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Career Story: Operating Room Nurse On The Night Shift

Operating Room Nurse On The Night Shift

Job Title: Operating Room Nurse

Type of Company: I work in a Boston teaching hospital.

Education: BSN, Fitchburg State College

Previous Experience: I worked for a year on a surgical thoracic floor and got laid off. I was able to apply elsewhere in the hospital and thought I'd try the operating room because I liked surgery.

Job Tasks: I work the night shift, so I'm considered a trauma nurse in the OR. The cases at night aren't scheduled. They are usually emergencies or urgent. We see many different types of surgery at night. Because the cases aren't scheduled, you never know what you will be doing when you come in.

There are two different roles a nurse typically has in the OR. The circulator meets the patient, checks to make sure all of the correct paperwork is present, keeps the patient comfortable, and answers questions the patient and his family may have. The circulator also helps the surgeon, anesthesiologist and the scrub nurse. Lastly, there is a computer record of the surgery that has to be maintained.

The scrub nurse assists the surgeons during the procedure. Different surgeries require different instrumentation and supplies. The scrub nurse and the circulator open all of the supplies sterilely and then the scrub goes to wash up or "scrub". We use special soaps to clean our hands and forearms and then we are ready to gown and glove up! The scrub nurse then sets up the table that holds all of the instruments and supplies so that it is easy to work off of.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is being able to relieve the patient's pain and of course the worst is when you can't.

Job Tips: I found it helpful to work as a nursing assistant during high school and college. I started in a nursing home to see if I liked working with patients. Once I was in college, I worked in a hospital. The hospital that I worked in had a student nurse program. I was able to shadow a nurse for the summer. I did things like blood pressures and got to learn so much from the nurse who was teaching me.

Additional Thoughts: There are so many great things about nursing. I've worked many different schedules to fit in with my families schedule. I've worked weekends only doing two 12 hour shifts, I've done M-F 7-3pm, and I've done nights. I've worked on a surgical thoracic floor, a cardiac access unit (angioplasties, cardiac stents) and now the OR. There are so many options from hours to where you can work. It is also rare to have layoffs in this field.

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