For Amy Holloway, a registered nurse in the OR at Atlantic General Hospital, earning her registered nurse first assistant (RNFA) certification is another way to push herself – to reach that next step in her professional career.
She has already completed the requisite two years of surgery experience, earned certification in perioperative nursing (CNOR), and completed her two-semester course at Anne Arundel Community College for RN first assists. This mixture of education and experience has been rewarded with the responsibility and satisfaction of being a surgeon’s first assistant.
As a first assistant, Amy is able to help the surgeons by tying blood vessels, making stab wounds for drains, applying dressings, and writing up postoperative orders. She is also able to perform pre-operative evaluations and teach patients about how to care for themselves after an operation.
According to the Association of PeriOperative Registered Nurses (AORN), “Activities included in first assisting are further refinements of perioperative nursing practices.”
As Amy states, “I want to take this as far as the road will go.”
She’s referring to the level a registered nurse can reach in perioperative nursing, the term used to describe a nurse’s role and varied duties before, during and after a patient’s surgery.
Amy decided late in her freshman year at Salisbury University that nursing was the way to go. She knew she loved biology and other sciences. And she loved challenging herself. Combined with the job security offered by the profession, nursing was a natural choice.
“I knew that nursing would give me a wide range of options. It’s a multi-faceted profession and you can always find a job,” she said. “And, nursing has always kept me interested in what I was doing.”
With just a handful of days spent observing surgery during rotations in her junior and senior years at Salisbury University, her interest in the specialty grew. She spoke with a surgery nurse at Salisbury’s Peninsula Regional Medical Center, and by the time she took her boards after graduating from SU in 1999, she knew what she wanted to do.
She spent a year and a half at PRMC, but wanted to work closer to home. She had married and Amy, a Snow Hill native, and her husband were living in Ocean City. That led her to the decision to join Atlantic General Hospital’s nursing staff, a choice that shortened her commute drastically but also brought other benefits.
Amy found the working conditions at Atlantic General to be very open and relaxed. Unlike at so many hospitals across the nation where nurse burnout is a common problem and new hires are offered very little time for orientation and on-the-job training when they walk through the door, the atmosphere at Atlantic General is conducive to the learning and growing process.
Whenever she or one of her co-workers wants to learn something new, time is taken to teach them or send them to the latest seminars, says Amy. A mindset that is embodied by the Professional Development Program at Atlantic General, which encourages and rewards the extra efforts members of the nursing staff make to expand their education and clinical experience.
It is Amy’s personal goal to sit for the certification exam after another required 2000 hours of experience in first assisting. And, three of her co-workers are at various stages of the RN First Assistant certification process themselves.
“It shows we hold ourselves to a higher standard,” says Amy.
It is the hospital’s goal to have all the RNs who work in surgery complete the CNOR certification.
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