• 20 February 2020
  • 4 min read

What does a Theatre Nurse do?

  • Karen Landels
    Theatre Staff Nurse
"This is a challenging, demanding role and there are days where it feels as though I need to split myself into three"

I am a Charge Nurse in a busy 11 theatre suite. This is what goes on behind the operating room door - an insight into theatre nursing by a charge nurse.

What goes on behind the operating room doors?

I am a charge nurse in a busy 11 theatre suite, primarily based in the Max Fax specialism but also cover most other specialties.

This is a challenging, demanding role and there are days where it feels as though I need to split myself into three.

However, at the end of the day I always feel rewarded.

Theatre nursing is an enigma to most people: patients are brought to the anaesthetic areas and then the door is closed.

What goes on behind these doors?

This was a question I have been asked several times throughout my career.

Suggestions of ‘you just give the doctor what they need’, ‘you just watch the operation’ are common threads.

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A few years ago I wrote a piece to try and offer insight to what we do every day of the year.

As a department we have recently delivered an information session to nursing students in an attempt to increase recruitment to this specialist area.

I used the following as the basis of my talk to give students an understanding of the actuality of the role.

I hope it helps other nurses and those considering this specialism understand what we get up to in theatre!

Pre-operative checks

I may be the first person to wish you good morning, to ask if you have your stockings on, to confirm if you maybe pregnant or whether your teeth are wobbly, capped or crowned.

I may be the first person you feel you can voice your fears to.

Anaesthetics

I may be your hand holder as you drift off to sleep, offer gentle words of reassurance as you wonder if you will wake up, or distract you while needles are inserted in various parts of your body.

I may be the one who runs for the crash trolley as you take a reaction to a drug you have been given.

Reassurance

I may be the person who holds your hand as you have a cancer removed from your face, wisdom teeth extracted or who helps to fix your broken jaw.

I may be the person you tell you have not yet recovered from the death of a loved one.

Being proactive

I may be the one who helps remove your troublesome tonsils, takes a tumour from your thyroid or straightens your broken nose.

I may be the one who gives your mummy a cuddle as she leaves the room.

Team member

I may be asked to hand off your grumbling gallbladder, hold open your abdomen or offer assistance to a team of highly skilled, quick thinking, caring individuals who have spent the last seven hours fighting to make you well.

I may be the one to support my team after you pass away on the table before us.

Surgical support

I may be the person who helps position you to allow your broken hip to be replaced, washout an infected dog bite to your hand or handover the pins, plates or screws to piece together your arm after you fell from your trampoline.

I may be the one who cleans up your abscess after you became infected during your drug addiction.

Multi-tasking

I may be the one who has ensured the equipment needed to remove your cancer ridden womb is readily available, who has supported, educated and guided newly qualified students, stood up for young doctors under pressure to perform.

I may be the one who has wiped the tears of others and my own.

Births and arrivals

I may be the one who supports you during one of the most amazing times of your life, be the first to hold your new born baby and welcome them to this world.

I may be the one who has to wrap your baby in a bag and hand over to the skills of my colleagues to resuscitate within seconds of them being born.

The most amazing job

I may be the one who hands over the knife to incise your abdomen from top to bottom, to hold a pack to a bleeding vessel or pass the suture to save you bleeding to death.

I may be the one who doesn’t eat, drink or go to the toilet for eight hours...

I may be the one who has the most interesting, varied and rewarding job.

I am a Theatre Staff Nurse.

  • Karen Landels
    Theatre Staff Nurse

About the author

  • Karen Landels
    Theatre Staff Nurse

I am a Charge Nurse in a busy 11 theatre suite, primarily based in the Max Fax specialism but also cover most other specialties.