February 8, 2023

Session: Creative staffing during a time of shortages

Editor’s Note

Amanda Brown, MS, RN, PCNS-BC, CNS-CP, CNOR, Nurse Professional Development Specialist, Lutheran Medical Center, Intermountain Health and recently retired Deborah Hedrick, MA, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, Director, Perioperative Services, Lutheran Medical Center, shared the creative staffing program they implemented at their institution in a Tuesday session at OR Business Management Conference.

The program utilizes Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), having them train with RNs and also act as a scrub nurse or second circulator in the OR. Hedrick described this as a successful program used to recruit and retain new talent in a time of staff shortages. She also made note of the cost savings when using an LPN instead of  travel staff. Hedrick described the process of getting this program implemented, adding that it required significant research of Colorado legislation in order to determine the full scope of practice for an LPN.

Brown described the day-to-day operations of the program, including the training schedule, where the LPNs receive a mixture of lecture-based and lab learning. “They need hands on opportunities,” she said. The program creates a career growth opportunities for the LPNs, who receive training through AORN's "Periop 101" program. Brown also emphasized the importance of the shadowing aspect of the training. This helps bring the whole team together and on board with the program, she noted.

Hedrick and Brown’s program was covered in an article in the February issue of OR Manager. However, since implementing it, they have learned a few key lessons which they shared with their audience, including:

  • vetting their legal team earlier in the process
  • understanding the importance of communicating and having regular check ins with the team before and during training
  • referring to LPN colleagues correctly
  • disbursing content so that LPNs aren't overwhelmed with too much information at once.

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