October 18, 2022

Keynote: Where Do We Go From Here?

By: Lauren McCaffrey

Editor's Note

David Wyatt, PhD, MPH, RN, CNOR, NEA-BC, chief nursing officer of the University Hospitals at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, opened the OR Manager Conference on Monday, October 17, by discussing how to move forward as leaders with resilience and purpose.

In a leadership role, “we have to have an understanding of where we are,” Wyatt said. “You can’t chart the course if you don’t fully assess what is happening.” Wyatt tapped into some prevalent issues for the perioperative community, including staff shortages, workplace violence, and gender equity. He explained that, when talking to current AORN President Vangie Dennis, MSN, RN, CNOR, CMLSO, they realized that “COVID-19 is a great revealer,” exposing vulnerability and shortcomings in the healthcare operations that were preexisting. "In healthcare, we were coasting by, and the pandemic forced us to acknowledge what we were ignoring," he said.

He introduced the idea that the world and everyone in it are now different, and as a result, our approach to work must be different. Some measures that should be taken to keep moving forward in the “new world” include:

  • engaging "new" team members (according to Wyatt, even veteran healthcare workers need to be seen as a new workforce) to create the future
  • accepting and fighting for the different values the new workforce now have
  • changing our terminology when addressing issues and solutions.

After engaging the audience in a poll evaluating what leaders fear most about their position, the most common answers were failure, burnout, and failing. In response, Wyatt addressed the importance of connecting through vulnerability, honesty, and courage, as well as understanding that your role has purpose. The role of a leader, he said, is to provide context, perspective, and a point of reference for your team.

“Without courage, there is not hope,” Wyatt said, “As leaders, it’s important that we use that and move forward.” What your team needs from you is:

  • Hope
  • Confidence
  • Engagement
  • Honesty
  • Transparency
  • Professional leadership.

Wyatt concluded with a famous quote from Abraham Lincoln: “Whatever you are, be a good one.”  

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