Document Type


Original Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

AORN Global Surgical Conference & Expo 2020 / ASPAN's 39th Annual Conference


Presented at Two Conferences:

AORN Global Surgical Conference & Expo 2020

March 28 - April 1, 2020

Anaheim, CA

ASPAN's 39th Annual Conference

April 26-30, 2020

Denver, Colorado

Date of Submission

February 2020


Description of Team: Multidisciplinary team consisting of Nurse Educators, Registered Nurses, Certified Surgical Technologist, Administrative Staff, and a Health Care Partner. This team came together with a common goal of improving morale, breaking out of silos, and ultimately increasing retention throughout Perioperative Surgical Services.

Preparation and Planning: Research was performed previously on retention by Clinical IV Registered Nurse as part of her Master’s in Nursing program thesis. She presented the research to department leaders as a method to improve satisfaction and in turn, increase retention. In April 2018 a mentoring planning workshop was held with team members from each unit within the department and representatives from the management team. The takeaways from the workshop were positive, but all acknowledged there was much work to be done to be successful.

Assessment: The external turnover rates at the time for registered nurses in the department collectively were 16%, higher than the organization average of 12%. Team member morale was low, and the costs of onboarding new employees were increasing. The core team was identified, but patient care responsibilities and other project work often caused barriers for meeting attendance. After many weeks of attempting to move forward but lacking the time and resources, a proposal was developed to consult a professional mentoring company for guidance and structure. This proposal was presented to the Vice President of Perioperative Surgical Services, who was supportive of the plan and obtained the necessary authorizations for funding to move forward.

Implementation: The core team started marketing for the start of the mentorship program and the value of mentorship in September 2018 through individual in-services, team huddles, and staff meetings. Flyers and brochures were also created to spread the word and spark interest. Employees were able to sign-up as interested in being a mentor or a mentee at meetings or by sending an email to a dedicated group email address. To start in our first cohort, participants had to meet a few requirements. Mentors and mentees had to be at least meeting expectations on their last formal review, be able to attend a 4-hour training class, and they needed to complete an online self-assessment. Mentees were paired with their mentors based on their individual goals. Over a two-week period, the core team provided the 4-hour mentor, mentee, and leadership training to all of the participants. The participants included operating room nurses, PACU nurses, surgical technologists, environmental services staff, anesthesia techs, and administrative staff. Over the next year, the core team provided monthly huddles and newsletters and provided helpful reminders and tips over social media. Quarterly surveys were sent to participants to complete anonymously for review by the core team. The answered surveys helped to identify opportunities for improvements and assess satisfaction with the program.

Outcome: Twenty-four pairs were formed initially from the self-assessments in the first cohort. Time constraints and patient care responsibilities prevented a few mentees and mentors from attending the initial and make-up training sessions despite best efforts by the core team, leaving 17 pairs to begin the program. A majority of the mentee and mentor pairs have completed the mentorship program with several success stories that are shared throughout the organization. The team made improvements for cohort two of the program based on the survey feedback of the first cohort participants and further literature research. The most significant change was to the initial 4-hour training course. The length of the class was a barrier to many participants who could not be out of staffing for that long of a time. The program was modified to include a pre-course learning module, which included a learning-style inventory, and was pared down to only two hours of classroom instruction. The mentorship program grew to add team members from another unit and many of the senior leadership staff have signed up themselves to be mentors and mentees. The department has also seen a decrease in external turnover from 16% to 14.57% since implementation.

Implications for Perioperative Nursing: Perioperative Surgical Services is a highly specialized area, and many programs in nursing schools have cut out training and observations for being too specific. Periop is also infamous for being a high-stress environment, having diva surgeons, and being an island by itself within the hospital. Lack of engagement and large numbers of veteran perioperative team members reaching retirement age has caused alarm for many hospitals and surgery centers. Having a formal mentorship program can help to decrease silos within the departments, improves multidisciplinary relationships, and fosters organizational longevity. When asked what being a mentor meant to her, one of our perioperative nurses said: "being able to pass on to another person what was once taught to me as the basics and fundamentals and then being able to watch them grow into excellent perioperative nurses has helped me feel like I have something to give someone".


This diagram is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) License (

Is Part Of

VCU Health Nursing

Included in

Nursing Commons