The Perioperative Nurse Leadership Cooperative

Innovation across multiple disciplines is essential in healthcare because it reduces cost and waste while simultaneously improving the industry. Dr. Peter Nichol, MD, Ph.D., a pediatric surgeon and Medical Director of Surgical Services with the American Family Children’s Hospital and Associate Professor of Surgery with UW-Madison, identified a gap in our healthcare system when it comes to interdisciplinary innovation. He also noticed that surgical team members, primarily nurses, identify areas that need improvement in the operating room processes. The individuals best suited to acknowledge, study, and develop methods to improve such processes are nurses themselves.

Dr. Nichol teamed up with Quinn Mullikin, Ph.D., RN, the Associate Dean of Graduate Nursing Programs, Interim Associate Dean of Undergraduate Nursing and Health Science Programs at the Henry Predolin School of Nursing, Edgewood College, Madison, WI, to create a program that addresses these two issues. The program places Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) students in facilities to address the areas that need improvement within the perioperative processes.

About the Program

The Perioperative Nurse Leadership Cooperative (PNLC) program developed by Dr. Nichol and Dr. Mullikin is a partnership with the Henry Predolin School of Nursing, Edgewood College, initiated by Dr. Nichol. This program aims to develop Edgewood College DNP students into nationally recognized nurse leaders in perioperative settings as they explore the operating room complexities through the science of healthcare delivery. These students will conduct and distribute perioperative studies in peer-reviewed journals and at national and international meetings, preparing them to be nurse scholars.

The Initial Group 

Currently, there are two students working alongside Dr. Nichol. Their primary focus lies on efficiency, beginning with on-time starts and turnover times in the perioperative setting.

The CCI Research Foundation’s Role 

The CCI Research Foundation is the funding partner for this project. Funds are allocated for travel, lodging, dissemination, and publishing of the findings. Disbursements are made through the Edgewood College grants office. The PNLC program benefits DNP students, the facilities they are placed in, and the healthcare community as a whole. The CCI Research Foundation also benefits in numerous ways. The quality assurance projects, research, publications, and presentations generated through the program address the priorities of the CCI Research Foundation and advance our mission to contribute to the science of perioperative nursing practice though research. There is also an opportunity to work with national-level surgical services thoughts leaders and shape the PNLC program in collaboration with Edgewood College and Dr. Nichol.

What the Future Holds

Dr. Nichol and Dr. Mullikin have an abundance of ideas for the direction of this study moving forward. Some discussion topics include discharge practices, anesthesia scheduling, and cost comparison, just to name a few. With continued support, the opportunities for these DNP students and healthcare facilities are endless. 

By pairing DNP students with a hospital and a funding source, like the CCI Research Foundation, we allow the most knowledgeable parties to remedy the issues in operating room methods. These are individuals with first-hand knowledge and an intuitive understanding of how processes should operate. They often have insights into a solution and the ability to solve problems in novel ways that are rarely recognized or supported.