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Carry on, team: Periop RNs progress in creating healthy work environments

Monday October 22, 2012
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Welcome to the 2012 Nurse.com Perioperative Nursing Specialty Guide. Nurse.com is proud to recognize the specialty and the unique skills nurses contribute to perioperative teams. This guide offers you a resource filled with feature stories, clinical news items, healthcare news and trends, and educational and employment opportunities that will support your professional growth and promote a healthier work environment.

In preparing its clinical practice position statement “Key Components of a Healthy Perioperative Work Environment” (accessible at AORN.org), the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses referenced the principles and standards of healthy work environments that were articulated by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses and the Nursing Organization Alliance. AORN defines nine key components of a healthy work environment that include collaborative practice culture; communication-rich culture; a culture of accountability; the presence of adequate numbers of qualified perioperative RNs; the presence of expert, credible and visible nursing leadership; shared decision-making at all levels; the encouragement of professional practice and continued growth and development; recognition of the value of nursing’s contribution; and recognition of nurses for their meaningful contribution to practice.

One healthy workplace component, “the encouragement of professional practice,” is characterized by nurses’ involvement in evidence-based practice and ongoing quality care initiatives. This concept is demonstrated in our cover story, “Preventing the big chill.” The article begins with a staff nurse reviewing PACU charts and noticing the high rates of low temperatures on postop patients. This led her to start an evidence-based research project to examine the best ways to prevent unplanned hypothermia in at-risk patients.

After changes in protocols were made and methods were instituted to warm patients preoperatively and intraoperatively, the rate of hypothermic patients presenting to the PACU decreased. In 2008, AORN recognized the challenges and negative health consequences of unplanned hypothermia, and adopted the “Recommended Practices for the Prevention of Unplanned Perioperative Hypothermia.”

Being a member of your professional nursing organization can enhance your continual professional growth and development and can contribute to a healthier work environment. Ultimately, the quality and safety of patient care improves when nurses work together to foster a healthy workplace. We hope you will enjoy this specialty guide and will consider it an educational resource and a tool to that end. •


Donna Novak, RN, is a director and nurse executive, Gannett Healthcare Group.