March 2019 • Volume 12, No. 3

From the Editor

March is colorectal cancer awareness month. Even if you already know that, it bears repeating because, as the US Department of Health and Human Services says, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States and the second leading cause of death from cancers that affect both men and women.

The good news? If everyone age 50 and older got regular screenings, 6 out of 10 deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented. Communities, health professionals, and families can work together to encourage people to get screened.

Everyone can take these healthful steps to help prevent colorectal cancer:

  •     Get screened starting at age 50
  •     Encourage your family members and friends over age 50 to get screened.
  •     Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.
  •     Get plenty of physical activity and eat healthy.

Scroll down for news and videos on this topic that could be helpful to you as an RNFA.

Our crossword puzzle this month is on Care and Cleaning of Surgical Instruments—always a valuable reminder. In the spotlight is graduate Kaitlyn Keim,  RN, BSN, from Millstadt, IL.

And of course you will find jobs we’ve collected for you, along with NIFA’s favorite links.


Julie Lancaster, Editor


Colorectal cancer doesn’t care how old you are

A 2017 study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found colon and rectal cancer rates are rising in young adults: a person born around 1990 has twice the risk of colon cancer and four times the risk of rectal cancer as a person born around 1950. This infographic is a free download from the Colorectal Cancer Alliance. Download PDF . . . 

Solving the ‘Catch-22’ of rectal cancer
Today’s standard procedure to treat rectal cancer includes radical surgery to remove the tumor along with the rectum and its encasing tissue (mesorectum). After the surgery, lab analysis assesses whether tumor infiltration has occurred into the lymph nodes of the mesorectum. But since radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy can be more effective in high-risk patients if administered before the surgery, this places physicians into “a sort of a Catch-22 situation, where determining the patient’s treatment strategy requires results from the same surgery.” Now a team in Lisbon, Portugal, has developed a non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methodology that helps radiologists distinguish between benign and malignant lymph nodes, with high accuracy. Graphic: Noam Shemesh, Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown. Read more . . .

Looking Beneath the Surface in Colorectal Cancer
An expert discusses genetic profiling and other advances in the treatment of colorectal cancer. Read more . . .


Colorectal Cancer Surgery: principles and types
The main principles of colorectal cancer surgery and the most common options for surgery based on anatomical location of the cancer. Watch video . . .

Webinar on rectal cancer: anatomical and technical basics of Total Mesorectal Excision (TME)
This webinar from IRCAD (Research Institute Against Digestive Cancer) offers in-depth education about and demonstration of Total Mesorectal Excision, a procedure in which a length of bowel located around a tumor is removed. Watch video . . .

Learning Laparoscopic Sigmoid Colectomy (High Anterior Resection)
An instructional video on how to perform a laparoscopic sigmoid colectomy (high anterior resection). The video focuses on technical aspects of the surgery.  Watch video . . .

On a Lighter Note

While we’re at it, I can’t resist recommending an enjoyable and educational book, written for the layperson, that explores all kinds of questions about human digestion and elimination.

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, is by Mary Roach, dubbed by the Washington Post “America’s Funniest science writer.”

“Why is crunchy food so appealing?” reads the Amazon blurb about this book. “Why is it so hard to find words for flavors and smells? Why doesn’t the stomach digest itself? How much can you eat before your stomach bursts? Can constipation kill you? Did it kill Elvis? In Gulp we meet scientists who tackle the questions no one else thinks of?or has the courage to ask.” Read more . . .

Cleaning & Care of Surgical Instruments Crossword Puzzle

Test your knowledge of cleaning and care of surgical instruments with this month’s crossword puzzle.

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



Graduate Spotlight: Kaitlyn Keim


Student Status
Graduated from NIFA’s RNFA program  12/18/18

City & State
Millstadt, IL

Current Position  
RN Circulator/RNFA student at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital

Where did you get your RN degree?
Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

How did you come to choose perioperative nursing?
I started nursing on labor and delivery and obtained a lot of experience as an OR circulator for C-sections, hysterectomies, and other female reproductive surgeries. I fell in love with the OR.

What is the scariest moment you’ve ever seen at the table?
My scariest moment as a circulator was having a mom with a uterine abruption which turned into a 5-liter blood loss situation—baby and mom survived!

What is one technique or RNFA trick you’ve learned from NIFA that you will use for life?  
I learned so much at the workshop and am so glad I attended! Dean was an amazing teacher and I am so thankful for him to share his knowledge and experiences with us! Subcuticular stitching will be very useful.

How do you feel having your RNFA will impact your life/career?
I can’t wait to start my new career! I think RNFA gives me a set of special skills that will make me stand out in my career.

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: 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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