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If you mean what do we do while working if not assigned to a room, there are always things to be done:
-check supplies for outdates
-check case carts for upcoming case
-pick supplies for add on cases
The longest surgery I was involved in started with the patient entering the OR at 7am and the patient leaving the OR after midnight- very complicated heart surgery.
When there aren't any cases. I should have clarified more sorry...
Well, I can't say I've ever experienced a day without any cases, but we have had a few low volume days. For those days, first it's volunteers not to come in and then it's people told not to come in. We haven't had to tell someone not to come in in nearly 3 years.
If it is a very low volume case day, they will try to ask people the day before if they want the day off. Then as the day progresses, they will allow people to leave early if they want. If it is just a regular day and my room finishes before the end of my shift, I will do many of the same things as stated above by another poster. (Re-stock my room with supplies, look ahead to the next day and possibly stock the room for the mornings case and equipment, look for case carts/put away empty ones) There is always little "busy work" things to do!
We chill out and watch tv after all the work is done. We can leave if we want but are not sent home. We may walk around town and grab a coffee or ice cream.... When we get a down day we enjoy it...... When you work in a high volume "rural" area it is hard to recruit good OR nurses so you pamper the ones you have.
Same as above, voluntary home early list. Or stock room cabinets, check on case carts for next day, or if you are in a smaller hospital and you don't get to scrub, ask to scrub in on an ongoing case to learn.