From the Editor

NIFA Graduate Donna Howerton has built a successful practice as an independent CRNFA for the past 10 years. She is our featured “Spotlight” profile below and has kindly distilled her experience into 8 Tips for Establishing Your RN First Assistant Practice. Thanks, Donna!

And read on – there’s good news this month for anyone who has been thinking about enrolling for the new RNFA 2.0 program.

Julie LancasterDo you have a surgical story or article you’d like us to consider for the e-News? Please send your ideas to me at [email protected].
Julie Lancaster, Editor

Graduate Spotlight

Name:  Donna Howerton
City & State:  Galesburg, IL
Credentials: RN, BSN, CNOR, CRNFA
Current Job:  Independent CRNFA (for 10 years)
Quote:  Even though half of the cases I do are Medicare or Public Aid (which non-NP RNFAs don’t get paid on but PAs do – grrrrrr!), and some of my cases are denied because a First Assistant is considered “not medically necessary,” I still receive more money than I did as a full-time OR staff nurse, and that’s including call pay . . . The best part is I usually am done by noon or 1:00 p.m. I’m not involved in the “politics” of the OR; I do my job and I leave. The doctors are happy and I am happy. I am finally doing the job I love and am so happy that I “stepped out of the boat” on faith and prayer to make this change.

Click here to read more about Donna’s personal journey to becoming a successful CRNFA.

RNFA Tips: 8 Tips for Establishing Your RNFA Practice

By NIFA Graduate Donna Howerton, RN, BSN, CNOR, CRNFA

1.    Contact a surgeon that you know well or that you would like to work with and ask them if they are willing to take you on. If you don’t feel that you can afford to be an independent practitioner, see if they will hire you (work out an agreeable hourly wage) and bill insurance for your services (or, NIFA Medical Billing can bill for your services). At the end of the year, they can subtract your wages from what they received for your billed services and you can agree on splitting the difference. That way you have a bonus at the end of the year and get paid for having you as an employee.

2.    Get business cards in a bright color so they can find your information easily among all the other business cards they carry.

3.    Have your business card put on a magnet so that it can be attached to a filing cabinet in their office. Make your information easy to find.

4.    Let them know that you book your cases on a first-come, first-served basis if you are independent. That way, they will be eager to book you up first.

5.     Make sure that their office has a brochure about what a First Assistant is and does (you can obtain them from AORN) and that it includes your vital statistics: schooling, years in the OR, degrees, credentials, etc.

6.    Make friends with the doctor’s billing office staff. They will be the ones doing the extra work to get you the insurance and billing information that you will need to bill for the cases. An occasional small gift is a nice way to thank someone.

7.     Offer any help you can to the OR staff and let them know that you are a willing participant in the team effort for your cases. (Also, bringing donuts once in a while doesn’t hurt.)

8.     Get CEUs in seminars that will help your surgeon’s practice. For example, one of my Orthopedic Surgeons was always complaining about the mallet handle being slippery and he worried that he could possibly hurt himself if it slipped out of his hand. I once went to NAON’s Congress and in one of the seminars a nurse was talking about how they wrapped Coban around the handle of their mallets so that it wouldn’t slip in the surgeon’s hands. I took that little tidbit back to my surgeon and he loved it! To this day, he never picks up a mallet unless the handle is wrapped with Coban!

Show Special Extended!

The NIFA booth was hopping at the 56th Annual AORN Congress last month in Chicago! Shown here: RNFA Program Manager Jeremy Gofton with current RNFA student Cynthia Graham.

There was overwhelming interest in NIFA’s new RNFA Program 2.0, with the three day SutureStarXpress workshop held in multiple cities. We have received requests from so many of you for more time to arrange time off from work and to see if your employer will fund your RNFA training, that the special AORN Congress Tuition rate – which allows you to enroll in the entire program for only $2545 – has been extended through April 30, 2009! Call 1-800-922-7747, ext. 1, or email us at [email protected].

Already an RNFA student or graduate? Then please pass this news on to friends who might be interested. Thanks!