As a seasoned (AKA old) perioperative nurse who is a new per diem OR nurse at Saint Vincent Hospital, I admit I am still passionate about what I do. Often, a perioperative nurse is thought to be the one who hides behind a mask, doesn’t like to talk to patients, and is more comfortable with the technical aspects of caring for the patient in the OR.
I feel I am different. I recall a mentor when I was orienting to the OR, who instilled in me that my patient was not the gall bladder or the hernia, but someone’s mother, father, spouse, or child. All patients should be treated with respect and dignity. I feel privileged to be able to make a patient’s visit to the OR one that is less frightening. I try to spend a few extra minutes in the holding area while interviewing the patient pre-operatively, being sure they are warm and comfortable, and by trying to instill a level of trust in us, in the few minutes allotted. This helps provide safe and competent care in the OR. With the strong support staff of resource nurses, staff nurses, and technologists, unfamiliar equipment becomes familiar. You are then able to teach others to reach their full potential. Policies, procedures, and cases change to meet the technical leaps and bounds we see daily.
Shirley Webber RN
I could never have imagined that the first laparascopic appendectomy that I took part in so many years ago that lasted over three hours would become a 15 minute procedure. A cataract patient who was immobilized with sandbags for two weeks post-operatively now leaves the OR to get off the stretcher to be discharged within an hour or so. The Coke bottle glasses of yester-year are now replaced with an implanted lens. Turnover time to me is far less important than quality patient care. Keeping the patient safe in the OR by careful planning, positioning, and temperature control are all part of the perioperative nurse’s role.
To provide safe medication to a patient who is unable to speak for himself is another aspect of quality care. To understand your patient’s interpretation of what their procedure is and to intervene when you realize that they may have questions is important. To be sure that site and side are marked pre-op and to be the champion that calls for a “time-out” prior to incision keeps your patient safe. To keep the environment quiet as the patient goes to sleep makes for a peaceful state. To develop that second sense when you anticipate a problem and to know how to handle it is a great asset in a nurse. Here at Saint Vincent Hospital, I am surrounded by wonderful, competent compassionate professionals who help me become a better nurse. I learn every day. As I see the sunset of my career approaching, I only hope that I have made a difference.
Shirley Webber RN, CNOR-Operating Room