Catching Up With Vangie Dennis, AORN 2022-2023 President at AORN 2024


Infection Control Today (ICT) had the privilege of catching up with Vangie Dennis, MSN, RN, CNOR, CMLSO, at the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses' (AORN’s) International Surgical Conference & Expo 2024. As the former president of AORN and an esteemed figure in perioperative services, Vangie Dennis shared insights into her recent endeavors and the exciting new chapter she's embarked upon.

Vangie Dennis, MSN, RN, CNOR, CMLSO

Vangie Dennis, MSN, RN, CNOR, CMLSO

One highlight for Infection Control Today® (ICT®) of the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses' (AORN’s) International Surgical Conference & Expo 2024 is connecting with Vangie Dennis, MSN, RN, CNOR, CMLSO, AT AORN 2024, the AORN president for 2022-2023 and assistant vice president of perioperative services for AnMed. What has she been up to? Read on to find out.

ICT: Please tell me what you most look forward to about the AORN conference this year.

Vangie Dennis, MSN, RN, CNOR, CMLSO: As the President of National AORN 2022-23, it was an honor and a journey from being on the Board of Directors to being the treasurer and becoming the National President for my professional organization. Over the last 11 years, working with the national organization and our members has been so impactful on who I am as a person. This year my obligations with AORN are serving as an advisor for the AORN nominating committee. The nominating committee is charged with selecting nominated members from the membership who would qualify and be placed on the national ballot to run for the Nominating Committee, Board of Directors, and the Officers. Being an advisor has been fun, as I have observed the committee vet and assessed members who can take the organization to the next level if elected. For many this may be their first step into national positions. My role was to help advise the committee on qualifications and guidance on the selection of candidates. Serving this year has been more low-key in the sense that I can watch the growth of the committee members in their own personal journeys, whereas, on the other hand, this was still a fast-paced Expo. At the AORN National Expo and Conference, it is a time to reconnect and network. Being the recent past president, I was still new to my tenure as president.

Personally, over the next year, I see myself redefining or repurposing myself. 2022-2023 was very busy with my job and obligations to AORN, which will always be a part of me. I now see myself looking ahead with a new role in making a difference with patients and other nurses.

ICT: Tell me about your new adventure.

Vangie Dennis, MSN, RN, CNOR, CMLSO

Vangie Dennis, MSN, RN, CNOR, CMLSO

VD: I have been consulting for almost 40 years, with most of my consultations being with energy sources, specifically lasers. My relationship with facilities, the Laser Institute of America, Canadian Laser Safety, and AORN have kept me pretty busy. My skill mix goes beyond clinical energy sources. I have now partnered with two amazing colleagues. Lilian Nicholette and Ruth Shumaker. Together, we bring a trifecta of experience that can help our colleagues and hospitals with a range of services. Lillian is a past president of the CCI, our credentialing body, and Ruth is also a past president of AORN, and we all bring different strengths to the table. I'm a teacher and Assistant Vice President for the operations of multiple services within perioperative practice. Lilian has business talents as she has worked in a corporate environment for many different companies.

As mentioned, Ruth is a past president of AORN and was an Executive Director at a level-one trauma center. We all reconnected together and felt we could be a powerhouse of information. There are so many opportunities to help nurses and hospitals. Just recently, I was at a system to help assess the increase in infections among spine patients. You come in with a different set of eyes and perspective. Another example of our skill mix is Ruth and Lillian, who have an extensive background in sterile processing and can help in a critical area of perioperative services. So, the journey and opportunities began. Over the last six months, we have developed a website and begun marketing our skills. Here at the AORN conference, there have been a multitude of opportunities for our newly found service. Cumulatively, we probably have over 100 years of experience.

Vangie Dennis, MSN, RN, CNOR, CMLSO, and Tori Whitacre Martonicz, senior editor of Infection Control Today.

Vangie Dennis, MSN, RN, CNOR, CMLSO, and Tori Whitacre Martonicz, senior editor of Infection Control Today.

ICT: That's incredible. So, what message do you want to give everyone here in AORN and also at home who is waiting to find out what's happening?

VD: What I would say to my peers is to embrace the passion of who you are. I will always be a nurse, and I will always be hard-wired for that passion to carry out nursing. I don't think nurses ever retire; we redefine and repurpose ourselves. There are 5 generations of nurses in the workforce and here at our association's meeting. Nursing is lifelong learning; we should continually expect to grow, learn, and change. Health care is transitioning rapidly, and we all need to get on board. Embrace your opportunities to continually learn, whether through virtual online education, live education, networking with other systems, or reconnecting with friends.

ICT: What final words do you want to give ICT’s audience today?

VD: I am sharing with you my philosophy in life: the number one reason for success is our relationships. Our connections help us grow and make us who we are, and we can make a difference in someone else’s journey. Whatever I have given, I have received tenfold back. Personally, this has supported me in my career, and so many great nurses have made a difference in my journey.

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