• 17 June 2021
  • 7 min read

How I Became A Scrub Nurse And What The Job Is Like

  • Amira Begum
    Scrub Nurse
    • Mat Martin
    • Richard Gill
    • Laura Bosworth
    • Aubrey Hollebon
    • Rubiwa Begum
  • 2
  • 942
"On my first day in the spinal theatre, I didn’t know what to expect or even know what to do. I felt like a fish out of water." - Amira Begum, Scrub Nurse

Amira explains how and why she became a Scrub Nurse, her first job interview, and specialising in spinal surgery. Plus, she provides fascinating insight into a typical day’s work in theatre.

Topics Covered In This Article

I Knew I Wanted To Work In Theatre

My Scrub / Theatre Nurse Job Interview

My Six Month New Starter Rotation Programme

My Home Theatre - Trauma & Orthopaedics

Specialising In Spines

My First Spinal Procedure As A Scrub Nurse In An Operating Theatre

Conclusion

I Knew I Wanted To Work In Theatre

I qualified 12 months ago as an Adult Nurse and decided to go straight into theatres.

Most of my placements were general medical wards so when it came to applying for jobs, I wanted a change.

However, my only experience of theatres was when I went down with a patient (as a student nurse) for a surgical management of a miscarriage and I absolutely loved being in the theatre environment and that was the moment when I knew I wanted to work in theatres.

My Scrub / Theatre Nurse Job Interview

When it came to applying for the role, I was extremely anxious and apprehensive.

I had convinced myself I wouldn’t get the job as I had no theatre experience.

If I'm completely honest, I wouldn’t have even applied for the job if it wasn’t for my husband who kept encouraging me.

I had applied and not heard anything back for weeks and I was disheartened.

However, one day I had decided to check my junk mail and there it was, I had been invited for an interview. I was ecstatic!

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The interview process was daunting.

To prepare myself I had read up on the trust and what their policies were.

In addition to this I had also looked into the role of a Scrub Nurse which is the role that I wanted.

My interview was held over zoom.

The interviewers were both Band 7 Nurses  (a Scrub Nurse and an ODP!) They were lovely and put me at ease.

My interview questions covered:

● why I wanted to work in theatres

● why I think I would be good for the role

● what Trust values I possess

I was completely honest with them about having very little experience in theatres.

The Trust has a programme for “new starters” where they are put on rotation so they can have a taste of what each speciality is like.

That’s where I started.

My Six Month New Starter Rotation Programme

The Scrub Nurse / theatres rotation period is really helpful as you get to learn common procedures that could come in during the late and on-calls shifts.

In addition to this, it also lets you helps you choose which speciality is best suited to your skills and what speciality you’re actually interested in.

At my hospital there are multiple theatres:

● neuro theatre

● hybrid theatre (cardiac)

● laproscopic

● angio

● MRI

● emergency theatre

● burns theatre

● plastics ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat)

● PS&U (Paediatric Surgery and Urology)

● modular (scopes)

● opthalmics

● spines trauma & orthopaedics

My Home Theatre - Trauma & Orthopaedics

After I had completed my 6-month rotation, I found out my home theatre was going to be trauma and orthopaedics.

At first, I wasn’t the most excited about this as I enjoyed emergencies and PS&U (PS&U stands for ‘Paediatric Surgery and Urology’ theatres).

However, after consolidating in the theatre for 2 weeks before going into the numbers I really started to enjoy it.

Generally, in the trauma and orthopaedics theatre we tend to do trauma in the morning and an orthopaedic list in the afternoon.

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Do you have any questions about scrubbing?

Ask Amira below

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Most days the trauma list consists of things like:

● manipulation under anaesthetic

● insertion of TENS nails

● insertion of K-wires

In the afternoon our lists include thing like:

● insertion/removal of 8-plates

● removals of TENS nails

● change of hip spica casts

Specialising In Spines

Since consolidating in my “home theatre” I decided I wanted to challenge myself. I decided I wanted to try scrubbing for spines.

To be completely honest I was so nervous and scared.

I always saw spines as scary and complicated.

I think I saw the speciality this way because the procedures (posterior and anterior corrections) were long and they used a lot of trays.

On my first day in the spinal theatre, I didn’t know what to expect or even know what to do.

I felt like a fish out of water.

Every theatre has its own routine.

For example, in spines the first thing they do is clean the theatre in the morning along with the morning checks.

Also, we check the theatre list and make sure we have the right trays and consumables out.

If an x-ray is needed then we also try to book them as soon as possible. In addition to this step we call the ward, if it’s appropriate, to check out the female patients' menstrual status.

This is important to rule out any possible pregnancies in our patients.

My First Spinal Procedure As A Scrub Nurse In An Operating Theatre

My first spinal procedure was a posterior insertion of traditional growing rods. This procedure is often used as surgical intervention for patients with scoliosis.

Scoliosis is a spinal deformity where the curvature is sideways whereas the normal curvature is “S” shape when viewed from the side.

In this procedure the surgeon creates a midline incision and pedicle screws are inserted.

X-ray is used to see if they have been placed in the correct place.

Then rods and possibly hooks are also inserted to correct the scoliosis.

The growing rods are unique because not only do they correct the scoliosis they also grow with the patient.

Patients come back for the lengthening procedure.

The nature of this procedure means that there could possibly be a lot of blood loss so we use a cell saver.

The cell saver collects any blood lost so it can be directly transfused back to the patient.

We do this by washing the bloody swabs in clean saline then suctioning it into the cell saver.

Before closing the incision, we use the bonne collected during the procedure. We topically apply vancomycin which is an antibiotic.

Often times we stratafix sutures and opsite dressings on the wound.

Once the procedure is complete and the swab and instrument count is correct, we complete out sign out checklist to ensure the consented procedure has been carried out and that the swab count is correct.

Also, in this time we check that spinal monitoring is also adequate

After this the Scrub Nurse completes the patient care plan and hands over to the recovering practitioner.

The most important thing to remember in any surgical procedure as a Scrub Nurse is ensure that the swab and instrument count is correct.

A swab could easily be left in the patient.

This could cause possible harm to the patient and the Scrub Nurse is liable for all counts.

Conclusion

Despite scrubbing being slightly scary at times, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

It’s amazing that I am able to be a part of a team that literally is able to change a patient's life.

I love the job satisfaction I get at the end of the day.

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Do you have any questions about scrubbing?

Ask Amira below

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About the author

  • Amira Begum
    Scrub Nurse

I’m Amira, I qualified as an Adult Nurse over a year ago and I have been working in theatres since qualifying. I am an adult trained nurse working in a paediatric hospital. I specialise in spines, trauma and orthopaedics. Outside of work I am a keen baker and fitness enthusiast.

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  • Amira Begum
    Scrub Nurse

About the author

  • Amira Begum
    Scrub Nurse

I’m Amira, I qualified as an Adult Nurse over a year ago and I have been working in theatres since qualifying. I am an adult trained nurse working in a paediatric hospital. I specialise in spines, trauma and orthopaedics. Outside of work I am a keen baker and fitness enthusiast.

  • 2 Comments
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    • Ruta Baltruniene one month ago
      Ruta Baltruniene
    • Ruta Baltruniene
      one month ago

      Thanks Amira. Was very interesting to read your journey. Good luck 😉

      • Thank you! ☺️

        Replied by: Amira Begum
    • Rubiwa Begum one month ago
      Rubiwa Begum
    • Rubiwa Begum
      one month ago

      Woohooo thats my neice i love you and we are so proud of u our babygyal!!! ❤🥰😍😘🤩