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How DEI Efforts can Strengthen Perioperative Workforce

October 13, 2022


How DEI Efforts can Strengthen Perioperative Workforce

In collaboration with the Competency and Credentialing Institute (CCI), Whitman Partners is moderating two pre-conference workshops at the OR Manager Conference this weekend, October 16, in Denver, CO. This article, also published in OR Today Magazine, discusses how diversifying the perioperative workforce can address the already deteriorating accession pipeline. 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives in places of business, both public and private, are not new. It began with the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s and has since been evolving to encompass other underrepresented groups. The advantages of diversifying a workforce are indisputable, particularly in perioperative nursing, where the accession pipeline has been deteriorating for years even pre-COVID.  

A robust weight of data shows that perioperative nursing, like many professions, is sorely lacking in diversity. In a 2019 job analysis survey for CNOR certification conducted by The Competency and Credentialing Institute (CCI), the largest cohort of perioperative nurses are between the ages of 46-55. Among the CNOR test takers, 58% were white, 19% Asian, 6% Hispanic/Latino, and 6% African American/Black.  

The Journal of Nursing Regulation’s 2020 National Nursing Workforce Survey tells the same story. The median age for RNs is 52 (with one-fifth of respondents saying they plan to retire within the next five years), 9.4% are men, 0.1% identified as neither male nor female, and 19.2% minority. Eighty-one percent are white. 

Another issue is the availability of pre-licensure education courses which are meager for aspiring nursing students living in rural areas. For example, a Denver, CO resident will have multiple programs with a concentration in perioperative nursing or a senior practicum in the OR from which to choose. A rural Colorado resident will likely have one option: a local community college with a small number of nursing faculty. It is likely that few of these instructors will have perioperative experience. In addition, most perioperative courses are offered as senior practicums, and almost all are in BSN programs. A pre-licensure student from a rural area may never have meaningful clinical experience in perioperative nursing.  

It’s now more important than ever for DEI initiatives to not just tick a box but begin moving the needle and making gains to diversify the nursing pipeline. 

CCI Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Awards Program

Due to the increase in retiring perioperative nurses it has become an increasing challenge to staff ORs adequately. The CCI Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Awards Program was created to help fill these gaps.  

Goals include increasing access to resources at under-resourced and under-represented facilities, promoting early engagement between CCI and aspiring nurses, boosting the number of nurses at rural hospitals, and improving the quality of perioperative training at rural facilities. The program comprises individual awards, facility awards, and community outreach. For a complete program overview, click here.  

Whitman Partners: Panel on Diversity and Inclusion

Whitman Partners is a national leader in permanent placements, interim assignments, and survey-preparedness consulting for Surgical Services. The firm serves level 1 trauma centers, large academic medical facilities, physician-owned ASCs, and hospitals in urban and rural areas. 

The firm moderated a panel, “The Inclusive OR: Roles and Goals for Creating a Diverse Team,” at the 2021 OR Manager Conference in Chicago and the OR Business Manager Conference in San Diego. In conjunction with the panel, Whitman Partners released a report, Diversity Hiring in Healthcare 2021. 

In addition, Whitman Partners highlights leaders from diverse backgrounds with their annual “BIPOC Perioperative Leaders to Know,” one of their Awards and Recognition Programs.  

CCI and Whitman Partners Collaboration 

CCI is organizing the pre-conference workshops, “DEI Initiatives for Perioperative Nursing Workforce Development” at the 2022 OR Manager Conference in Denver on October 16. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., attendees will have an interactive day of information gathering in the form of panels, roundtable discussions, lectures, and breakout sessions. Areas of OR diversity for discussion will include ageism, BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and military background. Go here to learn more.  

ReferencesThe 2020 National Nursing Workforce Survey

Carisa Brewster, Staff Writer, Whitman Partners

James X Stobinski, Ph.D., RN, CNOR, CNAMB, CSSM(E), CEO, Competency and Credentialing Institute (CCI)