What do OR nurses do anyway?

  1. I just applied to a new grad OR nurse program, but I actually don't really know what OR nurses do. Does it include pre-op and post-op care, or will I be stuck in the operating room all day long handing instruments to a doctor??

    Also, I apologize if this has been asked before. I went back a few pages and didn't see anything.
    Last edit by Joe V on Aug 23, '12
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    About greyL

    Joined: Feb '11; Posts: 86; Likes: 30


  3. by   BellasMommyOBRN
    Before landing my current job, I had shadowed/interviewed for the OR. They explained to me that the RN (at this particular hospital at least) fulfills the scrub role as well as the circulating role.

    As the scrub RN, you pass instruments to the surgeon as well as set up sterile fields/equipment, help dress the surgical team, perform instrument counts with the circulator, communicate with the circulator when items are needed, and assist with passing off specimens (These are a lot of the major tasks that I witnessed but there are much more I'm sure...)

    As the circulator RN, I noticed that they help set up the room with the scrub tech/RN, interview the patients, perform the "time out", keep track of used items for billing purposes, collect specimens and pass them on to pathology, perform instrument counts with scrub and DOCUMENT. There is a lot of documentation for the circulator RN.

    I hope this gives you some kind of idea. It's MUCH MORE than simply passing instruments I assure you. They work very hard in the OR and it's a HUGE learning curve. Lots of equipment/instruments/procedures to learn. They told me it typically takes 6 months to a year to get it.

    Good Luck!!
    Last edit by Joe V on Aug 23, '12
  4. by   greyL
    Is there any direct patient care? That's my goal.
  5. by   Argo
    I'd you can't understand what direct patient care would or could be given in an OR then you should A. Shadow if you haven't ever been in an OR. B. Go work on a patient care unit if u have shadowed in an OR and still have this kind of question.
  6. by   greyL
    I shadowed a nurse once during a c-section, and I don't remember there being much direct patient care.
  7. by   Rose_Queen
    What do you define as direct patient care? OR nurses may not always be at the sterile field touching the patient, but there is certainly patient care going on- positioning to avoid injury/pressure issues, preparing medications, prepping, etc.- and that's only after the patient is asleep. OR nurses also have to gain the trust of a patient in a very short time period when many are beside themselves with nerves.
  8. by   ChristineAdrianaRN
    There is still direct patient care. As circulator, you speak with the patient and the family before the surgery. This is a time in which people are typically the most frightened, so your presence makes a huge impact. You reinforce teachings, answer questions, comfort them, and keep family updated throughout longer cases. You are still the number one patient advocate in the room. Sure, it's not as much direct patient care as on the floor, but I've been there, and the amount of "awake" patient care in the OR is the perfect amount for me.
  9. by   amoLucia
    The lead-in line just cracks me up --- Just worded funny!
  10. by   greyL
    Thanks everyone. From reading what's been said here and talking to a friend of mine, it looks like it's a position I would enjoy.
  11. by   cpkRN
    Your patient may be asleep for an hour or even much longer, but you are ultimately responsible for that patient on the table. You may not start IVs or directly give medications (other than drawing them up and delivering them to the sterile field) but everything that happens in surgery is something you have to have knowledge of. The surgeon focuses on surgery, anesthesia does their thing, the scrub tech or nurse has their area. As the circulator, you have to have an awareness of the entire room. It's completely different from floor nursing and you'll often hear other nurses say that all we do is count, but it really is so much more. When I was a student, it was difficult to see beyond the circulator counting, charting, or running to get things for the surgeon, but there's so much going on. I know I'm almost constantly silently assessing and reassessing my patient. I'm just coming up on 6 months and, while I'm just off of orientation, it's still a challenge.
  12. by   kabooski
    Pre-OP: You provide the patient with a gown and socks. You confirm that the patient understands what surgery they are having, then you have the patient mark with a marker what part of the body is to be operated on. You ask if they have any dental issues that could cause issues with the mouth piece. The patient is then transported into the operating room, ask a few questions and then its night night..then next thing you know, your in a hallway with a few other people, and your like "its over"? it seem liked just a minute ago!

    LoL that is how my hernia surgery was like....
  13. by   HollywoodDiva
    We are your patient advocate...in some scary hospitals, preventing the surgeon from operating on the wrong site...fighting to keep you safe from retained foreign body, infections, fires, nerve injuries, anyone giving you the wrong medications, among a thousand other things that can and could go wrong. Thankless job and most people don't know exactly what we do. Preventing and fighting anyone from doing harm to the patient no matter how much we get yelled at for doing and fighting for what is right for the patient. We MAKE everyone in the room follow rules, policies, procedures and guidelines that otherwise would not follow since they feel they can bend rules or shortcut you in what is right. That's my rant...been fighting for my patients at some of the most scariest hospitals for the last 10 years and hopefully will continue for awhile.
  14. by   lozstar
    As mentioned before by other people before there are distinct roles in the operating room - the scout nurse, scrub nurse and anaesthetic nurse. Depending on where you work some of these roles may overlap. For instance, as the scout nurse sometimes I do the pre-op checklist for the patient prior to them coming into the operating room which in many other hospitals where I have worked this is primarily the responsibility of the anaesthetic nurse. However, the most important role of a nurse in the operating room is to ensure the patient's advocacy. Personally, I love the operating room because everyday is different, I love the team atmosphere and only looking after one patient at a time!