Operating Room Nurse

Being a register nurse has a lot of advantages in terms of employment. A registered nurse is a person who has finished a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing and who obtained a license to practice as a nurse in a locality. Some of the registered nurses may even proceed to different clinical exposure alongside with continuing professional education. Some may even start off working in a hospital setting, clinics or opted to travel as a nurse.

When a nurse would go into the work in the operating room, it is considered as a specialty. Nurses are responsible in the preoperative activities done to the patient. Keeping a sterile environment for instance is one of the important responsibilities of a nurse. Aside from that, keeping ethical issues as a nurse involves witnessing an informed consent from the patient or the nearest kin in times of performing procedures. In emergency operations, a registered nurse is covered by the Good Samaritan Law that involves non-consent procedures in order to save the life of the patient.

A registered nurse who plans to enter the field of Preoperative nursing must take the following steps:

  1. Complete a 4-year Bachelor’s degree in Nursing. Some of the LPNs can also take the ladderized program in order to achieve this type of educational attainment.
  2. Be a licensed nurse by passing the board examination for nurses such as NCLEX- RN or other recognized licensing centre.
  3. Obtain a Master’s degree concentrated in Medical-Surgical Nursing. This program may serve as a passageway to give the nurse a better grasp of internal medicine as well as procedures appropriate. Some clinical programs may even include basic stitching or anaesthesiology.  A registered nurse may also serve in the operating room as a nurse anaesthesiologist.
  4. Serve in a teaching-hospital. In this manner, you will be able to get maximum learning experience as the environment is conducive to learning. You will even be able to get a chance to practice your teaching skills as you motivate fellow learners to enter the same field.
  5. Acquire further information and be a member of associations concentrating on the same level of interests such the Association of Operating Room Nurses.

As the registered nurse enters the operating room, he or she must assume these roles:

  1. Preoperative Nursing Roles:
    • a. Ensure the patient’s safety by proper side rails and support while transporting in a stretcher.
    • b. Ensure the patient’s identity is correct by checking the identity band, asking the patient’s of his or her name when he or she is conscious. Verify the data with the chart.
    • c. Check the orders and special procedures as well as the indication of a surgical procedure. Obtaining the medical or surgical history during endorsements is very important in terms of knowing the patient.
    • d. Obtain initial vital signs and other monitoring data essential for the success of the procedure.
    • e. Alley the patient’s anxiety about the procedure as well as coordination with other health team members such as the doctor, clergy or orderlies.
    • f. Communicate with the patient’s folks in times of emergencies during the procedure as well as after the procedure.
    • g. Make sure that an informed consent is made and the patient and its family fully understand the risks and consequences of the procedure.
  2. Intraoperative Nursing Roles – The nurse serves as either the scrub nurse or assisting nurse during the operation. They make sure that all materials are sterile and prevent a break on sterility.
    • a. Properly drape the patient. Exposing only the body parts involved in the surgery.
    • b. He or she must make sure that side rails are up or make sure that the position of the patient is well supported all throughout the procedure.
    • c. Protect the patient from falls especially during the induction of anaesthesia.
    • d. Assist the surgeon during procedure may involve handing the surgical instruments properly. Keeping the operative field sterile and free from blood.
    • e. Upon closure of the operative field, the nurse is responsible in counting the number of sponges used. This must be done with another nurse to help him or her make a proper counting. The counting of sponges and instruments is done before the initial closure and after procedure. The nurse is also responsible in informing the surgeon that the instruments or sponges have been properly taken out from the procedure.
  3. Post operative Nursing Roles – The Post Anaesthesia Care Unit is still an important of nurse’s responsibility in terms of patient care.
    • a. Monitor the patient’s vital signs and watch out for side effects of the anaesthesia such as hypothermia and disorientation.
    • b. Assess the neurovital signs of each patient for every 15 minutes for the first hour and every 30 minutes thereafter.
    • c. Administer medications prescribed after the surgery. Others may even warrant blood administration for those who suffered a significant amount of blood loss during the surgery.
    • d. Teach the patient about caring for the operative site as well as advise the activities that must be done for a faster recovery.

Registered nurses in the operating room have a wide experience in terms of understanding how the human body would compensate from the external trauma suffered. With the roles being taken by the operating room nurse, they are due for a pay ranging from $60,000 to $80,000 annually.


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Daisy Jane Antipuesto RN MN

Currently a Nursing Local Board Examination Reviewer. Subjects handled are Pediatric, Obstetric and Psychiatric Nursing. Previous work experiences include: Clinical instructor/lecturer, clinical coordinator (Level II), caregiver instructor/lecturer, NC2 examination reviewer and staff/clinic nurse. Areas of specialization: Emergency room, Orthopedic Ward and Delivery Room. Also an IELTS passer.

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