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Perioperative Nursing Program sets nurses up for success in operating rooms

A woman wears blue scrubs and is standing in a hospital room and smiling.

Nova Scotia Health’s Perioperative Nursing Program (PONP) has wrapped up recruitment for its next offering, with more 40 nurses expected to complete the program by the end of the year.

For nearly thirty-years, the program has been preparing registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) to gain the knowledge and skills they need to join surgical teams across the province. The program helps advance their clinical judgement, thinking, and leadership to meet the dynamic and complex needs of surgery patients.

“I’m a very hands-on person, so I knew I would enjoy perioperative nursing,” said Amber MacDonald, who completed the program in 2008 and works as a perioperative nurse supporting orthopedic surgeries. “In the operating room, everyone works together for the singular purpose of supporting the patient, and I love being a part of the team.”

MacDonald has spent most of her career supporting orthopedic care and even attained her orthopedic technologist license to further complement her scope of practice. She credits the PONP with providing the foundation that informs her daily practice in the operating room.

“I loved the program, and particularly loved the hands-on portion of the course. I’ve worked in orthopedics in some capacity for most of my career and was given a great foundation to work with,” said MacDonald. “The program gave me a good background and familiarity of perioperative nursing through learning general surgery and learning to be aware of everything happening around you. It teaches precision, how to prepare for complex cases, and other important skills that help us support quality safe care for our patients.”

Now well established in her career, MacDonald looks forward to welcoming the next cohort of PONP graduates.

“I like supporting the new nurses coming in and want them to feel like one of the team,” said MacDonald. “When you look at all the different people involved in delivering and supporting surgery, from the surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, medical device reprocessing staff and cleaners, we are integral to the success of the surgery. We can’t do surgeries without one another, and we are all here to help.”

The Perioperative Nursing Program is offered in full time and part time study, with three intake cohorts – September, January, and May. The full-time program is 16 weeks with the part time program running from 29 to 33 weeks combining in class, online, and in-person learning.

Nurses interested in the program are invited to submit expressions of interest (EOI) when enrollment opens, watch for opportunities later this year. To be eligible, nurses must be an actively-practicing registered nurse or licensed practical nurses license with the provincial regulator and have approval from an OR manager within Nova Scotia to confirm a clinical seat and sponsorship for the program. Registered nurses and licensed practical nurses with existing knowledge, skills, and/or experience fundamental to perioperative nursing may qualify to receive credit toward program requirements. Credit must be requested before the start of the program.

Learn more:
•    Click here to visit the Perioperative Nursing Program site.
•    Expanding Nova Scotia Health’s Perioperative Nursing Program to support current and future workforce needs
•    Perioperative Nurses Week – Standing for Patient Safety and Excellence in Surgical Practice

Photo of Amber MacDonald, a perioperative nurse supporting orthopedic surgeries.

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