Tips for what a student nurse should observe in the OR


Hey everyone,

I started my second semester clinical rotation last week. In the 5 weeks we are in clinicals one of the weeks we go and observe an sugery in the OR and follow the patient to the post-op area. Since I am the first one in my group going (tomorrow) I don't really know what to expect. Does anyone have any tips and pointers? The big thing I have heard is to stay out of everyones way. We are also supposed to come up with three objectives so we can explain to people what we are doing in the OR if they ask. One of the objectives is to "observe the role of the nurse in the operating room". If anyone has any other specific things they think would be good things to focus on during the surgery let me know!

Thanks everyone!

teeniebert, LPN

563 Posts

Practical advice:

Make sure you have a good breakfast, with protein in it.

If you start to feel dizzy or lightheaded, back up until you hit the wall then sit down (also tell the circulating nurse).

Objective suggestions:

Roles/responsibilities of different personnel related to the creation, maintenance, and protection of sterile fields and technique

What parts of the procedure "belong" to which personnel (surgeon, anesthesiologist, first assistant, circulator, scrub tech)

Temperature of the OR and how it affects the patient; what measures are taken to prevent hypo- and hyperthermia

Importance of positioning during and after the procedure

Editorial Team / Admin

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

6 Articles; 11,348 Posts

Specializes in OR, Nursing Professional Development. Has 18 years experience.

Be sure to wear a fluid shield mask. When we have students observe, they are usually up by anesthesia looking over the drapes, which can be a splash zone.

Make sure you know what you can and can't do- students at my hospital can insert foleys, but are not allowed anywhere near the counts/allowed to hand up extra items.

Check out the sticky at the bottom of the forum: Sooooo you're observing in the OR (or something very similar, not sure of the exact title).


149 Posts

Specializes in OR. Has 9 years experience.

i believe you can ask a lot of questions at appropriate times. don't raise your voice when the surgeon is trying to get the bleeding under control. take time to note down everything you observe and ask when you can ask questions. where I work, most surgeons love to teach. they even call you and explain the procedure in detail according to your understanding and show you the live anatomy. however, be prepared to answer questions. but don't be afraid to say: I am sorry i don't know the answer but i will try and find out when i can get a chance. respect the environment. it can be a lot of fun environment. humor at appropriate times helps to relieve tension. moreover, don't stress yourself too much and try to get familiar with the environment because when you are at an ease, you tend to take in a lot of information and absorb a lot of knowledge.