AORN Blog - The Periop Life


Bringing Perioperative Expertise to COVID-19

A Guest Blog Post by Emily Jones, MSN, RN, CNOR, NPD-BC

AORN Perioperative Practice Specialist


Perioperative Expertise

May 13, 2020

How can we help? This is a sentiment heard more and more often from our perioperative registered nurses as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads throughout our communities affecting hospitals, healthcare systems, and our medical workers in different ways. Changes in surgery schedules, new processes in operating room departments, low-census cancelations, and so many other shared experiences may forever alter the way we work.

Explore your opportunities. Our perioperative registered nurses continue to remain a valuable resource throughout this pandemic. Finding opportunity in the face of adversity is a strength we all share. Though difficult and often distressing, this situation invites all of us to reinvent ourselves and explore new possibilities.

Offer your expertise. Consider how your expertise in sterile technique, teamwork and communication, cross-contamination prevention, donning and doffing of PPE, patient positioning, care prioritization and delegation, and overall patient safety could all be transferable skills in areas outside of the operating room. Perhaps perioperative staff could assist with teaching these valuable skills to others such as with donning and doffing or be part of a team to assist with proning patients as part of the management of acute respiratory distress syndrome related to COVID-19.

Expand your knowledge. Those perioperative registered nurses asked to assist in critical care units may be looking for resources to broaden their knowledge. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) has made their course, ‘COVID-19 Pulmonary, ARDS and Ventilator Resources’, free for all nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes an overview of arterial blood gas interpretation, ventilator management, and caring for patients experiencing respiratory failure. Additionally, their ‘AACN Procedure Manual for High Acuity, Progressive and Critical Care’ is also free during this time.1 Another excellent resource comes from the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM), a collaborative focused on interdisciplinary clinical care for the critical care patient. Their modules for critical care for the non-ICU clinician offer support in a variety of topic areas.2

We can do so much! This is a time to show the strength and resilience of perioperative nurses. Check your local board of nursing for any temporary changes to staffing, training, scope of practice, or licensure guidelines in response to this pandemic. Let’s rise to the challenge and find creative ways to support safe care for all our patients. Thank you for all you do!


  1. American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN). COVID-19 Pulmonary, ARDS and Ventilator Resources. Accessed on April 24, 2020.
  2. The Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM). Critical Care for Non-ICU Clinicians. Accessed on April 24, 2020.

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