April 2019 • Volume 12, No. 4

From the Editor
Although we can’t exactly pour the bubbly and pass out party hats to you over the Internet, we want to share with you a little of the excitement we’re feeling over NIFA’s latest accomplishment…

Our Nurse in Surgery Essentials (NISE™) Course, launched in 2017, has received national accreditation through the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification (ABSNC).

Why did the NISE™ course pursue national accreditation? Because this course has a profound mission: to raise the bar for perioperative nurse training in this country by incorporating multi-modal assessment methods to meet the rigorous standards of national accreditation. NISE™ is now the only accredited Certificate of Mastery Course for training novice circulators in the U.S. In this issue we check in with Kimberly Jones, MSN-Ed, RN, CNOR, RNFA, one of the content developers and the principal administrator of the course, to find out how the course is going.

Our Student in the Spotlight is Nicole Yurchak, RN, of Erie, PA.

Scroll down to find jobs we’ve collected for you, along with NIFA’s favorite links.


Julie Lancaster, Editor


NISE™ Course Receives Accreditation!

In February, NIFA’s NISE™ (Nurse in Surgery Essentials) course received accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification (ABSNC).

“This is a major accomplishment for this type of course,” says Kimberly Jones, MSN-Ed, RN, CNOR, RNFA, co-developer and primary administrator of the program.

NIFA developed the course in answer to the looming OR nursing shortage in the U.S. With fewer nurses available, healthcare facilities are looking to newly graduated nurses to fill even specialized positions, such as the OR circulator. That’s in contrast to the traditional approach, in which a new nurse would work as a floor nurse for a year to get a base of experience before entering a specialized area. Helping new nurses come up to speed can put a heavy training burden on a facility’s staff.

That’s why NIFA markets the NISE™  program to hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers rather than directly to RNs. Using a curriculum developed in partnership with CCI® (the Competency & Credentialing Institute), along with personalized support and progress assessment, the program helps new nurses—and any nurse new to the OR—make a smooth transition to the perioperative setting.

Unlike any other course for novice OR circulators, the NISE™ course materials are based on the recent Job Analysis findings for the CNOR® credential, administered by the CCI®. The Job Analysis process allowed for input from a nationwide, representative group of CNORs® and was conducted within the guidelines of professionally sound practice, using a multi-method, scientifically rigorous approach to identify the tasks and knowledge that are important to the competent performance of qualified perioperative nurses.*

ABSNC accreditation is the same peer-review process through which such programs as ONC® (Orthopedic Nurses Certification), CEN® (Certified Emergency Nurse), and CCI®’s CNOR® (Certified Nurse OR) are accredited. The process of obtaining accreditation can help course developers ensure that a course meets the highest relevant standards, while accreditation itself helps strengthen community confidence in a course’s quality and impact on patient outcomes.

To gain accreditation, NIFA had to meet many standards and sub-standards, do extensive record-keeping and documentation, and provide many samples from the course—all while operating the course and interacting with current students and preceptors. All course material was peer reviewed by ABSNC.

“For those nurses in the NISE™ course, we are helping prepare them for the future steps of reaching CNOR® certification,” Kimberly says. “When the student receives a certificate of completion from the NISE course, it shows their investment in education and in the care and safety of their patients. Obtaining a certificate of completion from an accredited program is huge all around for both the nurses and the facilities.”

Participation in NISE™ has grown steadily over the months and now includes hospitals and surgical clinics in many states from coast to coast. Each facility buys the number of seats they need, ranging from one to 30+. Unlike other courses, each license purchased is valid for a period of four years, and within that period, the learner has eight months to complete the course.

Administrators at NIFA work with facility administrators, preceptors and learners. Some facility administrators choose a deep level of involvement with the learners; others review a simple weekly report on student participation. A key part of the training is for students to learn the specific policies and procedures of the facility where they work; in addition, they validate competencies with their preceptor.

“I thought this course did an excellent job of providing various ways of getting the information to the learner,” wrote an RN from an East Coast surgery center. “It provided information in the form of PowerPoints, reading assignments, videos, and competency forms.”

In addition to varied teaching approaches, the program uses various assessment methods, from traditional quizzes and clinical competency tasks to be done in the presence of the facility’s preceptor to reflective journaling and BARS (Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales), in which learners upload a video of themselves completing a series of predetermined tasks for the NISE™ course administrator’s review.

“As a medical surgical nurse, transitioning to the operating room has been a big career change,” wrote an RN from a hospital in the Midwest. “This class has helped introduce me to the operating room and the skills needed to be a circulating nurse. It has been a beneficial supplemental learning tool in addition to my on-the-job-training with my preceptor.”

Continuing to Raise the Bar
NIFA continues to look for ways to keep the course current while meeting student and facility needs as well as meet national standards. Kimberly says,” All feedback received from students, preceptors or facilities is evaluated by the education team during quarterly meetings or as needed. Education is a continual learning process for both the students and educators; it has to keep moving. It can’t be static.”

* CCI® neither sponsors nor endorses training or educational opportunities in specialized practice areas or preparatory courses for any of the CCI® examinations. CNOR® is a registered trademark of the Competency and Credentialing Institute (CCI®). All rights reserved. CCI® administers the CNOR® exam.

Student Spotlight: Nicole Yurchak


Student Status
Student in NIFA’s RNFA program

City & State
Erie, PA

Current Position  
RN circulator / scrub nurse.

Where did you get your RN degree?
Mercyhurst University, Erie, PA, and currently completing my BSN.

How did you come to choose perioperative nursing?
I started working in the OR as Surgical Technologist, seven years ago. I was fortunate to work with surgeons and RNFAs who were very skilled and knowledgeable. I knew early in my career that being an RNFA was my destiny so I continued on to nursing school.  I aspire to develop all the didactics of surgery and helping patients through the perioperative process!

What is the weirdest moment you’ve ever seen at the table?
We were doing an exploratory laparotomy with fragile bowel. Enterotomies were a continuous occurrence. With each enterotomy, peas were exploding out of the bowel into the wound and on the surgical field. The surgeon stopped mid- procedure and yelled, “Who keeps feeding this patient peas?!”  It was not something you usually hear in surgery. The weird part is, you just never know what you are going to find in a bowel!

What is one technique or RNFA trick you’ve learned from NIFA that you will use for life?  
One of the many tricks I learned from NIFA that I will use frequently is the slip knot technique for pushing knots under tension.

How do you feel having your RNFA will impact your life/career?
I feel it will take my skills to the next level, making me a stronger, smarter nurse. It will allow me to gain new experiences and the opportunity to help patients receive the best care possible.

Photo: Nicole Yurchak with SutureStar workshop instructors John Russell and Dean Parsons.

Jobs Front

Click here for the RNFA job postings we’ve collected for you this month.


NIFA – Office Hours

Monday-Thursday, 8:00am – 4:00pm
Friday, 8:00am – 3:00pm

Practice Resources

Here are several of the most-in-demand sites for our students, prospective students and grads:
MD Edge Surgery News: Specialty News and Commentaries, Videos and More
RNFA Scope of Practice by State (PDF)
ACS List of Cases that Require an Assistant at Surgery, 2018 (PDF)
Perioperative Nurse Links (state nursing boards & professional associations)
APRN Nurse Links

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this newsletter are strictly those of their respective authors and do not necessarily represent the views of NIFA. NIFA does not give any express or implied warranty as to the accuracy of statements made by our contributors and does not accept any liability for error or omission. It is the responsibility of all perioperative personnel to work within and adhere to their facility bylaws and individual scope of practice.

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