A Nurse Leads the Way in Innovation By Asking Questions
Eventually, I went to an Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) local chapter conference. I was intrigued by the anatomy, the ability to work with intelligent people, getting answers to questions promptly, and seeing results almost immediately. I have always asked a lot of questions, and have learned to respect and respond to those who asked me lots of questions. This has served me well in starting programs and being elected to AORN offices.
At the time, working as a surgical nursing assistant was approved in only two states: Virginia and Idaho. The state of Virginia allowed the creation of Registered Nurse First Assistant (RNFA) programs with the state’s approval. I created a curriculum — one of the first in the U.S. — and it included didactic, preceptorship, and lab practice. As the leader, I was adamant that we all share our knowledge to strengthen the team.
I decided to accept an offer for an administrative position from another hospital, where I started a quality improvement (QI) program for the OR and put together a cardiac program for an affiliate hospital. Over the next few years, I was recruited to start a cardiac surgery program in Arlington, Va., and a cardiac program in Daytona Beach, Fla. In these positions, I looked at the whole cardiac service program and worked to make the care as seamless as possible. It’s important to reach out to other departments related to surgery — I never waited for them to come to me. Cardiac surgery is the ultimate team sport.
As for as the leadership portion, I love turning caterpillars into butterflies. I have been able to delegate many new projects to staff who had great potential to grow, learn, and lead. They have rarely (if ever) disappointed me.
Humans are not machines and they are constantly changing. Therefore, nurses need to be constantly alert to changes, innovations, and other aspects that affect the human condition.
Ask questions — even the stupid ones. This is so important in being able to foster curiosity, trust, and innovation. In a trusting environment, the nurse will be more likely to speak up and potentially save a limb— or a life. Finally, get to know the clinicians who care for your patients throughout the patient continuum so that these relationships foster better communication among and between those caring for the patient.