1. Section Editor(s): Thompson, Elizabeth M. MSN, RN, CNOR

Article Content

As I contemplate this year's Perioperative Nurse Week from November 9 to 15, I reflect on what an honor and privilege it is to support new perioperative nurses beginning their practice in our institution. Because perioperative nursing is rarely part of the curriculum in nursing programs, the nurse beginning his or her practice in surgery requires a whole new skill set and knowledge base.

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The new perioperative nurse

New perioperative nurses are faced with developing a practice in which they most likely have little or no prior experience. They are challenged with learning and demonstrating the knowledge, skills, and attitude to begin a career in the perioperative setting. AORN's Periop 101 curriculum offers 25 educational modules and 40 contact hours to prepare the new perioperative nurse for the surgical environment.1 Clinical orientation in the OR lasts approximately 6 months. The amount of didactic education and clinical experience required for orientation speaks to the complexity of the perioperative nursing role.


Learning OR culture

In the midst of learning the perioperative nursing role, equipment and troubleshooting techniques, policies and procedures, computer applications, technology, and providing a safe environment for staff and patients, new perioperative nurses are challenged with learning the culture of the OR. Culture can be defined as behavior within a group. The new perioperative nurse learns the culture of the OR mainly through observation. This makes it even more important to ensure the new perioperative nurse has a preceptor who models good behavior and has a solid understanding of perioperative nursing practice to advocate safe patient care.


Working within a team, conflict resolution, and professionalism are all characteristics and skills needed to work in the OR. The new perioperative nurse must build trust within the team as perioperative nurses are immersed in the team culture. It truly is a synergistic relationship with each individual of the team and the team as a whole. Each member supports each other with mutual, situational awareness and clear communication to optimize patient care.


Thank you

It is rewarding to see new nurses totally unfamiliar with the perioperative environment, anxious and unfamiliar with the perioperative role transform into confident, competent perioperative nurses. So, in the spirit of Perioperative Nurse Week, I want to recognize all of you for your unique contributions to patient care, commitment to patient safety, and for sharing your expertise with the next generation of nurses. A warm salute to perioperative nurses everywhere!


Elizabeth M. Thompson, MSN, RN, CNOR

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Editor-in-Chief Nursing Education Specialist Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. ORNURSE@WOLTERSKLUWER.COM




Association of periOperative Registered Nurses. Learning modules. 2014. [Context Link]