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Operating Room Nurses

Also known as surgical nurses, they are in charge of patients scheduled for surgery. Depending on the situation, operating room (OR) nurses are specialized registered nurses (RN) and may act as scrub nurses or circulating nurses in children's cancer hospitals. Scrub nurses handle surgical instruments to the surgeon while circulating nurses oversee nursing care during the procedure and ensure the operating room remains sterile. An operating room nurse also liaises with the patient, relatives, and the medical team.

A good operating room nurse should have the same skills and traits as other RNs. certain skills are even more important than others in this environment, including the following:

As an operating room nurse, it is imperative to be very organized in charting and highly competent in organizing supplies and actions to ensure the best possible outcome throughout any surgery. Moreover, operating room nurses must be able to find any surgical items and medications quickly, as the most routine surgical procedures can unexpectedly become more complex and require quick and advanced intervention. As such, she should be highly organized, attentive to details, and be able to work in a dynamic team. She is also an excellent problem solver, capable and confident in making critical decisions.

The operating room nurse uses a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to patient care, assisting surgeons and surgical teams to care for a patient before, during, and after surgery.

Before Surgery

The OR nurse’s duties begin way before the start of the operation. S/He ensures the operating room is clean, ready to be set up, and prepares the instruments and equipment needed for the surgery. S/He counts all sponges, instruments, needles, and other tools and preserves the sterile environment by “scrubbing in,” moreover, she/ he preserves surgical sterile attire, including a gown, gloves, and facemask. When the surgeon arrives, the nurse assists her/him in gowning and gloving before preparing the patient for surgery.

During Surgery

During the surgical procedure, one of the scrub nurse’s primary duties is selecting and passing instruments to the surgeon. The scrub nurse’s role here is to support the surgeon while maintaining patient safety. The nurse must know which instruments and supplies are used for specific procedures and when needed so s/he can quickly handle them to the surgeon.

After Surgery

Before the closure of the surgical cavity in the OR, the scrub nurse, with the circulating nurse, makes a count of all items used in the procedure, including instruments, sponges, and other tools. They inform the surgeon of the count result. She applies surgical dressing and transports the patient to the recovery areas. He also completes any necessary documentation regarding the surgery or the patient's transfer to recovery.