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Lifelong Learning in the OR Setting

By Jim Stobinski

Perioperative Nurse Leaders, a group of which I am a member, is a mature cohort with long careers in the OR. As our careers wind down, we must confirm that future perioperative nurse leaders have the education and training to carry out their complex duties. While working on this article I came across two other articles that gave me pause.

I will confess that I am a news junkie with a preference for current events, business and finance topics. I recently came across two articles in Forbes, a business news and financial information magazine. The first article, “Bono and Thomas Friedman Reveal Three Skills American Workers Need Today,” related the thoughts of Bono (a rock musician and entrepreneur) and the author Thomas Friedman on the changing nature of workplace skills. The second article, written by Gary Burnison, spoke to burnout in the workplace and how to deal with that unfortunate occurrence.

Burnout is a legitimate concern for nurse leaders in the high stress OR work setting. It struck me that there was pertinent information for perioperative nurse leaders in each article and both complemented my thoughts well.

Baldelomar, writing about the views of Bono and Friedman, speaks to the accelerating pace of change in the business world and the need for workers to adjust and stay current with that pace. She stressed that the education which brought you into the profession, even combined with years of productive experience, may not keep your skill set from becoming obsolete. Bono and Friedman spoke to the need for lifelong learning and for enhancing soft skills like collaboration, communication and relationship building. The pace of change in the OR is rapid and as technology advances and payment mechanisms change we must develop new skills sets. We must also impress on aspiring perioperative nurse leaders this need for lifelong learning and the importance of these new soft skills, some of which were not common place for us in our careers.

Burnison, in the second article on workplace burnout, states that one way to combat burnout is to find the passion and purpose in your work. I believe one way to re-energize your work performance is to learn new skills. Learning new things and developing skills as part of lifelong learning gives a fresh perspective on your work; a new lens on the work setting. In example, honing communication skills may allow you to see the perspective of other stakeholders in the OR such as the surgeons and anesthesia providers.

Baldelomar stresses that by, “ … embracing these three traits, you will be equipped to help lead your company into the future.” I maintain that you could also utilize these strategies to prevent obsolescence in your current work and to maintain your engagement. Your life circumstances may not grant unlimited choices and opportunities but there are things which are within our control.

Among the things we can control is how we choose to respond to how the work of surgery and nursing is evolving.

The Competency and Credentialing Institute, my employer of the last six years, is acutely aware of the pace of change in the operating room. That knowledge provided us with the impetus to develop the CSSM (Certified Surgical Services Manager) certification for perioperative nurse leaders. This credential, for which CCI recently received accreditation, endeavors to facilitate the ongoing professional development of these nurse certificants through an innovative recertification mechanism. Through the required learning activities in that recertification process we hope to partner with perioperative nurse leaders to help them stay current in this challenging profession. Our ongoing work with OR Today Live, and our other partners, is another way in which we strive to be attuned to your learning needs. We look forward to future work with perioperative nurses as we support lifelong learning through webinars, articles and continuing education activities.


Baldelomar, R. (Oct. 22, 2017). Bono and Thomas Friedman Reveal Three Skills American Workers Need Today. Forbes. Retrieved from:
Burnison, G. (Oct 22, 2017). Four Symptoms That You’re Stuck In Your Career: The Real Reasons You’re Staying Put in Your Job. Forbes. Retrieved from:



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