through the entire patient experience, Harris says. Its components are primarily based on the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses’ (AORN) “Periop 101: A Core Curriculum,” an online education program based on AORN’s Guidelines for Perioperative Practice. “While that is geared more toward the hospital, we use what applies to ASCs and adjust the content accordingly to meet our specific needs,” she adds. Zimdahl says her ASC also relies on

ASCs Training Perioperative RNs

Dearth of trained nurses has inspired surgery centers to develop their own programs BY ROBERT KURTZ

D eclining numbers of available operating room (OR) nurses have

led some ASCs to develop their own perioperative RN training programs. Examples of those programs can be found in Florida Medical Clinic’s two ASCs in Tampa, Florida, and Zephyrhills, Florida, and in the Ambulatory Sur- gery Center of Niagara in Niagara Falls, New York. “We provide this training because

we feel it is part of our promise to our patients in creating a culture of safety,” says Dorothy Zimdahl, RN, CASC, administrator/director of the Ambula- tory Surgery Center of Niagara. “You are making sure your staff knows what to do to protect your patients and guar- antee that when they come to an ASC, they get an RN who understands the ASC’s culture of safety.” The shortage of trained RNs stems from three main factors, says Jan Alli- son, RN, senior director regulatory,

clinical services for ASC management company Amsurg, based in Nashville, Tennessee. “What has happened over the years is that ASCs grew, the popu- lation of trained operating room (OR) nurses aged and increasing the number of OR nurses became difficult since the OR requires a specific set of additional skills and knowledge beyond what the nursing school provides.” Sandra F. Harris, RN, director of

Florida Medical Clinic’s two ASCs, says, “It seems like OR nurses are turning into dinosaurs. They are very hard to come by, especially in rural areas like our Zephyrhills location. But even in Tampa, which is in a bustling area, it is difficult to attract experienced OR nurses.”

Program Components The perioperative RN training program provided at Florida Medical Clinic’s ASCs takes RNs without perioperative experience and new nurse graduates

other AORN resources. “Over the last several years, AORN started creating programs focused on training staff in the ASC, and they have been quite helpful.” Nurses who are selected to go through the Florida Medical Clinic ASCs’ program do not start their train- ing in the OR, Harris notes. “Everyone needs to know how to process a patient,” she says. “They spend time working at check-in to see how nervous patients are about their surgical experience from the very beginning. Our nurses learn about the various paperwork that needs to be completed before moving onto the preoperative area.” Similarly, at Ambulatory Sur-

gery Center of Niagara, RNs start their training in pre-admission ser- vices. “They learn how we select our patients, assess patients over the telephone and determine whether a patient is a proper candidate for a procedure here,” Zimdahl says. Harris says her ASCs’ nurses also spend time in the decontamination and sterile processing room. “They have to know how to clean instru- mentation before they can go into the OR,” she says. Following completion of their time in sterile processing, nurses receive education directly from Harris. “We go over many areas, including OR attire, log books, inventory management and storage, and how to clean a room,” she says. “Our


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