VASNHS perioperative nurses earn TrueNorth Award

VASNHS perioperative nurses were recognized for their commitment to excellence as they were selected from more than 11,300 facilities nationwide as the 2018 recipients of the Competency & Credentialing Institute’s TrueNorth Award. VASNHS is the only VA facility that has ever received this honor.

NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev.–The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Southern Nevada Healthcare System has become the first VA facility in the nation to earn the highest honor from one of the world’s largest specialty nursing certification boards.

Feb. 23, the Competency & Credentialing Institute announced the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System as their 2018 TrueNorth Award winner. The award recognizes facilities whose “true north” guides the nursing staff to be lifelong learners, models of excellent practice and continuous advocates for superb patient care and nursing practice through CNOR certification.

As the only certification body for perioperative nurses, CCI presents this honor annually to organizations that use CNOR certification to establish a professional perioperative nursing staff and exceptional patient care.

“The award is for excellence in support of perioperative nursing certification,” said Jim Stobinski, CEO of CCI. “These are the best practices in the country, and they are exemplified by this facility, and that was the reason for granting the award.” Stobinski, along with CCI President Julia Thompson expressed their admiration for the VASNHS perioperative nursing staff’s work in and outside of the operating room.

To receive CNOR certification, perioperative nurses must demonstrate that they are as qualified to provide specialty care for patients before, during, and after surgery. This is accomplished via education and training, completing a minimum of two years and 2,400 hours experience perioperative nursing, and passing a qualification exam. VASNHS has been “CNOR Strong” since 2013, meaning that at least 50 percent of the perioperative nurses are CNOR certified. Currently, nearly 82 percent of VASNHS’ perioperative nurses are CNOR certified.

Greg Clark, Operating Room Nurse Manager, said that the award reflects his team’s dedication to providing Veterans with the best possible care. “Units with a high number of certified nurses have better patient outcomes and staff retention,” Clark said. “Our data shows that our Operating Room nursing care is consistently meeting the high standards set by the VA. I am so very proud of this team and so very proud to say that we are very safe operating room clinical staff.”

VASNHS’ recognition is also the result of numerous other achievements accomplished by the perioperative nursing staff. In addition to achieving CNOR certification, the staff created an O.R. Basic Course to allow facility nurses to gain operating room experience. They also developed a bedside reporting tool to include the patient in the transfer of their care from surgery to recovery. Additionally, they also implemented a radio-frequency identification sponge tracking system for prevention of retained surgical sponges.

The perioperative nurses also collaborated with the surgeons to create action plans and practices for preventing surgical site infections, spearheaded a smoke-free initiative to avert surgical smoke generated by electrosurgery, and received individual accolades for professionalism in nursing. Even with all of the effort the team put in, and receiving an honorable mention for the TrueNorth Award in 2017, Clark was still taken aback when he heard the good news. “It was nearly overwhelming,” he said. “A feeling that our years of preparation and hard work is being recognized at this level. There was a complete feeling across the perioperative nursing staff of both excitement and not quite being believable.”

Dr. Jennifer Strawn, Associate Director of Patient Care Services and Nurse Executive for VASNHS, expressed her gratitude for their efforts over the last year. “I am very proud of our perioperative nurses and their achieving the TrueNorth Award. Their pursuit of excellence speaks to their dedication and desire to provide high quality, safe patient care. Additionally, this achievement recognizes them for their professionalism as nurses and their dedication to advancing nursing practice.”

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