Daily Life of a Theatre Nurse

My second placement was at a private hospital, working in theatre. This was completely different to my first placement so I had a lot to learn. What I could touch, where I could stand and looking after patients who are under anaesthetic.

For this placement I would work three long days and then one shorter day. I was lucky to have the opportunity to observe thirty-six different procedures during my eight weeks there. This placement was fabulous for my anatomy and physiology knowledge!

As my post about my typical day in the nursing home was so popular, I thought I would share with you how I would spend my days in theatre.

06:00 – Wake up! I would travel to the hospital in my own clothes so I would just throw on some jeans before going downstairs for breakfast.
06:45 – Leave for the shift! It would take me around half an hour to travel to this placement, luckily at this time in the morning I didn’t get stuck in any traffic.
07:15 – Park up and make me way up to the theatre. I would get changed into scrubs (which are as comfy as pyjamas!) and join the nurses in the anaesthetic room. I had long hair during this placement so my top tip if you are trying to get long, thick hair into a scrub hat – plait it first!
07:30-08:00 – I would review the theatre list for the day and set up the theatre with the necessary equipment and tray sets. I would also help the nurse in the anaesthetic room to get the medications ready.
08:00-08:30 – Team briefing with the consultants. Here we would discuss the theatre list for the day and if there were any concerns with any of the patients.
08:30-13:00 – The patient would be collected from the ward and taken into the anaesthetic room. I would assist the anaesthetist to anaesthetise the patient or help the scrub nurse to set out the instruments in theatre. The patient would usually spend around half an hour in the anaesthetic room before being taken through to theatre. As a team we would then go through the safety checks before the operation begins. During the procedure I would hand things to the scrub nurse, clear away used items, monitor the patient and document our work. Once the procedure was completed, the patient would go through to recovery where I would monitor them and complete the necessary checks before sending them back down to the ward or I would stay in theatre to do a thorough clean and set up for the next operation. This process was repeated until midday.
13:00-13:30 – Lunchtime! This time would vary depending on the theatre list.
13:30-17:30 – The afternoon would run similarly to the morning. The length of time each procedure took varied from thirty minutes to over three hours so some days we would do multiple procedures in one day and others only a couple. Just to give you an example, I observed hernia repairs, extractions of cataracts and insertions of lenses, skin grafts, total knee and hip replacements, septoplasty, transurethral resections of the prostate, breast augmentation, hysterectomy, abdominoplasty and an open reversal of Hartmann’s procedure.
17:30-18:00 – I would help with one final clean of the theatre before changing back into my own clothes and driving home.
18:45 – I would get home around this time, have dinner, make my lunch for the next day, do a workout and relax before going to bed.

This placement taught me just how much theatre nurses do. Their role isn’t just to care for the patient whilst they are in theatre. It is to care for the patient pre-operatively, whilst in anaesthetics, during surgery and once they are in recovery. The best thing about this placement was seeing how the nurses, theatre support workers and consultants work as a united team. They all worked together to achieve the best outcome for the patient.

On this placement I was also working with another student who is a year ahead of me. We quickly become great friends and really helped each other throughout the placement.

I feel this placement will help me in the future when I come to care for patients who have just returned from theatre as I now have better understanding of what they go through pre-operatively, during anaesthetics, in surgery and in recovery.


One thought on “Daily Life of a Theatre Nurse

  1. Glad you enjoyed the placement! I’ve worked in intensive care as well as the operating room (or Theatre- which I would love if we would adopt that term). While vastly different skill sets, I valued each one immensely and loved both roles!

    Liked by 1 person

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