Few U.S. baccalaureate nursing programs prepare graduates for perioperative nursing.
A new University of Tennessee (UT) program to educate nursing students as perioperative nurses makes it one of the few such programs dedicated to that particular specialty, which is experiencing a deep shortage.
The Operating Room Scholars program, developed by the UT Health Science Center’s (UTHSC) College of Nursing, will educate nursing students as perioperative nurses through the college’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. Baptist Memorial Health Care is working with the College of Nursing to develop the curriculum and pilot the program.
Very few baccalaureate nursing programs in the United States prepare graduates for perioperative nursing, according to the AORN Journal.
Undergraduate nursing students’ limited exposure to perioperative content, combined with insufficient interest in the specialty, a growing demand for perioperative nurses, and nurse retirements, have all contributed to the shortage of perioperative nurses, according to the Journal.
Open perioperative nursing positions have increased from 3% in 2012 to 11% in 2021, according to the industry publication OR Today. The OR Scholars program is launching this summer with two students in the inaugural cohort.
UT’s program is designed to help offset the shortage.
"This is an innovative pilot program designed to better prepare new graduates to work in the perioperative areas," said Wendy Likes, PhD, DNSc, APRN-BC, FAANP, dean of the UTHSC College of Nursing. "The program will fill a critical need and has the potential to create a new way of preparing nurses for areas with the most critical shortages."
The program’s developers also expect it to decrease the time new nursing graduates must spend in orientation or residency at hospitals, as well as help increase retention rates of perioperative nurses, according to Likes.
That would be a welcome outcome to Mary Ellen Sumrall, MSN, RN, chief nurse executive of Baptist Memorial Health Care and chief nursing officer for Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis.
"Nursing has evolved into many specialties that require more specific training and focus," Sumrall said. "This pilot program in perioperative nursing could transform how we prepare undergraduate nurses for specialty areas."
The OR Scholars program is open to students in the college’s traditional, four-semester BSN program. Students entering their third semester who meet academic requirements including a minimum 3.0 GPA can be considered for the program. They receive some tuition support from Baptist and agree to work for Baptist as a perioperative nurse for two years after graduation.
Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.
Tennessee's new perioperative nursing program is one of few baccalaureate nursing programs in the U.S. preparing graduates for perioperative nursing.
Open perioperative nursing positions have increased from 3% in 2012 to 11% in 2021.
The program's developers also expect it to decrease the time new nursing graduates must spend in orientation or residency at hospitals.