Amelia Lavides and Mary Luu are the first two succesful LPNs to join Richmond's OR team.
When Amelia Lavides and Mary Luu first graduated as Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN), they never imagined that one day, they'd be working in the operating room (OR). But today, thanks to a pilot project that began at Richmond Hospital, they're putting their nursing skills to use in a different capacity as the first LPNs to join Vancouver Coastal Health's OR team.
“OR nursing is completely different from ward nursing—it's learning a whole new nursing skill," says Amelia who had previously worked at VGH. “Learning the instruments, the different surgeries, the surgeon's preferences—the work is more technical but I'm really enjoying it so far."
After a month of full-time classroom training, the LPNs partook in simulations and preceptorships to solidify their learnings and skills to scrub and circulate in the OR. And while Amelia and Mary both agree it was a lot of work, the opportunity to take advantage of free training and an expanded scope of practice was something they couldn't pass up.
“I always had a curiosity to work in the OR—to see the middle part of a patient's journey," says Mary. “It's still patient care, just in a different way. It's our job to make sure you have everything in the room for the care so things run smoothly," she says.
While the training may have been a bit more rigorous than they expected, it was all worth it in the end, and their learnings from the pilot will now help shape the program for future LPNs going down the same path.
“I was a little nervous because we were working with coworkers who had never worked with LPNs in the OR before. So, there was a lot of communication with everyone as we all tried to figure things out and learn together," says Amelia.
Manager of Surgical Services, Bhal Randhawa, says having LPNs join the Richmond OR has been a great addition to the perioperative team at Richmond Hospital.
“Change isn't always easy and adding LPNs to our staffing mix in the OR is no exception," he says. “But we couldn't have asked for two better LPNs to have gone through this pilot program. Amelia and Mary are dedicated, open to feedback, and fully embraced the challenge of being the first LPNs to come into the OR. They've been a great addition to the team."
As for Amelia and Mary's advice for other LPNs considering joining the OR?
“Go for it, even if you're fearful. There were a lot of things that I wasn't sure about, but you have take that leap of faith," Mary says, adding that it's nice to see more support from the organization for LPNs and their scope of practice. “It's nice to know we can do more with our careers—we don't just have to do one thing—and we feel supported to use our skills in different ways."
“There's a light at the end of the tunnel," says Amelia. “One month of hard work is worth it!"