August 2018 • Volume 11, No. 8

From the Editor

August is back-to-school month and spinal muscle atrophy awareness (SMA) month.

Coincidence? We think not.

Although many cases of SMA are diagnosed in infancy, back-to-school season is often the time when children get physical exams, and issues like SMA are identified. Read on for information about SMA as well as some more general spine surgery news and videos.

Our Surgi-Quiz crossword puzzle will help you sharpen your skills while having fun!

We have some NIFA news this month as well. And we’re featuring two NIFA-related folks in the spotlight: Director of Student Support Nancy Foust’s daughter, Allyson Foust, Horsewoman Extraordinaire, and relatively new NIFA employee, Cameron Kalkman, Admissions Support.

Finally, scroll down for the list of jobs we’ve assembled for you, and NIFA’s favorite links.



Julie Lancaster, Editor

Challenge Your Perioperative IQ with This Month’s SurgiQuiz!

Click for Answer Key to Anesthesia puzzle


Spinal Muscle Atrophy (SMA)

SMA represents a breakdown of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord and corresponding difficulty in the brain’s communication with the muscles. Here’s a detailed explanation of the condition on Medscape (requires registration, but it’s free) and a more general overview on WebMD.

Check out for suggested ways to spread awareness of SMA.

Surgical News

3-D Printing for Spinal Cord Repair

University of Minnesota has developed a process through which stem cells can be 3-D printed and implanted into spinal cords to repair nerve damage. 3-D printed tissues have been developed for other organs, but until now the process hasn’t been successful with nerve cells. Read more . . .
New Scoliosis SurgeryIn extreme cases of scoliosis, sometimes the only option is invasive surgery affixing rods directly to the patient’s spine. The IWK Hospital in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is the only hospital in North America to use the new ApiFix procedure, which instead of two long rods, uses a sign rod with a series of joints. It’s less invasive, requires less time in surgery and offers the patient greater flexibility. Read more . . .

Modeling SpinesSpinal fusion is a surgery to relieve chronic back pain through connecting vertebra together with screws. It’s a a common procedure and an invasive one. However, surgeons at Lee Health in Florida are using new scanning methods and creating 3D models of spines pre-surgery to help determine optimal screw placement.  
Read more . . .


Dr. Donald Corenman, MD, DC, of the Steadman Clinic in Vail, CO, walks you through an Anterior Cervical Decompression and Fusion (ACDF) 

Watch video . . .

A step by step video showing a Spinal Stenosis surgery by a Broward Health Medical Center (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) surgeon. Watch video . . .


NIFA is growing! We are expanding into what was recently unfinished space, building out four new offices in our office building in Centennial, CO. We’ve recently hired two new people: Cameron Kalkman (profiled below) and Alice Leininger, both in Admissions Support.

Why the growth? Over the past year we’ve partnered with CCI, the credentialing organization for operating room nurses, to create the NISE™ (Nurse in Surgery Essentials) course, which is selling very well. Business is increasing for our flagship RNFA program as well.

Our Favorite Horse Competitor

As this issue goes to press, Allyson Foust, daughter of NIFA’s Director of Student Support Nancy Foust, is competing in the World Championship Horse Show in Louisville, KY. It is the biggest horse show for the American Saddlebred horse breed; only the best of the breed and the best riders across the world compete there. Ally and her horse are competing in the Three-Gaited Pony Division.

The pony’s name is “Always Trust in Me” and her barn name is “Evie.” Ally got her about a year ago.

“She is amazing,” Ally says. “She has a HUGE personality and is all ‘show horse.’ She loves competing.”

Ally has been riding since she was in utero; she began competing at age 5. To prepare for this competition, she is at the barn every day. If she is not riding, she is caring for and bonding with Evie. “You need a bond with your horse to compete at this level,” Ally says.

“This show is a lifelong dream of mine,” she says. “My mom has worked even harder than I have to get me to this point. All of her co-workers at NIFA have watched us along this journey and we are both thankful for such a great company to support us.”

Please join us in wishing Ally and Evie the best in Louisville!

Employee Spotlight: Cameron Kalkman

Cameron wearing a suit outside around some trees. He's smiling.“Favorite job ever,” says Cameron Kalkman about working at NIFA. He works in Admissions Support.

“I like the aspect that I specifically work with nurses,” he says. “I find them to be genuine and overall great people. I also like the family atmosphere at NIFA. I talk to the President and CEO every day, and they really make my job easy.”

Cameron grew up in Littleton, CO, which is not far from NIFA headquarters. His family has its own health-care connection: Cameron’s grandfather, Dr. Gary VanderArk, has been a neurosurgeon at Denver’s Swedish Medical Center for 30 years. Dr. VanderArk is also a Distinguished Clinical Professor at the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Colorado-Denver and founder/president of a nonprofit, Doctors Care.

“My Grandpa is my HERO!” Cameron says. “He introduced me to everything I love about Colorado. Taught me how to ski when I was 3.”

Cameron attended Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI, got a degree in business, and then “bounced around Colorado,” living in Breckenridge and then Boulder. He is an avid backcountry skier, so Colorado’s a good match.

“I was the transportation manager at the St. Julian Hotel” (a luxury hotel in Boulder), he says, “which was a blast.” However, he and his partner of nine years, Kirby, bought a town home in a suburb just west of Denver, which prompted a move to the Mile High City. Once in Denver, he got a job as amenity director at an apartment building, managing the concierge staff and planning parties. It turns out that one of the NIFA executives lived in that building, noticed Cameron’s work and invited him to come by the company for an interview.

Cameron’s been working at NIFA for about a year. Just recently he and Kirby bought another house—this one a little closer to NIFA’s south-of-Denver location. Kirby works from home; she is a business operations manager for a big telecom company.

They have two cats, Mister Miyagi and Judy. Mr. Miyagi acts more like a dog than a cat in that he likes to play fetch, Cameron says. Judy the cat, whose real name is Buddha, has pretty blue eyes.

“A couple of years ago, if you told me I would own two houses and have a job I loved,” Cameron says, “I wouldn’t have believed you.”

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 MDT/MST  Friday 8:00am – 3:00pm MDT/MST

Practice Resources

Here are several of the most-in-demand sites for our students, prospective students and grads:

ACS 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, 2016 (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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Centennial, CO 80111