1. Wollan, Mary K. RN, BAN, ONC

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Recently, I found myself retiring a year or so earlier than I had intended. My hospital underwent some restructuring, and I was lucky enough that retirement was a viable option for me. For me it was a relatively easy decision. When people asked me what I was going to do with my time, I had the usual responses about all the things I have been saving for when I retired, including spending more time with family, hobbies, and, of course, organizing my closets. In addition, I was happy to be able to say, "I'm going to be president of NAON." I have also been exploring the options for volunteering with one of the orthopaedic groups that goes out to underdeveloped areas, which is something I always wanted to do while working but could not find the time to do.

Figure. Mary K. Woll... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. Mary K. Wollan, RN, BAN, ONC, NAON President, 2008-2009

It was not until I was having lunch a few weeks ago with a colleague from the hospital who is now in a similar situation that I realized how fortunate I really am. While she has the same lists of activities to do once she is done working, she expressed her fear of leaving nursing and of losing her connection to nursing. Her comment to me was how lucky I was to have NAON. She was envious of my involvement in NAON, both at my local chapter level and my role as president. Despite being retired, I still have an identity as an orthopaedic nurse.


It is not just retirement that can have this feeling of loss of identity. We continue to see dedicated orthopaedic units closing, with our patients incorporated into general units. As a result, you may be one of only a few with orthopaedic expertise on your unit. Smaller work units, such as office practices and ambulatory surgery centers, can result in more isolated work environments, with limited interactions with fellow orthopaedic nurses. Working in these situations makes it more difficult to feel connected to the specialty of orthopaedics. It can also be an issue for those in more rural areas, where fewer resources are available for ongoing specialty education and information sharing.


The NAON membership, whether as a chapter member or as a member at large, affords access to numerous methods to stay connected. Chapter meetings and educational offerings provide ongoing education specific to our specialty. Chapter membership gives you the benefit of meeting and working with other local nurses to use as resources or support for issues that are common in your area. There are also the numerous NAON list serves (trauma, total joint, patient education, etc) and the NAON online forums, which are available to all members to post questions or comments on. If you have never used one of these, please check out the Web site to see how to access them. I am always impressed with quality of the questions and responses that come through. Having trouble getting enough CEs? Our Orthopaedic Nursing Journal has CE offerings in each issue, enabling members to attain the credits necessary for licensure and certification.


Regardless of where you are in your career or where you work, NAON has something to offer. I encourage you to take advantage of NAON's many resources, helping you stay connected to others who share your interest in orthopaedic nursing.