Victoria Steelman

Q&A with Victoria Steelman

February 26, 2015
by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor
HealthCare Business News spoke with AORN president, Dr. Victoria Steelman, to get updates about the association and about the status of perioperative registered nurses.

HCBN: How did you get involved in the health care sector and with AORN?
I’ve always wanted to help people and I get a lot of satisfaction out of doing that. It has pretty much been a lifelong passion. My background is probably unique — I started working in the OR as a technician. I worked with excellent nurses and I noticed the very best nurses belonged to AORN. So wanting to be just like them meant that as soon as I finished nursing school, I wanted to join.

HCBN: What are the biggest challenges facing your membership today?

I think that the greatest challenge for our members is being pressed to do more with less in the clinical practice setting, and there are expectations in evidence-based clinical practice. When it comes to doing more with less, there’s tension because it takes time to evaluate findings and then to implement them. Recognizing that, AORN has developed the resources to help clinicians implement these solutions.

HCBN: What has been the biggest news for the association or even nursing as a whole over the past 12 months?

There are two things. The first is the Center for Nursing Leadership. We created that based on clear communications back from our members on what managers and nurse executives needed to be successful. The second is that our clinical practice guidelines are being accepted into AHRQ’s National Guideline Clearinghouse. Last week, AHRQ asked permission to showcase the methods used by AORN to develop the guidelines in order to share that knowledge with others. We’re very proud to have the guidelines included in the National Guideline Clearinghouse.

HCBN: A few years ago, there was concern that there was a nursing shortage. Where do things stand now and where do you believe they’ll be in 10 years?

The nursing shortage is spotty — in some places there’s actually a surplus, so new nurses are finding they may need to relocate to find a good match. However, we do have an aging workforce, so we have to make sure we have enough professionals to fill the gap. We definitely want new nurses to go into perioperative nursing because we want a sustainable workforce that’s adequately prepared. AORN actually has an online orientation program that’s very popular in that respect.

HCBN: More professionals seem to be realizing the value of input from nurses. Dr. Atul Gawande talked about it quite a bit in his book, The Checklist Manifesto. Is it a reality that doctors are taking heed more or is it more wishful thinking at the moment?

I am very optimistic about this — at the national level, the teamwork has really improved in the last five years, with ongoing interdisciplinary collaboration. At the hospital level, most facilities are using a program called TeamSTEPPS — it teaches teamwork and communication and most hospitals are using that model. At the local level, I think effective collaboration is still a work-in-progress. Some places are very good, while others are struggling but still improving.

HCBN: Do you believe the nurse of 2025 will be very similar to the nurse of 2015 or will there be significant changes to skill sets and knowledge?

We can expect significant changes in the skill sets and knowledge required. If you look at the Institute of Medicine report, it’s very clear that education will be essential in taking care of the patient of the future. One change that is already occurring — nurses need to be very digitally savvy. They’ll need to extract the information from those systems and then focus on ways to improve care. Nurses will also have to focus on evidence-based practice and quality improvement much more than they had to in the past. For education, the Institute of Medicine recommends nurse residency programs. Those programs are turning out very strong nurses. It really is new, and my experience with it is that it’s incredibly powerful. Nurses coming out of the residency programs