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The Operating Room Nurse: What's in Your Toolkit?

Blog Feature2

Perioperative nurses are a special group. They work in a demanding, fast-paced environment that requires exceptional teamwork. Patients and families look to Operating Room nurses as their champions. What items go into the OR nurse essential toolkit? We asked our OR nurse audience to weigh in and these are the most necessary items that came up.

1. Emotional stability

Some said nerves of steel, others called it a thick skin, but OR nurses must maintain their cool, even when the situation around them may not make it easy.

2. Organizational skills

Perioperative nurses must possess sharp organizational skills and the ability to multi-task, as they work to meet the needs of the patient and assist the team members around them.

3. Extensive knowledge of surgical procedures

Knowing the ins and outs of the surgical procedures you work through enables you to anticipate needs before they arise. Your ability to act before being asked keeps your OR running smoothly.

4. Attention to detail

Diligent observation is essential for an operating room nurse. Also important is the ability to maintain focus for long periods of time, even when that means ignoring a full bladder or a growling stomach.

5. Critical decision-making

Anything can happen in the operating room. Unexpected changes require the OR nurse to jump into action, intervening at a moment's notice for the best patient outcome.

6. Good knees (and compression stockings)

Those poor legs, being stood on for hours and hours a day, require a strong set of knees and a supportive pair of compression stockings to help alleviate any fatigue.

7. Sense of humor

You deal with medical crises, patient crises, and inter-personal crises all day long. If you couldn't laugh about it, you'd go crazy. Having a sense of humor and sharing a chuckle with your colleagues gets you through those tough days.

8. Layers

As most perioperative nurses know, ORs can feel like ice boxes. A scrub jacket or two can help alleviate the cooler temperatures.

9. Compassion and empathy

You care for patients when they're at their most vulnerable, when they can't speak for themselves. You support them, not just because of the care you give, not just because you keep your wits about you, but because you act as their guardian angel, their cheerleader, their advocate.

Your turn

Are you an OR nurse? What goes into your toolkit?