Susan P. Andrews, DNP, RN, CPN

Instructor, Vanderbilt University School of Nursing

Dr. Susan Andrews holds a Doctorate of Nursing Practice in Administration and Leadership and is currently an Instructor of Nursing at Vanderbilt School of Nursing where she teaches in the Prespecialty level. She has over 30 years nursing experience and has held positions in clinical practice, management, academic and nursing education. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau
International Honor Society of Nursing and Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society. She is currently a board member as the academic educator representative for the Institute for Pediatric Nursing. Her expertise and scholarship are in the areas of leadership, quality improvement, pediatric nursing, and global health.

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Deborah Austin, RN, BSN  

MA Health Department, Coordinator, Health Careers High School

Deborah Austin’s professional nursing experience includes 17 years  in a variety of  fields and teaching at the community college level. She has taught for the past 28 years at Health Careers High School where she organized and implemented an innovative sterile processing certification program, in conjunction with  local hospitals, for high school students.

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Weston “Hank” Balch, CRCST, CER, CIS, CHL

Founder and CEO of iSterile

W. Hank Balch is the Founder and CEO of iSterile, a next generation Sterile Processing consulting firm with focus on operational improvement, accreditation survey preparedness, interim-leadership placement, and brand consulting for CS/SPD vendors. He is also the Co-Founder & Host of the Beyond Clean Podcast, a weekly international podcast discussing industry topics with the biggest names in Sterile Processing. You can find over 100 Sterile Processing articles and commentary on his Linkedin page, along with published articles in Becker's Hospital Review, Infection Control Today, AAMI News, AAMI BI&T Journal, Outpatient Surgery Magazine, and contributions to Healthcare Purchasing News. Hank's CS/SPD team in Louisville, KY was named the "2016 CS/SPD Department of the Year" by HPN, he's served as the President of the South Texas Association of Sterile Processing Services and President of the Kentuckiana IAHCSMM Chapter, and was nominated for the 2017 President-Elect & 2018 President-Elect of the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management.

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Zee Barreras, BSN, RN, CNOR

Surgical Services Clinical Educator, Tucson Medical Center

Zee Barrerasis the surgical services clinical educator for Tucson Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona. She has more than 20 years of experience in surgery, education and supervision. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree at Liberty University. She is an author, speaker and published poet who enjoys reading, hiking, running and volunteering.

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Dr. Tom Blasco, MD, MS
Medical Director, Surgical Directions
   Dr. Tom Blasco is a practicing, board-certified anesthesiologist/intensivist and a medical director with Surgical Directions. He also serves as the medical director at the Illinois Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Surgery Center (ISMOSC). Dr. Blasco works extensively with hospital surgical and procedural departments to improve financial performance, operational efficiency and organizational effectiveness.
   Previously, Dr. Blasco served as vice chairman of anesthesiology at Parkside Anesthesia in Chicago. He has been instrumental in the development of several free-standing, physician-owned outpatient surgery centers, including the Chicago Prostate Cancer Center and the Illinois Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Surgery Center. He has held academic positions at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.

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Vangie Dennis, MSN(c),

Executive Director of Surgical Services, WellStar Health System, Atlanta Medical Center Downtown & Atanta Medical Center South

Vangie Dennis is the executive director of WellStar Atlanta Medical Center and Atlanta Medical Center South located in the metropolitan area of Atlanta. Dennis is on the board of directors for the Laser Institute of America, the chair for the National Certification on Lasers, board of directors for AORN National, president of the NW AORN Chapter, treasurer for the Georgia Council of Nurses and committee representative for the American National Standards Institute. She is a recipient named in Strathmore’s Who’s Who, the recipient of the 1996 Nursing Excellence Award from the American Society for Lasers in Medicine and Surgery. She was awarded the 2011 R. James Rockwell Jr. Educational Achievement Award and the 2011 AORN Award for Outstanding Achievement in Perioperative Clinical Nursing Education. Dennis is a member of Emory Alpha Epsilon Chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.

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William Duffy, RN, MJ,

Director Health System Management MSN Program, Director for the Health Systems Management, Loyola University

William Duffy is currently the director for the health systems management master of science in nursing program at Loyola University of Chicago’s Marcella Neihoff School of Nursing. Duffy is a nurse executive with over 30 years of leadership experience as a Magnet chief nursing officer and director of perioperative services.
   Duffy has authored numerous articles and presented nationally and internationally on health law, leadership, patient safety and patient satisfaction topics. He is a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN) and is a past president of the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN). During his term as president, he led the association’s effort to reduce wrong site surgery through the introduction of the timeout toolkit that was adopted across the globe.

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Rodrigo Garcia, RN,

Chief Nurse Anesthetist, Parkdale Center for Professionals

Rodrigo Garcia is a co-founder and CEO of Parkdale Center for Professionals. He has been a direct care provider in the health care field for more than 20 years. He has experience in emergency management, intensive care, surgical services and anesthesia. He has also emerged successfully from a battle with the disease of addiction.
   He is currently a member of the Indiana Office of the Attorney General task force; a delegate to the National Safety Council, and has held faculty positions at Evanston Northwestern School of Anesthesia, Ivy Technical Community College-Nursing Department and Valparaiso University School of Nursing.
   He has educated thousands of families, state employees, individuals, employers and professional organizations on the addicted HAP and how this person affects every aspect of society.

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Lee Hedman

Executive Vice President, Surgical Directions

Lee Hedman’s health care and consulting experiences are showcased in her leadership of over 350+ complex perioperative and anesthesia service assessments and implementation engagements. Throughout her career, her collaborative management of operating room transformations has yielded significant increases in surgical growth and millions of dollars in hospital profits. Hedman leads the anesthesia revenue cycle consulting division where she has successfully worked with physician practices to improve revenue cycle processes and improve financial performance while transforming the anesthesia practice to perform as a business entity and invaluable partner with the hospital. Surgical Directions’ interim staffing business line is also managed by her, supporting current client staffing voids including OR director, educator and sterile processing management.

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Gregory Hickman, MD 

Gregory V. Hickman, MD, FASA, Medical Director/Anesthesia Director, Andrews Institute ASC

  Dr. Hickman is a board-licensed anesthesiologist, licensed in the states of Alabama, Tennessee and Florida and certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology and the American Academy of Pain Management. He belongs to the American Society of Anesthesiologists, the American Society of Regional Anesthesia, and the American Academy of Pain Management.

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Chuck Hughes 

Medical Device Reprocessing Consultant, Highpower Validation & Testing Laboratories Inc.

Certified as a health education teacher, Chuck Hughes has worked for over 30 years in the manufacturing industry in areas of regulatory affairs, marketing, research & development, microbiology and sterilization training. He’s been a corporate member of AORN, AST, IAHCSMM, SGNA and numerous other organizations, including AAMI and CSA where he contributed to writing medical device reprocessing standards. A popular speaker at regional, national and international health care conferences, Hughes has visited thousands of health care facilities during his career providing continuing educational training and mock surveys of medical device reprocessing areas.   


Kris Jackson, MSN, RN, APRN, AGCNS-BC, RN-BC

Clinical Nurse Specialist for Heart, Lung, Vascular Institute at The University of Tennessee Medical Center, Knoxville, Tennessee

Kris began working in the world of cardiology in 1991 and realized it was her passion. In 1993, she began her career at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in the Coronary Care Unit caring for critically ill medical and interventional cardiology patients. After ten years she transferred to the Cardiovascular Lab with care focusing on acute interventional cardiac patients as well as electrophysiology and structural heart. While working in the Cardiovascular Lab she obtained her BSN from East Tennessee State University in 2012. She continued her graduate education at the University of Tennessee. In 2013, she accepted a nurse specialist position at UTMC covering the areas of Cardiovascular Lab, Cardiovascular Recovery, Acute Care Medical and Interventional Cardiology and Cardiopulmonary Rehab. She completed her MSN in Adult Health from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 2014. She is currently licensed as an APRN board certified adult-gerontology clinical nurse specialist (AGCNS-BC). She has a cardiac-vascular certification (RN-BC) from ANCC. She recently completed her twenty-fourth year at UTMC. She is currently completing coursework in the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program at the University of Tennessee. Kris is a Daisy Award winner at UTMC and a member of the ANA, TNA, and Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.


Pam Jones, DNP, RN, NEA-BC

Associate Professor, Senior Associate Dean, Clinical and Community Partnerships, Vanderbilt School of Nursing

Dr. Jones holds a Doctorate of Nursing Practice and is currently an Associate
Professor at Vanderbilt School of Nursing serving as Senior Associate Dean for Clinical and Community Partnerships Her expertise and scholarship are in the areas of leadership, operational finance, business operations and APRN practice models. Prior to this appointment; Dr. Jones was the Chief Nursing Officer and Associate Hospital Director – Patient Care Services at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center for 6 years. She has over 30 years of progressive leadership experience in academic, community, for-profit and faith-based organizations including the positions of Chief Nursing Officer, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Executive Officer. Dr. Jones was also a Johnson and Johnson/Wharton Fellow in Management for Nurse Executives in 2011. During her career, she has developed significant expertise in development and sustainability of APRN practices and her doctoral scholarly project was on structural empowerment of nurse practitioner in the inpatient setting. Dr. Jones recently received the AANP Advocate State Award for Excellence for Tennessee for her work in support of APRN practice.

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Sharon McNamara, RN

Perioperative Consultant, OR Dx+Rx Solutions for Surgical Safety

Sharon A. McNamara, RN, BSN, MS, CNOR, is an internationally recognized speaker and consultant on perioperative practice. McNamara is an owner and consultant for OR Dx+Rx Solutions for Surgical Safety consulting firm, coordinator of a patient safety column for the AORN Journal and collaborative coach for the North Carolina Quality Center.

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Elbridge Merritt, MSN,

Clinical Nurse, Officer in Charge of the Operating Room, San Antonio Military Medical Center

Elbridge “Eb” Merritt is the clinical nurse, officer in charge of the operating room at San Antonio Military Medical Center. He is a certified perioperative nurse, is a CRCST, CIS, and has a CHL from IAHCSMM. He is a member of IAHCSMM, AORN, AAMI and Sigma Theta Tau International. Merritt has held a variety of positions in perioperative nursing in the U.S. Army, in both fixed and field units, in the operating room, sterile processing departments and infection prevention and control. He has co-authored multiple articles on sterile processing and authored a book chapter on infectious disease in a perioperative safety textbook. 

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Thomas Overbey, CCSVP

Marketing Director, Ultra Clean Systems

Thomas Overbey’s experience originated as media producer at the University of South Florida, College of Medicine, producing content for medical research and education. Overbey has generated live and on-demand surgical procedures for peer-to-peer training and produced the first live surgical case over the iPhone.
   For the past five years, Overbey has served as the marketing director for Ultra Clean Systems promoting safe cleaning practices and serves as an advocate for connecting the OR to the SPD for maximum operational efficiency.

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Karen Rowan, MSN, RN,

System Nurse Educator, Northwell Health

Karen Rowan MSN, RN, CNOR is currently a system perioperative educator for Northwell Health System in New York. Rowan’s responsibilities include the orientation education for RNs, CSTs and PAs entering perioperative services and the perioperative RN fellowship program.

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Kimberly Smith, RN, MS,

U.S. Army, Colonel

Kimberly Smith graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. She received a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army and began her perioperative nursing career at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas serving as a staff nurse there and at the Army medical center in Germany. After obtaining a masters’ degree in perioperative nursing in 1999 from the University of Connecticut, she served in numerous perioperative leadership positions in organizations ranging from small military teams geared toward austere conditions to director of perioperative services at several of the army’s largest military medical centers. Her final assignment was as director, perioperative services, Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.
   She retired from the army in January 2017 with almost 30 years of service. She is now an independent consultant for sterile processing.

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Deborah Spratt, RN 

Director Perioperative Services, St. James Mercy Hospital

Deborah Spratt, MPA, BSN, RN, CNOR, NEA-BC, CRCST, CHL, is currently the director of surgical services at United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia, New York. She was previously the manager of sterile processing at the Canandaigua VAMC in Canandaigua, New York. She has also held staff, manager and director roles in perioperative services at a university teaching hospital, community hospital and an ASC. She contributed to the AORN publications “Ambulatory Surgery Principles and Practices,” and “Leadership in Action – A Manager’s Guide to Success.” She is one of several authors of the book “Operating Room Management.” Spratt has testified as an expert witness in the areas of ambulatory/office-based surgery and OR nursing practice and was a member of the New York State Department of Health’s Committee on Quality Assurance in Office Based Surgery and the Procedural and Site Verification Panel. Spratt is a member of AONE, ANA, IAHCSMM and Sigma Theta Tau. She served as AORN president 2012-2013. 

Constance Squibb, RN

Strategic Program Manager, Medtronic Transformative Solutions

Constance Squibb brings her years of experience as a nurse, hospital administrator and author together with her passion for new program development and blood management to you in a way that “just makes sense.” With a master’s degree in public administration, Squibb has the formal education to understand theory coupled with everyday experience to make it work. Throughout her career, she has taken ideas and formulated strong viable programs and the creation of a blood management program. At a 630-bed faith-based health system with a full array of services, Squibb worked to reduce transfusions in the orthopedic product line to zero. She has gone on to present two poster presentations on the topic and to work with some of the country’s top health systems, including Johns Hopkins.

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David Taylor, MSN, RN,

President, Resolute Advisory Group, LLC

David Taylor has been providing services to clients with various nursing, perioperative, ancillary service line and business development needs across the United States for over 30 years. His areas of expertise include services that improve operational and clinical efficiencies, while helping organizations function more effectively to improve their market position.
   His particular area of specialty lies in the operational improvement of surgical services and central sterile and sterile processing departments (CS/SPD). Using a focused approach of best practice assessment, inter-professional collaboration and team-based solution development, He consistently assists in developing and executing on solutions that enhance an organizations capabilities and success. He is a member of the Association of PeriOperative Registered Nurses (AORN). He maintains membership in the Business Industry Consulting (BIC) and Leadership Specialty Assemblies and is a long-time member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. He completed his Lean Healthcare Certification at Villanova University, is a nationally recognized speaker and has been published in nationally recognized peer review journals on various perioperative subjects.

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Brenda C. Ulmer, RN,

Perioperative Nurse Educator

Brenda C. Ulmer, RN, MN, CNOR, is a perioperative nurse educator with expert knowledge of energy-based devices including fire safety and the hazards of surgical smoke. Additional experience includes accreditation and credentialing processes along with preparation and presentation of educational programs.
   Ulmer’s work history includes global director, professional education for Covidien energy-based devices, director of surgical services at Northlake Regional Medical Center in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as staff and charge positions at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
   A long term active member of AORN, Ulmer served three terms on the national board of directors, and as national president 2000-2001. Her current committee assignment is AORN representative to SAGES fundamental use of energy in surgery committee (FUSE). Ulmer is an inaugural board of directors member on the International Council on Surgical Plume (ICSP), a non-profit organization dedicated to collaborative efforts focused on the evacuation and filtration of surgical plume. 

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Elizabeth “Betsy” Vane,

Health Science Teacher, Health Careers High School

Elizabeth “Betsy” Vane served 30 years in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps. Currently, she is a health science teacher at Health Careers High School in San Antonio, Texas. She holds CNOR, CRCST and CHL certifications. Her master’s of science degree in nursing is from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

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Riki Watts, RN

Director of Surgical Services, St. Claire Health Care

Riki Watts is the director of surgical services, endoscopy and outpatient infusion services at St. Claire Health Care. She has been in nursing leadership for the last nine years and has served in a variety of roles. Watts serves on multiple councils and committees within the organization and is a member of the nurse executive council. She obtained her associate degree in nursing from Ashland Community and Technical College in 2003 and completed a master’s of science degree in nursing in 2013. She is a board-certified nurse executive (NE-BC) and a certified nurse-operating room (CNOR). She is a volunteer item writer for the Competency & Credentialing Institute. She has clinical experience in the intensive care unit, post anesthesia care unit, general surgery and cardiovascular operating room. She is an active member of the Kentucky Nurses Association, American Nurses Association, Association of periOperative Registered Nurses, Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society.

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Dawn Whiteside,

Director of Education, Competency & Credentialing Institute

Dawn Whiteside is the director of education at the Competency and Credentialing Institute. Working with nurses to advance each individual’s personal and professional development is an important part of leadership/management skills. In her role as director of education, she develops and manages product development for certificants related to perioperative nursing and surgical services management. In addition, she presents at national conferences on topics including competency assessment, leadership, professionalism and management. Whiteside has been an operating room nurse for 30 years. Her perioperative experience includes staff nurse in the circulator, scrub and first assistant roles. She went on to become team leader in the operating room for the cardiac, ENT, plastic and oral surgery specialties for 10 years. While serving as team leader, she was also the educator and rotating charge nurse. After transferring to a cardiac-only perioperative environment, she became the educator and manager for 10 years over four operating suites at two hospitals. Responsibilities included staff scheduling, time card management, surgery scheduling and managing 38 employees.