First let me say this-- I love working in the OR. As far as I'm concerned, it is the absolute best position as a staff nurse in a hospital setting.
Where else are you guaranteed a one nurse to one patient ratio??!
The circulator (me) is a registered professional nurse. Basically, the nurse of the operating room. The Circulator (RN) has many buties and responsibilities, not the least of which is patient advocate. Your patient is in the worst position to speak for themselves (sedated/anesthetised). To touch on it - we assist in setting up the room approriately for the surgical procedure (along w/ your scrub). Be sure that you have the correct type of operating table that you need (if there is in fact a choice), cautery unit, garbage and linnen containers, supplies and other equipment. Open the case - keeping it sterile!!. Get the patient. That includes reviewing the cart (requirements vary from place to place), interview the patient, verify side, site, and type of procedure. Bring patient to OR. Assist them in getting "comfortable" on the OR table. Provide confort in the way of touch, words, and/or warm blankets. Assist anesthesia with induction as necessary. Prep the patient. Hook up cautery/suction, etc. Watch over the room. Open more supplies as necessary, assist in gowning the scrubbed staff. Do paperwork. Get things if needed. Call and update family. DO paperwork.. And Oh Yea - do paperwork.
There is ALOT more. But you can see how long I took just for this.
Orientation in the OR is not short. Expect to be with a preceptor for a MINIMUM of 4 months. Varies by specialty and institution, and your experience.
Just to touch on the scrub. They are either an RN or a surgical technician, they scrub in, set up the field, pass instruments, assist w/ retraction a snecessary and maybe other things, too. Again there is ALOT more - bit I don't want to get even longer in my typing than I have!!
First assist - specially trained technicians or nurses. Usually had some type of a class. If they are certified, not only took a class, but a national exam as well. A nurse may be a CRNFA (certified registered nurse first assist), certified by the Certification board of Perioperative Nursing (CBPN).
Check out www.aorn.org
you may find some info. A certified Perioperative nurse is a CNOR, certified through the CBPN also.
There is so much more. Check out if your local institution offers a nurse externship program and try to get into the OR.
Please leave more questions if I confused you more or didn't answer enough.
I am not going to proof read - too long!!! Sorry for any typos, etc!!!