global Surgical Conference & Expo, visit



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