Silly questions from a student

  1. I am just now finishing up my prereqs but I often surf these boards (when I should be studying). Could you answer a few questions for me.

    1. What does an OR nurse do? Typical duties?
    2. What does scrub mean? I assume that means you are in the OR helping. But you know what happens when you assUme something.
    3. What does circualte mean?
    4. I am in AZ and I have heard they use first assist RNs. I always thought First Assistants were techs. Are there two different things or am I confusing the names? What do they do (rn's, not techs)? What is their training? Are they like NP's for the OR?

    Thanks. I know these are pretty silly to you all but I love reading these boards even more when I know what is going on. And I have learned so much from asking questions already.
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  2. 10 Comments

  3. by   ang75
    OR nurses duties vary from doc to doc and hospital to hospital. Scrub? As in scrub tech? Kind of like an aide on the floor-just different scenery. First assist? I have never seen an RN as first assist. To sum it up, that's the docs first preference on who helps him/her out. Holding, stapeling, suction, etc, etc. No, I take that back. I have to seen an RN as FA. They usually have the most exp. in that area. I usually see FA's in ortho.

    Hope that helps.

    Quote from ayndim
    I am just now finishing up my prereqs but I often surf these boards (when I should be studying). Could you answer a few questions for me.

    1. What does an OR nurse do? Typical duties?
    2. What does scrub mean? I assume that means you are in the OR helping. But you know what happens when you assUme something.
    3. What does circualte mean?
    4. I am in AZ and I have heard they use first assist RNs. I always thought First Assistants were techs. Are there two different things or am I confusing the names? What do they do (rn's, not techs)? What is their training? Are they like NP's for the OR?

    Thanks. I know these are pretty silly to you all but I love reading these boards even more when I know what is going on. And I have learned so much from asking questions already.
  4. by   CIRQL8
    First let me say this-- I love working in the OR. As far as I'm concerned, it is the absolute best position as a staff nurse in a hospital setting.


    Where else are you guaranteed a one nurse to one patient ratio??!

    The circulator (me) is a registered professional nurse. Basically, the nurse of the operating room. The Circulator (RN) has many buties and responsibilities, not the least of which is patient advocate. Your patient is in the worst position to speak for themselves (sedated/anesthetised). To touch on it - we assist in setting up the room approriately for the surgical procedure (along w/ your scrub). Be sure that you have the correct type of operating table that you need (if there is in fact a choice), cautery unit, garbage and linnen containers, supplies and other equipment. Open the case - keeping it sterile!!. Get the patient. That includes reviewing the cart (requirements vary from place to place), interview the patient, verify side, site, and type of procedure. Bring patient to OR. Assist them in getting "comfortable" on the OR table. Provide confort in the way of touch, words, and/or warm blankets. Assist anesthesia with induction as necessary. Prep the patient. Hook up cautery/suction, etc. Watch over the room. Open more supplies as necessary, assist in gowning the scrubbed staff. Do paperwork. Get things if needed. Call and update family. DO paperwork.. And Oh Yea - do paperwork.
    There is ALOT more. But you can see how long I took just for this.
    Orientation in the OR is not short. Expect to be with a preceptor for a MINIMUM of 4 months. Varies by specialty and institution, and your experience.

    Just to touch on the scrub. They are either an RN or a surgical technician, they scrub in, set up the field, pass instruments, assist w/ retraction a snecessary and maybe other things, too. Again there is ALOT more - bit I don't want to get even longer in my typing than I have!!

    First assist - specially trained technicians or nurses. Usually had some type of a class. If they are certified, not only took a class, but a national exam as well. A nurse may be a CRNFA (certified registered nurse first assist), certified by the Certification board of Perioperative Nursing (CBPN).
    Check out www.aorn.org you may find some info. A certified Perioperative nurse is a CNOR, certified through the CBPN also.

    There is so much more. Check out if your local institution offers a nurse externship program and try to get into the OR.

    Please leave more questions if I confused you more or didn't answer enough.

    I am not going to proof read - too long!!! Sorry for any typos, etc!!!
  5. by   ayndim
    Quote from CIRQL8
    First let me say this-- I love working in the OR. As far as I'm concerned, it is the absolute best position as a staff nurse in a hospital setting.


    Where else are you guaranteed a one nurse to one patient ratio??!

    The circulator (me) is a registered professional nurse. Basically, the nurse of the operating room. The Circulator (RN) has many buties and responsibilities, not the least of which is patient advocate. Your patient is in the worst position to speak for themselves (sedated/anesthetised). To touch on it - we assist in setting up the room approriately for the surgical procedure (along w/ your scrub). Be sure that you have the correct type of operating table that you need (if there is in fact a choice), cautery unit, garbage and linnen containers, supplies and other equipment. Open the case - keeping it sterile!!. Get the patient. That includes reviewing the cart (requirements vary from place to place), interview the patient, verify side, site, and type of procedure. Bring patient to OR. Assist them in getting "comfortable" on the OR table. Provide confort in the way of touch, words, and/or warm blankets. Assist anesthesia with induction as necessary. Prep the patient. Hook up cautery/suction, etc. Watch over the room. Open more supplies as necessary, assist in gowning the scrubbed staff. Do paperwork. Get things if needed. Call and update family. DO paperwork.. And Oh Yea - do paperwork.
    There is ALOT more. But you can see how long I took just for this.
    Orientation in the OR is not short. Expect to be with a preceptor for a MINIMUM of 4 months. Varies by specialty and institution, and your experience.

    Just to touch on the scrub. They are either an RN or a surgical technician, they scrub in, set up the field, pass instruments, assist w/ retraction a snecessary and maybe other things, too. Again there is ALOT more - bit I don't want to get even longer in my typing than I have!!

    First assist - specially trained technicians or nurses. Usually had some type of a class. If they are certified, not only took a class, but a national exam as well. A nurse may be a CRNFA (certified registered nurse first assist), certified by the Certification board of Perioperative Nursing (CBPN).
    Check out www.aorn.org you may find some info. A certified Perioperative nurse is a CNOR, certified through the CBPN also.

    There is so much more. Check out if your local institution offers a nurse externship program and try to get into the OR.

    Please leave more questions if I confused you more or didn't answer enough.

    I am not going to proof read - too long!!! Sorry for any typos, etc!!!
    Thanks. That answers a ton of questions. Sounds interesting.
    Can you get an OR position straight out of school? Does it matter if you are BSN or an ADN.
  6. by   meesa214
    See if you can set up an observation time in the hospital OR where you are doing your clinicals. My instructor was able to get all 8 of us in to see a surgery at some point during this semester. I did my observation yesterday. Prior to observing, I thought that OR might be something I would be interested in. Now that I've seen the RNs at work, I know that I should stay focused on other areas. I just found it incredibly boring, and I'll leave it at that as I don't want to offend anyone that does love the OR. But it's definitely not for me.
  7. by   orrnlori
    You can get in with an ADN, BSN, or diploma. Long cases can be boring but after you've worked on a floor with 8-10 patients, boring is very very good!!!! I like what I call medium cases, last about 2 hours, that's enough time to get it all done and still sit for about 20 minutes or so. Nice little rest. Plus, in the OR you get a scheduled break and a scheduled lunch, not like that on the floor or in the unit. Someone actually comes into the room and gets you out and away from the OR. It's great.
  8. by   CIRQL8
    I got into OR right out of school. I am a diploma nurse. Again - I LOVE IT!
  9. by   CIRQL8
    this is a test post - i've been having trouble posting - apparently its working.
  10. by   Ferret
    G'day Ayndim,

    The only silly questions are those that don't get asked. Having said that, check out the "what's up with RN's who don't scrub" thread for some interesting discussion on what we do. It's a bit long.... lol.
  11. by   MambutzRN
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    Last edit by MambutzRN on Jun 10, '04
  12. by   MambutzRN
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    Last edit by MambutzRN on Jun 10, '04

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