From the Editor

Julie LancasterIn this issue we offer you a glimpse into the lives of some people whose diverse work experiences offer a taste of the variety available to RNFAs.With this issue, we introduce the Student/Graduate Spotlight — a quick way to get to know some of your RNFA colleagues. Whether you are a current NIFA student or an RNFA graduate, please consider sending us information about yourself for a future issue. Just email it to me, and thanks in advance!

Julie Lancaster, Editor
OR Deployment in Iraq

Remember our perioperative troops!

bf9317ca-3f8d-436e-8800-f73ac344648bFor seven months during 2006-07, Chris Keith, BSN/RN, CNOR, U.S. Navy Lieutenant and current student in NIFA’s RNFA program, served as the only OR nurse in a small, shock trauma facility in Iraq.

“I carried a radio 24/7,” he says. “I ate with it, exercised with it, showered with it and slept with it. . . . I never want to carry a radio like that again.

“With all of that said, my deployment was the most professionally rewarding job I have ever done,” he continues, reporting on the hundreds of surgeries his team conducted on stretchers placed on field expedient stands. Sometimes Chris circulated two and three rooms at a time. They treated all comers — Americans and allies, Iraqi army and police personnel, civilians and “the ever-present ‘persons of interest’ (bad guys).” During his deployment there were 15 mass casualty situations.

“Medically we are changing hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. The populace around us knew that we would treat and help them. We had stories of people traveling over 100 miles through dangerous sections of outlying places just to come to TQ Surgical and receive care. They felt the risk of death was worth the opportunity to be taken care of by the Americans. I was glad to do it.”  Click here to read Chris Keith’s story.

Chris Keith is currently stationed at Naval Hospital Lemoore, Lemoore, CA.

Graduates in the Spotlight
b9ad3059-8c1a-47db-a351-24d8738d4fabName:  Lisa A. Donaldson
Credentials:  RNFA (NIFA grad, ’02), BABC (BA in Business Communications)
City & State:  Home is Texas; currently on location in Boston, MA
Current Job:  Employed by TransMedics Incorporated. I use an Organ Care System to perfuse hearts in a near physiological state. I am the expert with the machine, assuring that the surgeon cannulates the heart correctly, maintains the heart in a posterior facing position, retrograde perfusion of donor blood through the right side of the heart for many hours at a time. This job affords me the privilege of traveling all over the world . . . to one of the many different locations where we have an Organ Care System located.
Due to my many years of OR experience, I have to tell the surgeons exactly what to do and they actually listen. As a First Assistant I know the exact terminology and garner respect from the surgeons because of my title and experience.. . . The honor of being able to walk up to the table and help a surgeon complete a difficult procedure is breathtaking.  It’s not about the money or the fame; it’s about the prestige of having the knowledge to make a difference.
Quote: “The knowledge is the potential power” that we all should embrace; that’s an old Anthony Robbins line.


bede5e36-852b-44c7-b604-917c3a081dd0Name: Susan Holden
Credentials: RN, BSN, CNOR, RNFA (NFA grad, ’06)
City & State: San Diego, CA
Current Job: RNFA at Kaiser San Diego, working exclusively for the Orthopedic Dept. I assist on a variety of cases, with the majority being Total Joint Arthroplasty. I have been in this role since 1991, and attended NIFA to satisfy a “new” requirement at Kaiser that Specialty Practice Nurses must have attended a training program. I was originally “on-the-job” trained.
Hobbies: Photography, off-roading, computer stuff
Quote: One of my favorite things about being an RNFA is the respect I have from the rest of the OR Team. The RNs and Techs see me as “one of them” because I am a nurse, yet the surgeon relies on me as his/her partner during the case . . . he/she knows I am giving my full attention and will interject any observations or bits of wisdom I might have.


RNFA Tips is a great site to know about if you’re job hunting or exploring opportunities. It uses an approach it claims is “radically different” from other employment search engines to gather millions of job listings from thousands of websites — major job boards, newspapers, associations and company career pages. It’s easy to drill down by keyword and location — even salary range — to match your specific criteria.

You can search without signing up, but if you set up a free account you can save your searches and have new job listings that match your criteria delivered to you by email alert.

Another Medical Mission Opportunity

One of our readers, Linda Mendelson, RN, a recovery room nurse, sent us a story about an experience that changed her life forever: serving on a medical mission in Honduras. She encouraged us to let our readers know about the opportunity to go on a mission with the same organization, Light of the World Charities, based in Palm City, FL.

The story was less technical in nature than our usual fare, so we weren’t sure we’d run it. At that point, the organization’s president, Theresa Banks, chimed in. Theresa has been an RNFA and perioperative nurse for 20 years.

“I learned of surgical missions through the news on television and decided this was something I needed to experience for myself,” Theresa said. “Through networking I met many people devoted to this cause and with love and passion for surgical nursing, I began my journey.

eaa8a042-357c-4b23-b392-ba91a79010dc“[Linda Mendelson, RN] has been on two missions with us so far,” Theresa continues. “She was completely moved by this young girl who presented with a severe cleft lip and palate and two teeth protruding through her nose. A plastic surgeon from Palm City performed the surgery and the results were outstanding. This is just one of many beautiful and heartwarming stories experienced in Honduras.” This photo shows Maira post-op with Linda’s good friend, Jeanne Teter, RN.

Click here to read Linda Mendelson’s story. For information about going on a mission to Honduras or Africa, please e-mail Theresa Banks at [email protected] or call 772-221-4688. Theresa especially welcoms RNFAs to the program because, as she puts it, “they can do almost everything.” All of a volunteer’s expenses are paid through Light of the World.