This past year has flown by and it has been an honor to hold the responsibility of serving as the president of your specialty nursing organization, the National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses (NAON). Professional specialty nursing organizations perform a critical function in the development of nurses. Once a nurse has completed formal education, passed the NCLEX and started working, it is up to the professional nursing organization to set standards for specialty care. This includes disseminating information on new developments in patient management and evidence-based practice, as well as facilitating certification. For orthopaedic nurses, NAON fulfills this obligation and keeps us aware of the rapid transformations in our field.
It is fitting that the 39th annual Congress of NAON will be held in the beautiful city of Atlanta, Georgia. Like NAON, Atlanta has seen remarkable change. Atlanta has grown from its beginnings as a railroad terminus, to the major transportation and business hub we see today. NAON draws parallels to Atlanta, as our association is a hub and the leader for professional growth and connection for orthopaedic nurses. NAON has a lot to be proud of as we reflect on our growth, what we have accomplished, and what lies ahead for our fourth decade.
If you have ever seen the classic movie, Gone with the Wind, you are familiar with the depiction of Atlanta during tumultuous times when the film's heroine Scarlet O'Hara grapples with the loss of her beloved home. In the midst of the devastation of war, Scarlett proclaims that she will go home again because “After all, tomorrow is another day.” I have always loved that line because it speaks to looking forward and reminds us that tomorrow represents a new day filled with fresh challenges, possibilities, and opportunities.
What do we do with this new day, with a new challenge, with the promise of a new opportunity? Sometimes the answer seems clear and the path lies before us, yet many times we need little push and it can feel like jumping off a cliff. I faced such a precipice many years ago, when I assumed the position as a new orthopaedic service line manager and realized that this role demanded novel ways of approaching the care of our patients. Picture this: the concept of preoperative education and multimodal pain management was not standard practice, preoperative optimization and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) screening was not universally expected or considered, we may have waited until post-op day one to get patients out of bed and 4-day length of stays after hip and knee arthroplasties were commonplace. Thanks to NAON, the leap into understanding and taking on those hurdles was not a free fall. NAON was a safety net of colleagues and resources to provide guidance and inspiration for moving into new territory.
Being involved in a professional nursing organization may be something that you have considered, yet wondered, “Do I really have what it takes? What can I do that matters?” Here is a gentle push and a hand reaching out to tell you to leave the doubts behind. If I had let those thoughts prevent me from answering the call to be involved, I would not be writing this message to you today. Do not be afraid to make the jump into growing in a new direction.
I chose Keep Moving Forward as the theme for NAON's 39th year. The forward momentum of NAON has been the keystone of my presidency. NAON's mission to advance the specialty of orthopaedic nursing through excellence in research, education, and nursing practice is substantiated by the accomplishments made this year. Here are some of the highlights for 2018-2019:
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
- What NAON has to say is significant and healthcare colleagues seek NAON's opinion. NAON has transformed the structure of our position statements to be user-friendly, timely to issues in practice, and readily available. NAON's Opioid Epidemic Position Statement is the first in this new format and it is published in this issue of Orthopaedic Nursing. Stay tuned, we have others in the pipeline!
- NAON's Best Practice Guidelines for Total Hip Replacement and Total Knee Replacement were published. The Patient Education Manuals for Hip/Knee/Shoulder and Spine surgery were revised using health literacy and patient-centered education principles. We have collaborated with the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) with a link to these resources on the Academy website. We look forward to the opportunity to collaborate with the AAOS in cross-sharing of information in the future.
- The current healthcare and nursing personnel environment is dynamic. NAON has been impacted by the baby-boom bubble, with nurses retiring and moving into other specialties. Despite these shifts in the make-up of our association, over 1300 brand-new members joined NAON. This year we took a fresh approach to make membership more accessible. We structured new membership options and added automatic renewal. Thanks to all on the membership committee who researched NAON member preferences and worked to help map out these changes.
- NAON's most popular offerings remain strong. The power of virtual learning is compelling and over 1000 individuals tuned in to NAON's webinars.
- NAON's endeavor to support certification through the Orthopaedic Nursing Certification Board has resulted in 35 Nursing Review courses hosted around the nation.
- Looking forward, a new level of NAON recognition for programs demonstrating excellence in orthopaedic nursing and patient care outcomes is on the horizon. Further details on this exciting new endeavor will be announced at Congress and on the website.
- NAON is in the room and at the table with other orthopaedic societies as we advocate policy to protect and enhance the quality and access to care for all orthopaedic patients.
At last year's Congress, I echoed these words and raised the challenge that you continue the momentum of what inspired and sparked interest during that very productive week. Now I ask: What have you accomplished in the past year? Perhaps you seized the energy by leading quality improvement or research projects, implementing evidence-based best practices, supporting ONC certification efforts in your organization, or starting journal clubs. These forces push NAON's impact beyond individual professional growth and truly do shape the art and science of orthopaedic care.
The honor of serving as NAON President and working with this brilliant Executive Board and the fine NAON staff at SmithBucklin has been the penultimate highlight of my nursing career. Thanks to all of you for making this year a success. You can and will influence the quality of care being delivered. Keep that momentum going and remember, Scarlett O'Hara was right, “tomorrow is another day” and it is filled with new possibilities!