Help with instruments


Hello, I'm a floor nurse who recently moved to the OR. I've wanted this for a long time and doing all that I can to succeed. Is there any advice that you would be willing to give regarding ALL the instruments that I have to learn? Is there a book I can buy that will help? It seems overwhelming ...thanks!

Specializes in L&D,Wound Care, SNC. Has 10 years experience.

Sorry I read your OR as OB. My advice will probably not be helpful to you.


410 Posts

Specializes in Paramedic,ER, House Supervisor, OR, CVOR.

If you read the name in the book it may be what it is called in the OR and it may not. I started in the OR several years ago after doing ER nursing for many years and was overwhelmed at the names and number of instruments at first. I have finally realized that there were just a few I really needed to know, depending on your speciality. Knowing where your knife is at all times, the type of handle for the various blade numbers, most of the scissors names and the differences between a mosquito, hemostat, kelly and tonsil cause the doc is always going to say "clamp". You have to decide which one depending on the case. Good luck, enjoy and don't be afraid to ask questions.


PS. If you get an instrument named after you in the or it's usually not a good thing. Took me a long time to find out why the Surgeon always asked for "Margarets Thing" when he really wanted a epicardial fat retractor.



71 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg;Rehab;Gerontology; Now OR. Has 17 years experience.

There is a book called Instrumentation for the Operating Room by Shirley Brooks Tighe. It has a lot of pictures of the instruments. If you know anyone in the sterile processing department, they also have a lot of instrument catalogs there, and usually a new one comes out yearly so maybe they could give you the old one.


16 Posts

Thank you both for the words of advice. It gives me the chance to take a deep breath and relax, knowing this will come in time. I think I'm a "Type A" personality with high expectations. :) Just glad I'm not alone in regards to the overwhelming feelings that I have right now.

it's more important to know what things do than what they're called. focus on that :)


692 Posts

Specializes in Surgery, Med/Surg/ICU, OB-Peds, Ophth.

If you have a smart phone, there may be an instrument app that works like a "memory" game? If you are able to bring your wrapped instruments that you are having a hard time remembering, bring the instruments to a place where you may be allowed to have your phone and take a pic, label it and make an itemized list as what area of specialty instruments is, its use and WHERE it is found :) Again, this is assuming that you are able to photo your instruments at/in your facility. On your off time, you can review your instrument details. I am also type A....I totally know the feeling!! ;)


16 Posts

That's funny you should say that , because I use my IPhone and Evernotes. Taking pictures of them with names :) thanks a bunch!!


1 Post

spend some time with the folks in sterile processing, make some friends you will need and learn something while doing it.


38 Posts

All of our new hires have to spend 4 days in SPD learning all aspects of the department. They spend at least 1 full day assembling instrument trays and they find that this helps with learning some of the instruments.