IFPN President's Message February 2023
Dear IFPN Colleagues,
As we begin to move towards Spring in the Northern Hemisphere and out of COVID, the impact of the pandemic will forever change the way we practice Perioperative nursing. This impact will be felt for years to come.
This Spring we will host the 1st in a series of webinars titled, “Coming Out of COVID, What’s Next for Perioperative Nursing?” with a panel of speakers from the IFPN Board representing different perspectives from North America, South America, Europe and Asia-Pacific.
We will continue to have a nursing shortage that was accelerated by the pandemic with more nurses leaving the profession in record numbers. We shouldn’t be caught off guard by the shortage – when I graduated with my nursing degree over 30 years ago there was a shortage then, now, and will be into the future – unless we take bold steps and act.
During COVID we saw hospitals experiencing turnover of nursing staff that were as high as 50% across departments. One source writes that the United States may have a gap of between 200,000 to 450,000 nurses available for direct patient care, equating to a 10 to 20 percent gap. Within Perioperative Services alone, another source indicated that we will have a shortage of approximately 200,000 Perioperative nurses, with 1 in 5 expecting the retire in the next five years. Don’t get caught up in the exact numbers since each source you look at is different, but no matter what the number, the shortage is real. While these numbers are specific to the US, many of you around the world are experiencing the same challenges.
While nursing schools are educating higher numbers of students, the turnover is outpacing new nurses coming into the profession. Also, we are bringing in new graduates with less experience who need preceptors and mentors which are not always available to them as they navigate patient care as a Novice nurse. I was fortunate in my career when I started as an inexperienced nurse in surgery that I had resources immediately available to support my growth and development, but with the high turnover and staffing challenges those resources are stretched and not immediately available. Statistics in the US show that over 50% of nurses are age 50 and older with a high number expected to retire in the near future.
I was reading a report about the 10 things that Gen Z and Millennial nurses want from their hospitals, but what they want is nothing new, we have all wanted these same things for years:
- On the job support
- Respect and recognition
- More flexible work hours
- Wanting to be fulfilled
When I was providing direct patient care I left the hospitals on days feeling really good about the care I gave and on other days I left frustrated, feeling I could have done better. My frustration, like yours was often related to those non-clinical tasks that prevented me from spending more time with my patients. Studies show that approximately 20% of a nurse’s time is doing “other task” that do not allow them to work to the top of their license – this is where the frustration and lack of “fulfillment” sets in. This coupled with the nursing shortage requires that we transform the way care is being delivered. This is where we need to make a bold and transformational move towards Hybrid Deliver Models, Technology, Digital Apps and the use of Artificial Intelligence to provide support to our nurses and reduce the burden of those administrative and clerical tasks that remove us from direct patient care.
Organizations are now developing hybrid delivery models in the Acute Care space (not just ambulatory) that will have physical and virtual nurses working side by side delivering care. Through the use of technology, we will see virtual nurses supporting the onsite team via video conferencing by:
- Completing the admission assessment and med-rec process when the patient arrives to Preoperative Holding
- Completing the discharge process and patient teaching in the Recovery Room
- Acting as a preceptor “On Demand” when doing task such as opening sterile supplies, setting up a room for a procedure, or mixing and administering medications
Most of our time in preparing a patient for surgery entails; charting, completing the med-rec process and other paper work, which take us away direct patient care. In the future, I envision that the physical nurses onsite will now be able to provide the more technical nursing care while the virtual nurse is completing patient history, assessment and documenting. Of course, there needs to be a coordinated efforts and “hand-offs” between the physical nurse and the virtual nurse. The ability to give nurses the opportunity to remain part of the team (virtually) will potentially bring them back to the workforce and allow nurses in their late 50s and 60s to continue working without the physical demands.
There will also be digital apps that use Artificial intelligence (AI) to support the clinical team in delivering care and reducing clerical and administrative tasks. A great example of this is Preadmission testing which is a cumbersome process. Through technology and AI we will be able to get the patient to the right level of preoperative visit, order the right labs and get the right consults versus the labor intensive process hospitals currently have in place in which nurses spend most of their time on clerical tasks.
One last example is the future use of a digital preference cards that provides the surgeon transparency into their supplies, cost per case, and recommended additions and deletions that are automated. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is having accurate preference cards from both a supply cost and inventory management perspective, but also from a quality of care and patient safety perspective.
I invite you to join the webinar this Spring (details will come out soon) to hear different perspectives from around the globe on what’s next for Perioperative Nursing.
IFPN President 2022-2024
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