Perioperative Nurse Residency Program Tackles Nursing Shortage

Greenwich Hospital Perioperative Nurse Residency Program graduates (center) Roann Paligutan, RN, Leigh Shainwald, RN, Liz Vitale, RN and Lee Toterhi, RN flanked by (l-r) Anna Cerra, RN, DNP, chief nursing officer; Marie Pham, RN, CNOR, operating room manager; Rey De La Cruz, RN, CNOR, education specialist; Sue Brown, RN, executive vice president, Operations; and Melissa Turner, senior vice president, Human Resources. Missing from the graduation ceremony was Tanja McCullough, RN.

Greenwich Hospital has graduated the first cohort of its Perioperative Nurse Residency Program, an in-house initiative created to address a national shortage of operating room nurses.

“The 12-month program provides education and clinical skills to help nurses launch a successful career in the perioperative arena,” said Rey De La Cruz, RN, CNOR, the program’s instructor. Perioperative refers to all phases of surgery, including preoperative, intraoperative (operating room) and postoperative (recovery).

The first cohort included five Greenwich Hospital nurses with one to two years of nursing experience. The residency training includes classroom lectures, laboratory and skills validation, and clinical rotation with a preceptor of all surgical specialties, including general surgery, gynecology, urology, orthopedics, and ear, nose and throat.

Despite active recruitment efforts, finding experienced operating room nurses to fill staffing gaps has been challenging throughout the years.

“What better way to solve our staffing needs than to recruit and train our own operating room nurses,” said De La Cruz. “The residency program also provides our nurses with opportunities to advance their careers.”

Experts blame the national perioperative nursing shortage on the lack of specialized perioperative training for nurses during their clinical rotations, combined with the retirement or pending retirement of nurses in their 50s and 60s.

Greenwich Hospital is now accepting applications for a second cohort.

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