A perioperative nurse is a nurse who works in an emergency operating room. These registered nursing professionals assist surgeons with various tasks while also helping patients to relax and remain comfortable during surgery. A perioperative nurse may also help patients before surgery (pre-operative) and after surgery (post-operative).
When a perioperative nurse is acting as a pre-operative nurse, these individuals are responsible for a number of different things including working with a patient's family members. Pre-operative nurses must assess each patient, prepare each patient for surgery, and speak with patients regarding any fears or concerns. Once surgery commences, the role of the pre-operative nurse frequently changes to that of a perioperative nurse.
During surgery, two perioperative nurses usually tend to each patient. The "circulating" nurse is responsible for the general safety and well-being of a patient during surgery. This nurse works with the surgeon, anesthesia expert, and the scrub nurse to ensure that all safety procedures are being followed. This perioperative nurse may also be responsible for assisting a surgical team, though circulating nurses do not handle surgical equipment.
The other type of perioperative nurse is referred to as a "scrub" nurse. A scrub nurse acts as a surgical assistant by handing a surgeon specific sterilized tools during an operation. Additionally, the scrub nurse is responsible for making sure that all medical instruments are properly cared for and safe.
Following surgery, perioperative nurses are frequently required to act as post-operative nurses. Immediately after surgery, the post-operative nurse tends to a patient who has just undergone a surgical procedure. During this crucial time, a post-operative nurse's main responsibility is to ensure the safety and comfort of a patient. Post-operative nurses have extensive training handling post-operative patients.
Clearly, the role of a perioperative nurse is not an easy one. These individuals must be able to perform three complex nursing tasks at all times. Perioperative nurses tend to have extensive specialized training in addition to general nursing training. While this type of profession is complex and difficult, perioperative nurses often enjoy a rewarding career. Anyone wishing to become a perioperative nurse should possess great communication skills along with a general interest in helping others.
The best way to begin a career as a perioperative nurse is to attend nursing school followed by specialized courses. Many hospitals and private clinics hire nurses that have perioperative training. Without these individuals, the operating room would be a confusing and potentially unsafe place.