NIFA Surgical e-News, March 2016

Name: John M Russell

Credentials: RN, MSN, APN, FNP-BC, CCRN

Student Status: Currently in Doctorate of Nursing Practice program at Mennonite College of Nursing, anticipating graduation Aug 2016!

City and State: Rockford, IL
Current Position: Cardiothoracic Surgery Nurse Practitioner
Where did you get your degrees?
Associate in Applied Science from Parkland College in Champaign, I L
RN-BSN online from Chamberlain College of Nursing in Addison, I L
Masters of Science in Nursing -Family Nurse Practitioner from Mennonite College of Nursing at Illinois State University in Normal, IL

Why did you choose perioperative nursing?
I worked for over 5 years as a critical care nurse before becoming an advanced practice nurse, prior to which I worked in pre-hospital medicine as a paramedic. I knew that whichever role I assumed as a new nurse practitioner, I would certainly want to have procedures, the operating room, and hospital-based medicine on my wish list. The opportunity to work with a cardiothoracic surgery group fell in my lap as the critical care unit where I worked had a vacancy shortly before my APN schooling was completed. I was fortunate enough to do some of my clinical time during my APN schooling with several surgical groups and immediately fell in love with the operating room. Since working in my job for the past year and a half, I have been able to transition my role more into the operating room and after doing the SutureStar Summit 6-day course, I was ready to get my hands dirty on cardiac surgery cases and have the confidence necessary to take on the challenge.

What is the funniest or scariest moment you’ve ever seen at the table?
One of the most consistent “funny” moments I see at the table is when one of our surgeons who hates pop music gets to hear an earful of Justin Beiber or Kanye West. Routinely, he prefers to hear classic rock or Motown hits, but once in a while we are able to sneak in some top 40 to make things lively. There are usually side bets as to how long the songs will play until he notices it and freaks out, sometimes throwing supplies. Needless to say, he’s not a “Belieber.”

What is one technique or RNFA trick you’ve learned from NIFA that you will use for life?
I came into the SutureStar Summit 6-day course this past October with minimal suturing or operating room experience. To make matters worse, I am left-handed and working in cardiothoracic surgery opposite a right-handed surgeon, that is a losing combination. The best technique I can give credit to NIFA for is by the end of my SutureStar Summit, I was able to comfortably and ambidextrously suture, and consistently now suture everything right­ handed. This may seem like a simple feat, but my surgeon noticed it immediately and on multiple occasion has given me credit for how smooth my transition to the OR was; for that, I give NIFA all the credit for the great immersion experience!

How do you feel having your RNFA will impact your life/career?
Without hesitation, having an RNFA makes me a more marketable nurse practitioner. Many hospital systems are no longer allowing APNs to enter the operating room to assist unless they have proof of a formalized training process such as NIFA’s RNFA program. The lifetime earnings, ability to effectively assist in surgery, independently bill and assist, as well as an overall sense of self-worth after the hard work that goes into the RNFA program all are party to the lasting impact that the RNFA training has on my life. Many of my peers mention they want to learn how to do procedures, assist in the OR, or perform basic suture tying skills but don’t know where to go to learn. After I show them what I’ve learned from my program, it is quite easy to see why NIFA’s program is worth the time, effort, and resources. Most importantly, I know my patients benefit from my training and in the end, isn’t that why we all became nurses?