From March 24-28, the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) will bring the 2018 edition of their annual Global Surgical Conference & Expo to New Orleans. Jammed with learning sessions, simulation activities, and other dynamic programs, the AORN conference is widely understood to be one of the most important gatherings of healthcare professionals of the year.

With so much happening, advance research is useful to be certain the most is being made of the conference’s many opportunities.

To learn more, Surgical Products went straight to the source, reaching out to AORN.

Attendees have been told to expect more simulation activities at the conference this year. What can you tell us about that?

There are five simulation activities, all sessions are conducted in booths throughout the Exhibit Hall.

  • Fire Safety: Participants will have the opportunity to learn how to extinguish a surgical fire and actually practice the evacuation of a patient from the OR. 
  • Patient Positioning: Participants will practice positioning the patient correctly.
  • Hyperthermia: Back by popular demand is the high fidelity malignant hyperthermia simulation. 
  • Mass Casualty: Using a game board, participants will have the opportunity to experience what has to be considered during a mass casualty event. Patients will be triaged and the injured moved throughout the hospital based on extent of injury. The simulation emphasizes the critical need for an effective communication system.
  • Workplace Safety: This simulation will explore how participants can respond to workplace violence and how to identify changing behaviors that be an alert to a potential problem.

Are there other new learning opportunities attendees should know about?

Each education session provides new practice information or an evidence-based update. There are nine education tracks — Ambulatory, Clinical, Educator, Evidence-Based Practice Research, Infection Control/Prevention, Global, Risk/Quality Management, Leadership & Management, and Professional Development. Between sessions, posters, and the exhibit floor, there are more than 200 available credit hours.

Learning sessions happen throughout the day at the conference. (Image credit: AORN)

With so many attendees, the AORN Global Surgical Conference & Expo is obvious a great place for people to connect. What tools or events are you offering to help facilitate this?

Attendees can begin connecting with other attendees and exhibitors as soon as they register through our conference app. Also on the app, we have digital collaboration boards for nurses to offer solutions to shared challenges. We also offer in-person meet ups, scheduled tours of the posters, and new this year we’ll have attendee-driven group discussions in the Executive Leadership Lounge on hot topics identified by our participants. For new attendees, there is a new attendee orientation that offers connections to new attendees as well as AORN staff and volunteer leadership.

We also have a Young Professionals Meet-Up onsite where they can review the posters and tour the exhibit floor.

AORN is of course committed to wellness is all its forms. What is available for conference attendees to help keep them healthy during the busy week?

This week is also about nurses taking time to re-energize and practice self-care. A variety of fitness classes including Zumba and Yoga and the Steps for Health Challenge — where attendees track how many steps they take during the week. We are also committed to mental wellness. On Saturday, there’s a special workshop on improving resilience, and our general session speakers will offer advice on decreasing stress for better work life balance. Attendee feedback has always told us that they leave the conference with a renewed passion for nursing practice.

There are so many sessions that it can be hard for attendees to get to everything that interests them. What options do you have for people who want to catch up on programs they missed?

New this year, AORN is offering an on-demand streaming service that gives attendees access to recordings of all the concurrent education sessions for up to one month after they return home from the conference.

Of particular value to all attendees is that the exhibit floor hours do not conflict with education sessions. This gives both exhibitors and nurses quality and quantity time to share knowledge about what’s new and important for safe surgical practice.

Anything else you’d like to add?

We’ve created a party atmosphere on the exhibit floor that mirrors all the excitement of New Orleans. There’s live music, great food, and games that drive the attendees through the entire exhibit floor. This is great for the nurses — they won’t miss a thing — and promises exposure for small and large exhibitors, no matter their location.

A version of this article appears in the March/April 2018 issue of Surgical Products.