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April 24, 2022

The current periop nursing shortage is only a taste of things to come as a steady increase of OR nurses approach retirement and there is a need for formal OR education in nursing schools to fill the gaps.

However, in true perioperative nursing fashion, OR education experts like Michele Deck, MEd, RN, BSN, LCCE, FACC, are planning ahead and getting creative to ensure new nurses choose the perioperative path.

But we wondered how any periop nurse can get involved and connect with future nurses to inspire a love for the OR. It turns out, Deck has made it a personal mission to enlist all periop nurses in sustaining the future of our profession. “We must plant seeds for the future,” she stresses.

Her top suggestion is to go to your alma mater or local school of nursing and offer to teach a small hands-on segment of OR content in class or in a skills lab.

Once you take this courageous step, you need to make sure you connect with the mainly Gen Z and iGen students in ways they learn best. Deck offers these teaching tips to educate today’s nursing students:

Tip #1: Get Creative with Hands-On Teaching

Sociologists have identified that over 60% of the current generation of nursing students are hands-on (kinesthetic) learners—they also love technology in learning, Deck explains. One fun hands-on OR lesson she likes is using paper cut outs of people to teach about patient positioning and using a “beat the clock” activity to discriminate between correct and incorrect facts about positioning.

Tip #2: Leverage Technology to Help Students Step Into the OR

Most periop educators have a treasure trove of clinical videos they can offer to help you shape nursing student education. “Starting a lesson on patient skin antisepsis with a video showing a nurse prepping a patient for surgery gives the feel for working in the OR and gives you the chance to introduce principles of evidence-based practice to emphasize patient safety,” Deck suggests.

Tip #3: Tell Your Story

Simply sharing how you have shaped your career and what inspires you to go to work every day can be a powerful way to offer a window into periop nursing practice, Deck stresses. “Explain a personal experience with a patient or family member that helps demonstrate the important role an OR nurse plays as a patient advocate. Or recall an experience where you offered clinical expertise during surgery that shows the leadership role RNs play in perioperative care—your own experiences can provide rich points of connection to help nursing students see their own career potential in perioperative practice.”

Deck shares a variety of ways to teach nursing students about the OR in her education session as part of the Virtual AORN Expo 2022. Register for the Virtual Pass to get access to Deck’s session available now.