Difference btwn MedSurg & Operating Rm?

Specialties Med-Surg


Hi, I am a student interested in MedSurg. For a while now I always thought about what was the difference between med surg & operating room nursing. I thought they were the same, but apparently they're not, can someone explain what's the difference between them?

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Specializes in OR, Nursing Professional Development.
What is Medical-Surgical Nursing?

Medical-surgical nursing is the foundation of all nursing practice. Once upon a time and not so very long ago, all nurses practiced the art and science of nursing on wards; everyone was a medical or surgical nurse -- that is where all nursing started. Today, many nurses choose to work in the specialty of medical-surgical nursing.

Medical-surgical nursing has evolved from an entry-level position to a distinct specialty. It is no longer viewed as a stepping-stone, but is the solid rock and the backbone of every institution. Medical-surgical nurses are the largest group of practicing professionals. It is one of the most demanding nursing specialties.

from: What is Medical-Surgical Nursing? | Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses

Circulating Nurses

In the operating room, circulating nurses remain in the unsterile field (Lewis et al., 2006). These nurses are not scrubbed, and do not wear gloves or a gown (Lewis et al., 2006). Their role is to monitor and document the procedures taken during the operation (Lewis et al., 2006). Circulating nurses also function to promote the sterility of the operating room (Smith, 2009). They inform operating room staff of anything that may cause contamination (Smith, 2009). They are also responsible for opening autoclaved packages, which are packages that hold sterile objects, so that the operating room staff may easily access the sterile equipment (Smith, 2009).

Scrub Nurses

Scrub nurses remain in the sterile field of the operating room and follow the designated scrub procedure, wear gloves, a mask and gown (Lewis et al., 2006). Scrub nurses aid surgeons by handing them equipment, sponges and other necessary instruments needed during the operation (AORN, 2009). They also help the surgeon by monitoring the patient's condition during the procedure (AORN, 2009).

from http://nursing101.wikispaces.com/Nurses+In+The+Operating+Room/

Med/Surg is a unit in which patients are admitted for medical issues and/or pre- & post-op. The Operating Room is where the surgical procedures take place, in a sterile environment. Med/Surg nurses typically have 4+ patients on which they provide care: med administration, assessments, vital signs, etc. in the OR, the nurse is responsible for one patient at a time, the patient on the operating table. Their responsibilities include positioning, prepping, running for supplies/instruments, assisting the surgeon, assisting Anesthesia, etc. OR nursing is completely different than being a floor nurse and generally requires extra, surgery specific & surgeon specific training.

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