From the Editor
Julie Lancaster
We hope you’ll enjoy this month’s story about Jo Clark’s recent surgical experience. Even though we try to steer clear of direct testimonials in the e-News (we strive for interesting content over marketing), we can’t resist including Jo’s testimonial because it has such a direct bearing on her story.

Read on for more news and, on a sadder note, a farewell to one of NIFA’s best friends.

Julie Lancaster, Editor
Graduate Spotlight: A Memorable Case

by Jo Clark, RN, BSN, CNOR, RNFA

Jo Clark works in Tucson, AZ in the Southern AZ VA Health Care System.

We had an internationally known cardiothoracic surgeon come to our facility for a redo AVR (aortic valve replacement). We had planned on him bringing an assistant with him since it would be a difficult case and he is well known for expressing his dissatisfaction if anything is not done right. He didn’t bring any help and there was discussion of canceling the case. I was asked if I minded assisting him since I work on the cardiothoracic team and routinely harvest leg vein for CABG’s (coronary artery bypass grafts) as an RNFA.

I accepted the assignment and the case went well. When he removed the aortic cannula, we each tied one of the cannulation stitches. Due to my RNFA training, I was confident my throws would slide down tight and my knot would hold firmly on the aorta. Air knots were unacceptable! I was able to keep pace and at the end of the case he thanked me for a job well done. That case was a defining moment for me as I felt like I had passed a test. Thanks to Jeremy (NIFA’s RNFA Program Director and faculty member) for sharing his experience, knowledge and patience as they were invaluable to me during this case.

More than a Couple of Knots

I actually went to RNFA school 10 years ago in Phoenix, AZ. The reason I attended NIFA’s class in 2009 is that I felt my initial training was lacking a strong background in suturing. My RNFA school had used black and white yarn to teach students to tie a square knot. That was to be followed up doing cases with the surgeon critiquing.

Problem is, I assist mostly on hearts. The surgeon was always busy taking down the IMA (internal mammary artery) while I was harvesting vein and then cannulating while I was closing. They just didn’t have time to answer questions or give critiques . . . and most of them know a couple of knots and that is what they use all the time. I learned by listening to attending surgeons teaching residents how to operate. I felt that my technique was adequate but lacking speed and versatility.

When I saw a sample demo of suturing on NIFA’s website, I decided it was time to invest in self-improvement and go back to RNFA school. I wish my first school had had someone like Jeremy teaching the suturing with a DVD to watch and practice at home instead of looking at a book. Being able to back up the DVD and repeat problem areas over and over was a major asset. Following this up with classroom feedback made a world of difference. I could finally understand what I was doing wrong and what I needed to do to correct it.

Jo Clark, RNFA
This is a picture from a few years back of me  closing a leg in the heart room. Jeremy will shake his head and say something about interrupted incisions…. but you do whatever the surgeon wants you to do.


Perioperative Nurse Week is November 8-14, 2009 and we need your ideas!

As you may know, our beautiful, new building is located only a few miles south of AORN in southeast Denver. NIFA would like to take over a gift or something really special for everyone working at headquarters and the traditional fruit and cheese basket just doesn’t say “Thank You” enough to all the great volunteers working there.

If you have a good idea for what gift NIFA should send AORN offices (please make it imaginative and affordable) on this special week, please email us at [email protected]. If we use your idea, we will make sure to put your name on the card and publish it in our December eNews!

Click here for ideas on how to Celebrate Perioperative Nurse Week in your area.

Farewell to Truffles

Fridays around NIFA will not be the same with the recent loss of our friend Truffles, loyal friend to all of us at the office. Truffles never missed “Bring your Pet to Work” Fridays.

All the regulars, including Emily’s India, John’s Archie, Susan’s Deuce and Jeremy’s Monty, as well as past students, employees and graduates, will miss the loving and gentle (albeit sometimes loud) presence of Truffles.