September 2016 • Volume 9, No. 9
From the Editor

Just as September is traditionally back-to-school month (although school generally starts up in August these days), this issue of the eNews is “back to basics.”What basics?

First, the basics that form the heart of the RNFA mission–communication and patient safety.

And secondly, some basics that reflect where we’ve come from: the history of surgical scrubs, and a brand new crossword puzzle featuring surgical instruments.

In this issue we profile a member of NIFA’s IT staff: Software Developer Ricky Saxena. And read on for jobs and our favorite links.

Julie Lancaster, Editor

Back to Basics: The Heart of the Mission

By Kim Jones, Director of RNFA and Perioperative Programs

As RNFAs, we need to get back to the basics of communication, human interaction and patient safety. With the rise of technology, the human touch has become lost by many.Although technology’s easy access to data is a great boon for healthcare, it’s easy to get too dependent on it. It reminds me of a person walking down the street looking at their smart phone, earbuds in place, oblivious to their surroundings: they’re prone to running into someone, tripping over something or even getting hit by a car. We can miss out on important patient observations and team communications if our eyes are glued to a screen.

In the RNFA role, we communicate with not only the surgeon and surgical team but also with the patient. Communication is an important aspect that we need to cultivate in our practice. Not only does it make for more effective team functioning but it is critical for patient safety.

Instead of just looking at a monitoring device or a computer screen, we need to be able to look at a human being–the surgeon, someone else on the team, or the patient–and actually talk to and listen to them.

Basic patient safety for the RNFA includes not only knowing how to assist proficiently in the operating room, but being aware of any lab values, co-morbidities and any other extenuating circumstances that can have an impact on the patient’s surgical procedure. All of this could be included in the preoperative assessment or in talking with the surgeon so you are prepared for the case. Being prepared can equate to patient safety.

Another component of patient safety and communication is related to patient positioning. RNFAs assist with positioning of the patient, as they are familiar with the procedure and surgeon preferences. If the patient has an underlying physical problem that has not been communicated, the patient could potentially suffer an injury resulting in unanticipated complications. Communication is important. Talk to the patient and involve them preoperatively. Verify their range of motion. Communicate to the team if special precautions need to be taken.

RNFAs start out knowing the basics and with time and practice, develop the “gut instinct” to be a dynamic member of the surgical team. We progress from having basic skills to having the skills of a seasoned professional–all as a result of the basic skill called communication. Being able to reassure the patient that everything possible will be done for their safety will go a long way to not only putting the patient at ease, but increasing patient satisfaction scores because the patient understands that you value their communication.

TedMed Talk: A Story About Knots and Surgeons

Here’s a 12-minute TedMed talk that brings home some of the real reasons we’ve chosen the path we’ve chosen.A chance encounter with some students practicing surgical skills on the train brought back a flood of memories for Ed Gavagan, who owes his life to a surgical team.
Watch the talk…
Read the transcript…

History of Surgical Scrubs

Historically, nurses have worn uniforms for a long time. The white dress, apron and cap that nurses wore throughout much of the 20th century were derived from the nuns’ habit; for centuries, in many parts of the world, it was the nuns who took care of sick people.

Doctors often wore a dark coat. But surgeons traditionally wore their own clothes for surgery. Some of them would don a butcher’s apron for protection.

The evolution from these beginnings to the colorful scrubs worn today by surgeons and nurses alike is an interesting one. Here’s an article on the history of surgical scrubs, put together by Jacksonville University, and a Wikipedia article on the topic with additional interesting points and illustrations.

Perioperative Puzzle: Surgical Instruments

Test your knowledge 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!

In The Spotlight: Rahul Saxena

ricky4-minOver the past six months, NIFA has digitized and automated many processes to make communications with our students and potential students more seamless. At the helm of that effort is Software Developer Rahul Saxena, better known as Ricky.

Ricky, who has been working at NIFA since March, grew up in Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh state in central India.

After completing a bachelor’s degree in India in Information Technology, he worked for a couple of years with Infosys in India and then decided he’d like to study in the U.S. Accepted by several universities, he chose University of Colorado-Denver because he liked their Management Information Systems program.

During school, he worked part-time in the university’s payroll and benefits department. After graduating with a master’s degree in MIS with a specialty in Business Intelligence, he worked for Dish Network before coming to NIFA.

What is it like living in Colorado after growing up in India?

“There is a lot of cultural difference,” he says. “Even though the city I come from is a decent-sized city, and central India is more westernized than, say, the southern part of India, living in Denver has been an adjustment.”

Language is one big factor. At home, he was speaking approximately 50% of the time in English and 50% in Hindi. Now it’s 100% English. Then there’s the food—completely different.

Not to mention the weather. His home city is like California, he says, “Never too hot or too cold; always good.” The first time he saw snow was in Denver, and he soon found himself driving in it.

Nevertheless, he says, “I love it here in Colorado. I love the mountains, have gone on a few hikes, and recently started playing golf.”


Click here for the RNFA job postings we’ve collected for you this month.

NIFA – Office Hours

Monday-Friday 8:00am – 4:00pm

Practice Resources

Here are several of the most-in-demand sites for our students, prospective students and grads:

ACS Surgery News: Specialty News and Commentaries, Videos and More
AORN Legislative Map: What’s Happening in My State
RNFA Scope of Practice by State (PDF)
ACS List of Cases that Require an Assistant at Surgery, 2016 (PDF)
AORN Perioperative Bookstore
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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