April 22, 2014
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
Over the years, the role of the registered nurse who assists with patient care in the operating room has undergone several changes in keeping with an ever-evolving surgical scenario. Registered nurses who work in the operating room are now called ‘operating room nurses’ or ‘perioperative nurses’ to more accurately reflect their specialised surgery-related duties. The responsibilities of a perioperative nurse include all tasks that are performed by the professional registered nurse before, during and after the surgical procedure.
A perioperative nurse is responsible for taking care of patients throughout the operative process, from admission and preoperative testing through the recovery period and discharge to home or a nursing unit.
They work together with the surgical team to ensure that the patient is receiving the best possible care and act as liaisons between the surgical team and the patients’ families. They also work closely with the surgical patient, their family members and other health-care professionals to help assess, plan and implement the most appropriate after care and teach them about postoperative care at home.
Before a patient goes in for surgery, the perioperative nurse verifies that all of the requested preoperative testing is completed and ensures that all results are within the normal range. They give the patient instructions on how to prepare for their procedure and educate them on what to expect on the day of the surgery as well as postoperative care and management. The nurse will give the patient a specific time to arrive at the hospital and get them admitted and prepared for surgery.
In the operating room, the nurse will act either as a circulator or a scrub nurse. The scrub nurse works directly with the surgeon, selecting and passing instruments and supplies used for the operation. The circulating nurse manages the overall nursing care in the operating room and helps to maintain a safe, comfortable environment by ensuring that the counts of surgical instruments and tools are accurate and that the sterile field has been maintained. They also get additional instruments and testing results when required and manage the needs of the sterile surgical team.
After the procedure is complete, the postoperative nurse monitors the patient very carefully, keeping a watchful eye on the vital signs and other clinical indicators until the patient has stabilised. They will administer anti-nausea or pain medications and alert the surgical team in case any complications develop.
You will have to start working as a Registered Nurse to gain the necessary experience in nursing. Alongside this work experience, you will also have to get experience working in the emergency room and critical care, and take continuing education courses in diverse areas including emergency situations, patient assessment, intraoperative activities, discharge planning, and sterilization.
Finally you will have to pass your Certified Nurse Operating Room (CNOR) certification exam to be able to practice.
Perioperative nurses work in hospital surgical departments, ambulatory surgery centres or day-surgery centres and clinics and physicians’ offices.