Lee Anne Blackwell, RN, BSN, EMBA, CNOR, is group director of clinical services at Birmingham, Ala.-based Surgical Care Affiliates (SCA). She supports clinical best practices and quality-survey readiness (accreditation and regulatory surveys) for Team UP, a region of approximately 30 of the nearly 150 SCA surgery centers at press time. Her focus is in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.
SurgiStrategies caught up with the 30-year nursing veteran to get her thoughts on the 59th Annual Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) Congress, held the last week of March in New Orleans.
Q. What did you think of the AORN show this year?
Robust networking of perioperative registered nurse professionals was well-established. The enhancement of using the Internet to provide resources, communication and real-time networking – especially in the sessions – was an added value to the overall conference success.
Q. What types of professionals did you see at the SCA booth during the show?
Periop RNs, student nurses, company vendors, AORN colleagues, employment colleagues
Q. I noticed you had an old-school Hasbro "Operation" game at the SCA booth. How did that go over with the medical crowd?
The forceps were needing replacement – did not work very well ... or that was the excuse. The Operation game was an attraction to many, young and old! We challenged them to be able to receive a second draw for our iPad giveaway if they could remove three vital organs within 15 seconds without sounding the alarm. Many did … others did not make it. But they all laughed. A funny story: One seasoned periop nurse was in position and when I shouted, “On your mark, get set," I did not get “go" out of my mouth when she had already hit the metal rim with the forceps, causing the alarm to sound! All I said was, “Really, Mary? Really? I barely got you out of the gate with 'Go!'" We all laughed.
Q. What do you see as some of the main issues impacting ASC nursing professionals in 2012?
Industry shortages of skilled nurses, sometimes challenges with patients with higher acuity and not enough history.
Q. How have things changed from when you first started three decades ago?
They've moved from general surgical care – where you did it all – to highly specialized with new technologies, even complex ones like the da Vinci robot.
Q. Clinical education was a big part of AORN. What are some of SCA's continuing education efforts?
Developing and providing clinical education training with self-study modules, formal conferences, meetings and through our Clinical Excellence Universe (CEU) that we had on display at our booth.