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Chamberlain University, which has the largest nursing school in the U.S., and the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN), creators of evidence-based guidelines and education resources for perioperative practice, are announcing a new educational partnership to help address the critical shortage of operating room nurses across the nation.

Starting in early 2022, Chamberlain and AORN will launch a 16-week online training module in perioperative nursing designed to address industry needs and prepare students to acquire an educational badge in the specialty. This is the first educational initiative of its kind being offered in partnership with AORN, which developed the training module, and the intent is to scale the badge program through Chamberlain’s national reach.

The badge specialty program will be available exclusively through Chamberlain. It is designed to be aligned with perioperative industry-specific competencies defined by AORN, and it is being offered at no additional cost as a non-credit bearing option to students enrolled in the bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program. The initiative aligns with the university’s ongoing commitment, and that of its Chicago-based parent company Adtalem Global Education, to address critical workforce needs in the health care industry.

The program, which is designed to be taken concurrently with Chamberlain’s BSN program, leads to a badge upon successful completion and assessment of competencies. Those who earn the badge will be eligible to be considered for a concentrated clinical rotation in the perioperative areas of participating health systems. Chamberlain will begin offering the badge program to students pursuing their BSN degree at campuses in Chicago, Tinley Park, Addison, Atlanta and New Orleans, with the intent to expand nationally across all 23 of its campuses.

“Chamberlain is a leading workforce solutions provider, and we are confident that this partnership with AORN will assist in providing solutions to the challenges facing healthcare systems across the nation,” said Karen Cox, Ph.D., RN, FACHE, FAAN, and president of Chamberlain University. “There is a need to increase awareness of perioperative nursing opportunities because, until now, undergraduate nursing studies provide limited exposure to the specialty. With this program, Chamberlain will graduate nurses who are both interested in and prepared to pursue additional specialty training for the perioperative setting.”

The badge program is designed to create a pipeline of perioperative nurses, also referred to as operating room nurses or surgical nurses, who work with surgical patients in the pre- and intra-operative process and through recovery in post-anesthesia care units. A 2021 research paper, “The State of the Perioperative Nursing Specialty Workforce,” outlines how academic partnerships with hospital facilities can address recruitment and retention challenges as well as be cost-effective. It can cost up to $120,000 to train and prepare a new perioperative nurse[1], according to the research paper.

“Hospitals and ambulatory centers are significantly challenged to recruit nurses with the necessary qualifications to work in the perioperative setting,” said AORN’s CEO/Executive Director, Linda Groah, MSN, RN, CNOR, NEA-BC, FAAN. “This is due, in part, to limited perioperative education in nursing schools and nursing students not being exposed to the many career opportunities that can be realized in the surgical suite. We are very grateful to Chamberlain for being part of the solution.”

The need for perioperative room nurses is expected to grow due to the growth to increased volume of surgeries and a nationwide shortage of qualified nurses, according to AORN. Contributing to that shortage is that 20% of operating room nurses are expected to reach retirement age within the next five years, according to data collected by AORN[2].

To address this challenge, Chamberlain will increase awareness among students of the specialty and actively engage with students to encourage those who are strong candidates to consider the perioperative specialty.

[1]Root, S., 2015. 4 Strategies for Building the Perioperative Workplace of the Future: Industry Perspective. Healthstream, Nashville

[2]Ball, K.; Doyle, D.; & Oocumma, N.I., 2015. Nursing Shortages in the OR: Solutions for New Models of Education. AORN Journal,101:1:115-135.



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