The AORN Expo and Surgical Conference is an event that I have attended for the past 41 years. This, my 42nd year the conference was canceled due to an invisible-to-the-human-eye virus called coronavirus. Our president and friend, Missi Merlino, led our Board of Directors to a difficult decision with the grace of a true leader.
The 40,000 organization members have rallied behind the call to support this complicated decision about a conference that was to have taken place in Anaheim, CA. The conference brings significant income to the organization and pulls together perioperative registered nurses from around the world into one location to celebrate one another and what the perioperative RN means to patient care and patient safety.
The conference is also the celebration of the achievements of the President and the Board's activities throughout the year on behalf of the members. This celebration is where 10,000+ nurses, vendors, AORN staff, and those who foster the perioperative nursing mission and goals gather. The decision to cancel cannot have been easy for our Board as this effects the organization on a grand scale as well as effecting the individuals in Anaheim who house and feed the masses, the convention center staff, the transportation people, and all of those who are the behind the scenes who make this event seem effortless to those in attendance, like me.
However, this blog is not about the loss experienced, it is about a celebration. My belief is that our leaders made a tough decision, and decisions are always about choice. We will look back in retrospect and decide if the choice was wise, but we cannot know the future; we know only today. In the present, that choice although extremely difficult, took into consideration a myriad of facts focusing first on the safety of the nurses who care for patients.
What we can do now is make the choice of how to celebrate and start this year from this conference time to the next, using technology to our advantage. Making online environments for engagement the new order of face-to-face for the purpose of experiencing the networking that comes from that one-time-a-year environment. Each one of us can find that one way to add to the celebration of perioperative nursing in a time of tough decisions.
Decisions are always about choice based on facts as we know them at that moment in time. My belief is that when we face those challenging moments, we make decisions without regrets, face forward, and celebrate the year like we've never done before. We find new ways to experience the camaraderie and nuance of caring nurses in different ways. What way will you bring to the table of this new adventure to virtually celebrate together?
I recently watched the TV series, Being Erica, a fascinating experience and personal one in ways I had not anticipated. The TV series is fun and light, yet it reached into the depths of my soul as I watched the character Erica experiencing life. In one of the episodes, she learns that she may not live into her 40s. Would we face that knowledge with the experience of loss or live the remaining life without regret. Erica had the opportunity to engage fully by going back in time to fix a few of her regrets. However, in real life we may not have that opportunity. We can act today! We can choose action that allows us to move forward with life without regrets and hope for the future.
Hope allows us to find new directions never encountered, turning alternative networking into something that sheds light on the proverbial cabin fever caused by the self-distancing occurring because of Covid-19. Safety does not mean isolation it means continuing to learn and relearn how to be mindful caring people. Finding ways to pay-it-forward instead of buying out the stores causing potential harm and distrust.
Last night my niece and her daughter called me using Face Time. My little three-year-old great niece called me by name as if testing the name, my name, on her tongue. Sounding it aloud to taste the flavor of something different for her. Of course it thrilled my soul to hear her say my name and made me feel that there is significant hope and reason for hope for our tomorrows.
With each new encounter when we bring joy to someone else, either virtual or via some new and creative means, we bring hope. Hope is what all of us need right now. What is your next decision? Will you make it with the grace of our AORN President Merlino? Will you find the means to touch another’s life generating new hope for tomorrow?
Take every moment that you have; share it with someone else whether it is electronically or in a letter, a forgotten means of communicating but often real and heartfelt. Tell a person how much you love them. Share every opportunity; take moments to celebrate life; let others know how much you care.
To all the Nurseketeers, best wishes in tough times.