open heart surgery?

Specialties CCU


sorry for my dumb question, I am 18 and I like watching heart surgery, Do nurses get to help during open heart surgery in the operating room and watch the surgery? what do cardiac nurses do?

Specializes in ED, ICU, Education.

Typically, RN's do not actually assist in the procedure. A surgical technician gets in there with the surgeon and pulls back organs and things. There are usually 2-3 RN's in the room. One circulating for supplies, documenting etc. Another may be the anesthetist (CRNA). Hope this helps!

Specializes in CVICU.

I would agree with the above except to say that RN's may assist with the actual surgery in some facilities more so than others. Research RN First Assist (RNFA).

Specializes in Critical care.

Nurses have wonderfully diverse job descriptions. In the setting of open-heart surgery, a nurse could fulfill almost every job in the OR aside from that of the surgeon. Including, as noted, delivering the anesthesia. That almost is there in that the perfusionist is not nurse-based or nurse-equivalent position. One could certainly find a perfusionist or two that were former nurses, but after attending perfusionist school do not work under the nurse title.

The role of each OR team member can vary from hospital to hospital, and region to region. What is typically found is some combination of RN's, doctors, surgical techs, and perfusionists.

Regarding 'cardiac nurses', well that may seem like a specific job, however in practice it could vary from cardiac rehabilitation up to the immediate post-open heart surgery recovery.

I have to agree with the previous comments. As a CVOR RN, I not only circulate, but scrub and assist the surgeon in the case. Many hospitals are now understanding the advantage of hiring RNs who can both circulate and scrub in the CVOR setting (getting more bang for the buck). Also, depending on the size of the team and program, there is a fair amount of on-call (call-back) that goes along with being a CVOR RN.

Specializes in ICU.

I work in the ICU where we take care of the patients once they get out of open heart surgery. If the patient has bleeding issues and is still intubated, then we do the re-op in the ICU. There's a scrub tech or an RNFA and a circulating nurse that is part of the team and the ICU nurse administers sedation meds and monitors hemodynamics, which is what the anesthesiologist would normally do in the OR setting.

I am 41 years old, and one thing that I know for sure in life, is that there is no such thing as a dumb question. I'm glad you asked it. I enjoyed reading the answers.

Hey blingkat! Are you still a CVOR RN? I am working on a couple of openings with an award winning CVOR... we also offer a great referral bonus! PM me if you want to talk in more detail. Thanks for all that you do! I know its not an easy job, and it so often goes unthanked!

Anyone have any suggestions that would help guide my search and find experienced CVOR RN's that can "hit the ground running" so to speak? They're ideally going to have experience circulating, scrubbing, and as a first assist (or 2 out of the 3).

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