The Operating Room

In training, I spend four months in the Operating Room, that wonderful, scary, fascinating, educational place. Nurses Announcements Archive Article

The Operating Room

The O.R. always evoked strong emotions for me. I loved the O.R., I hated the O.R., I was enamored by the O.R. and terrified by the O.R. all at the same time. The educational aspects of seeing the human body from the inside thrilled me to the core. The thought of not getting everything right for the surgeon caused me anxiety and gave me diarrhea before I even got to work. I enjoyed the snappy fast-paced work of scrubbing and circulating but found it stressful at the same time. What a mixture of emotions this particular rotation brought to me! When I graduated I decided to work elsewhere, even though the O.R. held a strong fascination for me.

Years later when I worked in Labor and Delivery we regularly went to the O.R. for C. Sections. One such Section happened the day before my own son was to have his surgery in that very O.R. It was like a new level of sensory acuity struck me that day. I noticed everything in that room with a heightened sense of awareness- the smells, the sound of the anesthetic machine filling the patient's lungs with just the right mixture of oxygen and gas, the rapidly dripping IV, the beeping monitors and the hiss of the wall

suction, the smell of the cautery, the surgeon's eyes, the color green, the brightness of the overhead lights and the subtle interactions between the surgeon and the scrub nurse as she handed him the tools of his trade one by one.

My son would be on that table at 8 a.m. tomorrow morning. I told the anesthetist. He said, "Oh No, why did you tell me that!!" I kind of knew how he felt but I wanted him to give my son extra good care and keep him alive for me. I know how dangerous anesthetics can be. Even though I've seen so many, many successful surgeries over the years, still the fear of anesthesia haunts me.

A family friend, who was an anesthetist, told of a young mother who suffered severe brain damage at his hand when something went terribly wrong. A high school buddy died during surgery from oxygen deprivation due to a problem with the anesthetic machine. Being in the O.R. that day filled me with awe and respect for the people who work here and the great responsibility for people's lives that they carry in their hands every single working day.

When they wheeled my son safely out of the O.R. the next morning, I felt overwhelming gratitude to the amazing staff who work here behind the scenes. Most patients get to see them only briefly just before they fall asleep. They may never know whose eyes those are peering out between that cap and mask and who it is that watches over them and advocates for them even while they are unconscious.

Thank you to all you amazing O.R. nurses out there who do this every day!

I worked on surgery and maternity for years then retired but I could not live without nursing so I now work in a long term care facility part time.

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Specializes in OR, HH.

Thanks for putting your thoughts down on paper. As an OR Nurse it can be a thankless, but somewhat fulfilling job. I am glad your son's experience was a positive one.

After working in the OR for the last 15 years, I can't imagine working anywhere but the OR. It is very different than floor nursing and there are a lot of dynamic personalities there. But I still wouldn't work anywhere else.

If you decide to work in surgery keep this in mind: It pays to anticipate the surgeon, ie instruments, ligatures etc. And it doesn't hurt to be pretty good at dodging sharp projectiles while working with one surgeon in particular I can tell you!

I'm sure it was comforting to know who was in the room during your son's surgery. It's good to hear all went well.:wink2:


Specializes in Labor & Delivery, Med-surg.

There was one surgeon back in the 70's who use to throw things (even bloody sponges) when things got tense in the OR. I'm sure he'd be reprimanded now if he tried such a thing (or does such behavior still go on??)

Sadly it still goes on.

Specializes in CT ICU, OR, Orthopedic.

It still goes on, but they are cracking down...finally. They have required a couple surgeons where I work to undergo anger management classes. A surgeon also got fiered for sexual harrasment... It went on for way too long.

Thank you for appreciating us! I don't think most people understand or appreciate our jobs!

As an OR patient I really appreciate you guys. One of my surgeries out of the whole staff (other then the surgeon who has done multiple others on me since) the only person from that OR staff that I remember....THE NURSE!

I still remember her, and we actually exchange christmas cards each year. She made all the difference to me. When I was in pre-op she said to me, "dont worry I will be there with you the whole time" and she held my hand as I went to sleep.

I requested her my next surgery, and they had her come in to be part of my team.

The next time I had surgery I did not and I am glad. Her daughter was having surgery (with my old surgeon incidentally) and she was in the OR for that. However, when she came to the pre-op waiting room to tell her husband how their daughter had done, she saw me sitting there and came over to me. Even it that stressful time in her own life, she still reached out to me, to make sure I was ok. I will always remember her.

Specializes in Operating Room.

What a great post! I have been an OR nurse for a little over 8 months and my five year- old will have surgery next week. I totally understand the emotions. It is very overwhelming when you know what "could" happen.

btw- I LOVE being in the Operating Room!

I'm practicing in the O.R well I wouldn't say I love it but I'm learning a lot of things , not only how to scrub and circulate but also many other things that I can't describe by my plain words. I love C. Sections and I remember the first time when I saw the surgeon got the baby out of the mother's unterus , I was even close to cry.

Specializes in Labor & Delivery, Med-surg.

MissTequila, I know what you mean! For the longest time I felt moved to tears at every birth. It is such a supernatural moment when a newborn pops into the world and takes its very first breath! If the dad cries, that really chokes me up for sure.

I had been an OR nurse for over 25 years. Then I became the patient. I was glad that I could choose my surgical team and anesthesiologist as well as my surgeon. Although it was terrifying because I did not know the extent of the cancer, I felt reassured knowing that my coworkers would be there for me no matter what the outcome.

In the years that I worked in the OR, I held many hands and knew how important it is that the patients feel as relaxed as possible before the induction of anesthesia. We can never replace their family members, but having someone who can provide simple comfort measures can make a difference.

Specializes in O.R., pediatrics, gynecology, surgical.

thanks f0r really appreciating us. I am also w0rking in OR and its a fun and exciting place to w0rk. But also gives me a l0t of stress also. As what they say in every situation, its n0t that all good and n0t that all bad. S0metimes, even patients can't appreciate us because they became unc0nsci0us due 2 anesthetist after maybe 5 mins. of preparing and p0sitioning or shifting the patient.. Go0d f0r you., , you saw and met the people who wil take care of your s0n.. f0r us who seld0m hear thank you fr0m patients, it THANK you 2 everyone who appreciate our efforts at work. 00000