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College of Nursing Collaborates with Baptist Memorial Health Care on OR Nursing Program


The University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Nursing has developed an Operating Room Scholars program to educate nursing students as perioperative nurses through the college’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. Baptist Memorial Health Care is working with the UTHSC College of Nursing to develop the curriculum and pilot the program.

Dean Wendy Likes

The program is designed to help address the shortage of perioperative nurses. A perioperative nurse fulfills nursing roles before, during, and after a patient’s surgical procedures. Like many nursing specialties, perioperative nursing has been affected by an overall nursing shortage. Open perioperative nursing positions have increased from 3% in 2012 to 11% in 2021, according to the industry publication OR Today. The OR Scholars program is launching this summer with two students in the inaugural cohort.

“This is an innovative pilot program designed to better prepare new graduates to work in the perioperative areas,” said UTHSC College of Nursing Dean Wendy Likes, PhD, DNSc, APRN-BC, FAANP. “The program will fill a critical need and has the potential to create a new way of preparing nurses for areas with the most critical shortages. We hope it will also decrease the time new nursing graduates must spend in orientation or residency at hospitals and assist in the retention of perioperative nurses.”

Mary Ellen Sumrall

Mary Ellen Sumrall, MSN, RN, is the chief nurse executive of Baptist Memorial Health Care and chief nursing officer for Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis. “With 22 hospitals in three states, we are always looking for innovative ways to transform and advance nursing practice and education models,” she said. “Nursing has evolved into many specialties that require more specific training and focus. This pilot program in perioperative nursing could transform how we prepare undergraduate nurses for specialty areas.”

The OR Scholars program is open to students in the college’s traditional, four-semester BSN program. Students entering their third semester who meet academic requirements including a minimum 3.0 GPA can be considered for the program. The student receives some tuition support from Baptist and agrees to work for Baptist as a perioperative nurse for two years after graduation. During the program, the students will complete PeriOp 101 modules to learn more about perioperative nursing and will complete a minimum of three inter-professional simulations in the perioperative environments. To be considered, a student must be in good standing in the BSN program and complete an interview with the college and the hospital.