AORN Exhibit Hall Offers Opportunities for Learning

March 28th, 2012


By , BSN, RN

Last night, with a grand flourish and the mayhem of Mardi Gras the doors to the Association of peri-Operative Registered Nurses (AORN) 59th Congress Exhibit Halls flew open. Thronging nurses were greeted by jesters, mimes, jugglers and stilt walkers as part of the opening festivities.

The AORN exhibition hall is one of the most anticipated events of Congress, and not just for the nurses attending. This is the largest surgical products convention gathering in the United States. Vendors from every company with anything to do with operating room services, tools, instruments, and management are in attendance.

This year, 2012, there are 480 exhibitors. We are talking giants in the medical industries like Johnson & Johnson, ConMed, Wolf, Stryker and Zeiss to name a very few. Health and Safety is represented by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), seven companies want to help you wash your hands and your patients, almost 20 companies want to talk to you about orthopaedics, and there are six different categories of companies representing something to do with computers—from software to scheduling.

It’s all kind of a party atmosphere with lots of type A sales people pitching to cost conscious, “we just want to do what’s best for our patients” nurses, who would really like their hospitals to invest in those great new scrubs with long sleeves. Its exciting and overwhelming and exhausting.

Education Opportunities

But that is not all that the exhibit halls are about. There is a very serious side to all the hoopla. This is a chance to see what new technology has to offer. We can keep our patients warmer. We can better insure long surgeries don’t cause pressure ulcers. We can learn how to clean our instruments better (a topic much in the news lately).

The vendors also offer great chances for education. There are guest experts and short lectures. There are continuing education offerings and credits to be earned towards your next nursing license renewal.

This is also a great time for feedback. Sales representatives and company managers are on hand at the booths to listen. Do you have a concern about a product? Now’s the time to share it. Do you have an idea on how to make a product more user friendly by changing the packaging or the color or the size? Here’s your audience. Do you have a question, comment, or concern about a product? These are the folks to ask.

Employment Opportunities

Another great feature of the exhibit hall are the hospitals, healthcare related companies and other organizations that are looking for employees. This is one of the best reasons for nursing students to join the specialty organization of the area in which they think they would like to work.

There are recruiters everywhere. Do you want to work in a university setting? No problem, university hospitals from across the country send their human resource people hunting at these conventions. Think you want to become a traveling nurse? The big companies are all represented and eager to talk to you about what kinds of contracts and benefits they have to offer. Or how about a career in the armed services? The Army has a hospital tent set up and they are ready to recruit. Or check out the benefits of flying with the U.S. Air Force or sailing away on a Navy hospital ship. They are all looking for few good nurses.

If you have a job you love but want to give of yourself. There are medical mission groups and other volunteer efforts recruiting your skills and your heart to help others.

The exhibit halls are a lot of fun. And there are great giveaways. You may win an iPad or an e-reader. There are free pens and bags and assorted stuffed animals to take home to the kids. That’s all fabulous and fun but there is something else to remember when you go into the hall. While the vendor wants to sell our hospitals or us new, fancy, cutting edge equipment they are also our support system. For most organizations, conventions are expensive and vendors, through their donations, their education offerings and their advertising support allow us to gather with our colleagues and discover all that is new and exciting in our industry.

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