Perioperative elective introduces OR to students

When Linda Y. Kautzman, RN, MSN, CNOR, clinical staff coordinator for South Georgia Medical Center in Valdosta, GA, returned to Valdosta State University to work on her advanced degree, she saw an excellent opportunity to address the shortage of nursing students who were exposed to perioperative nursing.

While most nursing students only have one to two days to observe in the OR as part of the core curriculum, nursing students do have an opportunity to sign up for elective courses. Kautzman saw an opportunity to offer an elective that focused on perioperative nursing.

She developed the course syllabus that was accepted by the College of Nursing’s curriculum committee. She is helping the college market the course to nurses already in the work force as well as nursing students. Because the course teaches basics such as sterile techniques, wound care, and safe positioning of patients, it is a good course for nurses who may want to move to the operating room from other areas, says Kautzman.

The course is also designed as a distance learning course that will enable students in four locations in South Georgia to continue their education while taking the course.

"We’ve also designed the course to have an optional clinical course to earn extra credits. Students participating in the clinical option will spend three hours one day each week for a total of 45 hours of clinical time during the semester," she adds.

By having the opportunity to work within an operating room during the clinical part of the course, the nursing students have a chance to see what is involved in being a surgical nurse, she explains.

Nurses who are employed can still select the clinical option and can design their clinical time in blocks of eight- or 12-hour shifts, says Kautzman. "This makes it easier for the nurse to get the clinical experience while still working his or her regular job," she says.

Kautzman is helping to teach the course, and her hospital is serving as a site for the clinical experience in addition to continuing to offer internships to nursing students who want extra operating room experience prior to graduation. (For information on how to contact Kautzman, see source box, p. 30.)