February 2020 • Volume 13, No. 2

From the Editor

As this issue goes to press, the news is dominated by reports about the new coronavirus, COVID-19. We know hospitals and clinics are focusing on preparation and protection, and we send everyone in the NIFA family our sincere wishes for health and safety.

But in honor of Black History Month, we hope you can take a few minutes for a more uplifting topic. In this issue, we feature four African Americans who have made major surgical advances, while opening up opportunities in the medical field. Photograph at right: Alexa Canady, MD, pioneering neurosurgeon.

Our Student in the Spotlight is Kim M. Hanks, ACNP-C, of Boerne, TX.

Scroll down for a brand new crossword puzzle on laser safety in surgery, our collection of RNFA job listings for you, and NIFA’s favorite links.

Enjoy, and take good care.

Julie Lancaster, Editor

Surgical Advances Made by African Americans

By Brooke Murphy and Morgan Haefner, Becker’s Hospital Review

Patricia Bath, MD

First black female physician awarded a patent for a medical invention. Patricia Bath received her medical degree from Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, DC. She interned at Harlem Hospital in New York City  and completed a fellowship in ophthalmology at Columbia University in 1970. She invented a new device and technique for cataract surgery known as laserphaco, for which she was the first black woman to receive a medical patent. She was the first woman appointed chair of ophthalmology at a U.S. medical institution (UCLA) in 1983. she retired from her post 10 years later and went on to become an advocate for telemedicine, serving in roles related to the emerging technology at Howard University and St. George’s University in Grenada.

Alexa Canady, MD

First black female neurosurgeon. Dr. Canady struggled to secure a neurosurgical internship after earning her medical degree from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1975. But by 1981, Dr. Canady had become America’s first black female neurosurgeon. She completed her residency at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and went on to specialize in pediatric neurosurgery, practicing at a number of respected medical institutions. She served as chief of neurosurgery at Detroit-based Children’s Hospital of Michigan from 1987 to 2001. Under her guidance, the department gained national recognition and has consistently been ranked among America’s best pediatric neurosurgery programs in the U.S. News & World Report Best Children’s Hospitals list.

Ben Carson, MD

First neurosurgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins attached at the back of the head. Dr. Carson was one of the youngest physicians to direct pediatric neurosurgery at Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Hospital. He successfully completed the first surgical separation of conjoined twins attached at the back of the head in 1987. Dr. Carson is currently the secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and his medical degree at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and later completed his residency in neurosurgery at Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Daniel Williams, MD

One of the first physicians to perform a successful open-heart surgery; founded the first interracial and black-owned hospital. Dr. Williams opened Provident Hospital in Chicago in 1893, the first black-owned and operated hospital and the first medical facility with an interracial staff. He was one of the first physicians to complete a successful pericardial surgery (open-heart surgery). He later became chief surgeon at Freedmen’s Hospital in Washington, DC. Dr. Williams was the first black member of the American College of Surgeons and co-founded the National Medical Association with Robert Boyd, MD. He earned his medical degree from Chicago Medical College.

Click here for more medical pioneers to celebrate this Black History Month…

Laserphaco Surgery

This video was created by Dr. Bath as a definitive educational work on the subject of laserphaco. In this video, the laser physics concepts of photoablation, phacoablation and ablation threshold are described.  

Watch video . . .


Dr. Canady gives an inspiring talk at Rosalind Franklin University a few years ago about her struggles and triumph as a woman and an African American in the field of neurosurgery.

Watch video . . .

Ben Carson

This documentary about the career of Ben Carson provides a look at the the variety of cases he took on when other doctors wouldn’t, saving the lives of many children.

Watch video . . .

Laser Safety Crossword Puzzle

Test your knowledge of laser safety in the OR with this month’s all-new crossword puzzle.

When you’re ready to check your answers, follow this link to see how well you did. Good luck!

Student Spotlight: Kim M. Hanks

Credentials: ACNP-C

Student Status:
Current student

City & State:
Boerne, TX

Current Position:
I’m currently an Adult Acute Care Nurse Practitioner with a Cardiothoracic Surgery group and have been for 8 years. Primary responsibilities relate to outpatient office visits and inpatient care. Background is mainly critical care. Just starting my OR experience, but looking forward to this journey.

Where did you get your RN degree?
Northwestern State University, Louisiana

How did you come to choose perioperative nursing?
My service line (cardiothoracic surgery) needed assistants.

What is the funniest or scariest moment you’ve ever seen at the table?
Every moment is scary at this level of knowledge. ?

What is one technique or RNFA trick you’ve learned from NIFA this week that you will use for life?
The loop lock, Heaney suture.

How do you feel having your RNFA will impact your life/career?
I truly believe I’m on to soaring heights learning new things & now putting the surgical and clinical together!

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)

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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