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Do you prefer to circulate or scrub?

Operating Room   (4,582 Views 18 Comments)
by Rory8 Rory8 (New Member) New Member

763 Visitors; 21 Posts

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Hello everyone! I'm starting a position in the OR in January (yay!) and I will be learning how to both circulate and scrub. I was just curious, for those of you who do both, which position to you prefer to do and why? Thanks! :)

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Rose_Queen is a BSN, MSN, RN and works as a Staff nurse educator.

354 Likes; 4 Followers; 4 Articles; 102,442 Visitors; 8,565 Posts

I tried to scrub, but found it far too stressful when I'd be initiating cardiopulmonary bypass with the surgeon while the PA was harvesting leg vein. Could I fill in if absolutely needed in a pinch? Sure, but I'd rather not. Circulating, on the other hand, is fine. Does get boring from time to time because cardiac cases are so long, but no big deal.

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1,829 Visitors; 54 Posts

For me, it's SO much more fun to scrub! You're right there where the action is,you know what is going on at the field. Whether I scrub or circulate, I take pride in taking care of my patient, it's just that it's more technical when I scrub. As I have said here before, I am task-oriented,so I can concentrate fully on my tasks when I scrub. It is an acquired skill, to be sure. I was so nervous when first starting to scrub, but the more you do it, the more fun it is. That being said, the best nurses know what it's like on both sides of the sterile field.

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763 Visitors; 21 Posts

Thank you both for replying! I agree that scrubbing does seem to be a bit more fun since you're so involved! I'm way more intimidated about learning how to scrub than circulate though!

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1,013 Visitors; 30 Posts

I wished my orientation included more scrubbing. I feel like it would make me more well rounded and marketable nurse. When you are scrubbed into the case, I feel like you get a better understanding of the case and the supplies needed. Whenever I get the chance, I ask if I can go scrub in. Since, we have been sooo short staff lately, I haven't gotten a lot of chances. The times I did, I was able to scrub in on lap appys and gyn cases. Plus, you don't have to worry about charting hehe.

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1,187 Visitors; 6 Posts

I love doing both, but my preference depends on the case (and sometimes the surgeon)! Scrubbing is a lot of fun and sometimes I feel like when the case is going, there's more action. I love circulating cases where there is a lot going on - it's challenging prioritizing everyone's needs in the room. In terms of the surgeons, some of our surgeons are pretty chill (which makes scrubbing even more fun) and some of our surgeons are a little more high maintenance (surprise!), so sometimes I prefer to circulate rather than hear them complain.

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FurBabyMom has 7 years experience as a BSN, RN and works as a Registered Nurse.

9 Likes; 23,785 Visitors; 727 Posts

I like both. I got a really good orientation to both roles. And the knowledge I have, being able to scrub all cases on our service, allows me to be a better circulator. I was really frustrated during orientation, my boss kept assigning me to scrub with one of our attendings who is arguably the most high maintenance of our attendings (while high maintenance, they are a very skilled surgeon and very focused on what is best for the patient). On the other side of that? Having survived scrubbing (learning to do so) with them, I can handle anything with any of the other attendings.

I have to agree with others - we have a few attendings I *love* to work with, no matter what. Their personalities are just such that they're incredibly easy to work with. It can be a total crapshow and still be a good day because of the people I work with. There are others, including one who is the most high strung of our attendings, who I have grown to love working with as time has went on. It doesn't much matter circulate verses scrub for me anymore, I'm comfortable in both roles in nearly all situations.

It depends on the situation. If it's an emergency, or I'm called in? I FAR prefer to scrub. I generally prefer to scrub, it's better for me, and what I suspect is an undiagnosed case of ADHD. Precepting is easier when I'm circulating...but I'm better at precepting in the scrub role now too.

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763 Visitors; 21 Posts

Thank you all for your input! I'd never thought about how knowing how to scrub makes it easier to be a good circulator because you are more familiar with the equipment and the surgery but that makes a lot of sense! And I agree that circulating must be nice if you want to stay away from the demanding surgeons :roflmao:

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3,125 Visitors; 88 Posts

I much prefer scrubbing. You only have 1 job really....keep track and count of all instruments/needles/tapes/sponges and ensure sterility. Circulators have to do everything, like chart, run for supplies, counts, then God forbid the patient crashes and you are anesthesia's go to person with the crash cart. Ew!

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Argo has 10 years experience and works as a OR RN - Traveler!.

2 Likes; 14,780 Visitors; 1,212 Posts

I prefer circulating most the time. I will scrub if needed though.

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2,034 Visitors; 74 Posts

I was trained to do both, but was made to concentrate on circulating (my previous hospital hired STs). It really depends on my mood. Some days I prefer to do one over the other. However, I would really love to be trained to scrub further. ☺️

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1,244 Visitors; 19 Posts

I was trained to do both, i think it depends a lot what service or type of case I am doing which I prefer. For example I used to do a ton of neuro and orthopedic surgery and would prefer to circulate over scrub a lot of them because of the fast pace and it helped me prioritize and plan and of course the day flies when you stay that busy running the room, grabbing for each case, and documenting in between , I have recently tho been doing more GYN/urology/general cases which I find myself wanting to scrub those cases more I think because I am less familiar with them and want to understand the actual procedures more.

one thing that is good about being an OR nurse who is trained on both is you understand both ends of each role and what to focus on in each role, you get to learn the procedures from each end and learn to anticipate what will come next during the case whether your scrubbed or circulating !

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