When I was entering the unknown field of OR nursing, I didn’t quite understand how much nurses played a role in providing patient care. Of course, after being a novice nurse just shy of my one year anniversary… I had this realization that the “small” tasks my coworkers and I do, make the biggest difference between life or death.
You always work as a team in the OR. Every team member has a specific duty that they are responsible for. Surgeons perform the operation with a great deal of concentration and technique. Scrub technicians prepare the sterile field and anticipate the surgeon’s needs. Anesthesiologists are responsible for sedating patients, maintaining their airways, and monitoring their vital signs. As a circulating nurse, you are responsible for the patient and as well as anticipating the needs of everyone in the room. You grab medications for the anesthesiologist, you run to get an instrument the scrub tech asks for, you pull the microscope in for the surgeon to use, and you advocate for the patient during a time they are the most vulnerable.
When we interview our patients before surgery, it is our only time that we are able to speak to them before they are sedated. After asking the essential questions, I always ask if they have any questions for me before going inside the operating room. One of my patients looked at me with hesitation and asked, “Am I going to die?” As a nurse, I empathized with my patient. I felt her pain, her uncertainty, and how vulnerable she felt. I told her how it is one of the risks for surgery and how I would get one of the surgeons to talk to her once more. The surgeon comforted her and before bringing her in, I stood at the foot of her gurney so she could see my face. I grabbed her hand and told her everything will be okay. “You are at the right place getting this done. I understand that you may be really scared, but you are in the best hands. I am here for you and I will update your family.”
As she scooted herself from the gurney to the operating room table. She looked at me and told me, “Thank you.” These are the moments that I realize… Patients put their whole life in our hands. We are the people that they trust the most with their life. As I clock out at 1930, I am exhausted… and then I’m ready to do it all over again at 0700 because I really do enjoy what I do as a career.