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  • 01 December 2021
  • 6 min read

The Student Guide To Theatres

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    • Mat Martin
    • Laura Bosworth
    • Richard Gill
    • Sheri Gordon
    • Aubrey Hollebon
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Medical Staff in Surgery“Sometimes a diagnosis is made during a surgery and it will help you understand why patients are having certain symptoms.”

Amira gives us an overview of what you can do to make sure that you’re prepared for your Theatre placement.

Topics covered in this article


Theatre Preparation

Who’s Who?

Advanced Reading Is A Good Idea

What’s Expected Of You?

Final Thoughts

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I know how incredibly daunting it can be to step into Theatres for the first time.

This article will help you if you’re on Theatre placement or even if you decide to go down to Theatres with a patient to observe.

I think Theatres are a great placement or experience this is because you get to see how many different roles Nurses can play.

It can open you up to a new career path.

In addition, this can show you whether you’re actually cut out for Theatres or not.

Theatres aren’t for everyone.

Sometimes, you have a busy fast paced day in ENT or a slower paced day with one case all in Spines.

Also, not everyone is into blood and seeing patients undergoing surgery.

I always used placements to see whether a particular speciality would suit me.

Placements are also a great way to network, especially if you’re in an area where you really enjoy.

If you’re planning to go down to Theatre with a patient to observe a surgery it’s always a good idea to look up the procedure beforehand.

This is because if everyone is busy or suddenly the surgery takes a turn, there may not be time to explain the procedure.

Therefore, if you have already read up on it you will have some idea of what is happening.

Before you actually enter a Theatre, you will have to change out of your regular uniform and change into scrubs and put on Theatre shoes (these are usually crocs).

Often, you will be shown the changing rooms where you can change but I would advise leaving anything valuable in a secure place or keep them on your person.

Normally, in the changing rooms there’s lots of Theatre shoes where you should be able to find something to fit you.

If not, you can always ask the person who’s looking after you for some over shoe covers.

These are blue shoe covers that you wear over your normal shoes, so they can be worn in Theatre.

Most importantly, remember to wear a Theatre hat, as they are an essential part of the dress code.

Who’s Who?

A lot of Trusts have different coloured hats so they can distinguish who’s who.

For example, at my trust the team leader wears a red hat.

The red hat is in charge of the Theatre for the day, this is the person you’d go to first with any questions or queries you have.

When you’re new in Theatre, it’s always a good idea to introduce yourself to the team leader so they know who you are.

This protects you as then you will not be asked to do anything you’re not competent to do in case of an emergency.

Once you've introduced yourself, they’ll most likely run you through what list they have on and what you can expect to happen.

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Advanced Reading Is A Good Idea

If you’re on a Theatre placement, you will most likely have a mentor who you’ll work with or an assigned Theatre.

Either way I would always suggest checking what will be on the list for your next shift so you know what to expect.

For example, if you know you have a hernia list you can read up on hernias and herniotomies.

This will then make it easier for you if intend on scrubbing up for the procedure. Once you have read up on the surgery often times you can know what to expect and what the surgeons will want during the operation.

In addition to this, I would also recommend helping (or even observing) setting up for the next day's list.

This is a very easy way to learn about different times of surgeries.

This is because you can look up different surgeries and see what instrument trays and consumable items will be required.

If you’re prepping for the next day with your mentor this is where you can talk about the different kind of procedures they often carry out in the Theatre, so you have an idea of what to expect.

It's always good to ask questions, no matter what kind of placement you're in. Remember, no question is ever stupid.

It's always good to ask questions, no matter what kind of placement you’re in. Remember, no question is ever stupid.

What’s Expected Of You?

Once you have been on your placement for a few weeks there will be certain things that will be expected of.

Once you know the routine of your Theatres, you can come in and help set up Theatre.

For example, you would come in and make sure the lights are working, the diathermy machine and the suction is working.

You will be shown how to do all the Theatre checks when you first start.

After all the Theatre checks are done, you can check that everything is ready for the list.

Often, your mentor may ask you to check that the correct is equipment is out for the procedure.

Most Theatres have a form of “cheat sheet” where all the common or even not so common procedures they carry out they are written with an equipment list.

You can also help restock the Theatre when you see things are running low.

Often times things like: drapes, swabs and Theatres gowns always need to restocked on almost a daily basis.

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Final Thoughts

I always recommend students try scrubbing up as much as possible in Theatres.

This is because it may be the only Theatre placement you have but also because it can help you understand the pathology for some diagnosis.

Sometimes a diagnosis is made during a surgery and it will help you understand why patients are having certain symptoms.

I suggest students get their books signed as soon as they completed something because some days, you’re working with a staff member and then you don’t see them again for two weeks.

This is especially important in Theatres as often, the chances are if you haven’t had something signed you may end up not getting it signed.

At the end of the list, it’s always a good idea to debrief with your mentor in what you’ve done and what you can do better the next day.

This will allow you to grow and help you for when you are able to practice more independently.

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About the author

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.

    • Mat Martin
    • Laura Bosworth
    • Richard Gill
    • Sheri Gordon
    • Aubrey Hollebon
  • 0
  • 4787

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