From the Editor 

As you may know, May 6-12, 2010, is National Nurses Week, a time to honor and thank the hardworking nursing professionals worldwide. We at NIFA would be remiss if we didn’t take this opportunity to express our profound appreciation for all you do.

Our RNFA tip this month offers a few quick ways you can extend some appreciation to your own hardworking body.

And to round out a week of appreciation, we’d like to offer you a little fun. Check out the winning video from AORN’s Hand Hygiene Video Contest. If the staff of the Billings Clinic, in Billings, MT, can’t get you passionate about hand washing, I don’t know what will!


Julie Lancaster, Editor


 RNFA Tip: Be Kind to Your Spine in the OR
by Gwen Phillips, SPTA
Your spine can take a beating when you stand for long periods of time in the OR. Proper posture can help prevent pain and fatigue–it simply takes less energy to use your body when it’s in correct alignment. Even a few minutes of attention a day can help. Check out these simple tips:

  • Completely relax your stomach muscles. Notice how this exaggerates the lumbar curve in your lower back. Now engage your abdominal muscles as if you’re trying to touch your belly button to your spine. This should elongate your spine, decreasing that lumbar curve. When your abdominal muscles are engaged, pressure is taken off your spine, decreasing fatigue and pain.
  • It’s easy to “lock” your knees when standing for long periods of time but this doesn’t do your lower back any favors. Locking your knees–standing with them very straight–actually transfers the weight-bearing load from your legs and hips into your lower back. Standing with “soft” knees–knees that are mostly straight but flexible–will relieve your lower back.
  • Driving to and from work is a great time to give your upper back and neck some TLC. At stoplights, roll your shoulders back to touch the seat–this gently stretches the chest muscles that can become tight when doing detail work. Press your head and neck back into the headrest as if trying to make a double chin. This relaxes your neck extensors that work hard supporting your head when you’re gazing down in surgery. Both these exercises can be done while standing in the OR, too.

Guest contributor Gwen Phillips is also a professional dancer.

 Student in the Spotlight: Doris Foltz
Name:  Doris Foltz
Credentials: RN, CNOR
City and State: Harrisonburg and Stanley, Virginia
Current Job:  Cardiothoracic Surgical Team at Rockingham Memorial Hospital, Harrisonburg, VA
Student Status: I have all my RNFA hours completed but still need to send in paperwork
Story: I was late in deciding my future career. I drove a school bus for Page County Public Schools for 10 years before I decided I wanted to become a nurse.

After first obtaining my GED (I had dropped out of school), I became an LPN and started work at Rockingham Memorial Hospital in 1990. I worked on a geriatric floor that became an oncology floor during my first year of nursing. I worked there until November 1997, when I saw an opening for an OR nurse. I transferred to the OR and I have been here ever since. In May 2002, I became a RN. In 2006, I became a CNOR. I scrub, circulate, first assist and now I can close incisions.

In the fall of 2006, one of our OR rooms was renovated to become a new open-heart surgery operating room–a new venture for RMH and our community. I have always been fascinated with the heart, so this new program sounded exciting to me. Since 2002, I had been the Specialty Coordinator for General and Vascular Surgery, which I loved, but in January 2007, I decided to leave that position and join the cardiac team–the first OR nurse at RMH to join the team.

Little did I know that it would be a life-changing experience. First of all, I lived 50 minutes away from the hospital in Stanley, Virginia–my hometown, where I had lived all my life. This had not been a problem before because I could stay in one of the OR call rooms when I was on call (30-minute response time required). However, by fall 2007, we had an open-heart surgeon and were planning to do our first open-heart surgery in January 2008. The call response requirement was still 30 minutes, but because our team was small, we decided to try three weeks of being on-call and one week off call. After long talks with my family, I decided to buy a townhouse here in Harrisonburg, and since December 2007 I have lived in Harrisonburg for three weeks straight and then gone back home to Stanley for one week.

In the heart room, our surgeon wanted the nurses to be able to close the leg incisions for vein harvest. In summer 2008, we received skin closure classes and in September 2008 I went on my third surgical mission trip to Santa Cruz, Bolivia, where I was able to assist in closing the skin incisions. One year later I went on my fourth surgical mission to Bolivia and am scheduled for a fifth one this October.

In October 2009, we were lucky to have Jeremy [Gofton, RNFA Program Director] here at RMH for a three-day class in first assisting. This has been a very rewarding experience and I wish I had done it sooner.

It is May 2010, and I have just completed my clinical sponsor internship. I still have paperwork that needs to be turned in. I am mainly in the cardiothoracic surgery room but I do work in the main OR when needed. I do general, vascular, and some ortho and gynecology. I chose 12 surgeons to be my clinical sponsors because I was afraid I would not get enough time with only two or three surgeons. After having this challenge of getting all the evaluations forms filled out by so many different surgeons, I would recommend to new or current NIFA students that you only choose three or four surgeons to sponsor you.

NIFA has given me the encouragement to fulfill more challenging roles and situations than I normally would have chosen. I recommend this wonderful program to all RNs.

RNFA Program Tuition Increase
Tuition for NIFA’s RNFA Program 2.0 will increase on July 1, 2010, so if you know anyone who has been on the brink of registering, please let them know that now is the time to register. Thanks!