How did your nursing journey begin?
I started out as a volunteer when I was 13. Candy striped at a local hospital for years. I had looked up to my older cousin who had just started a career in nursing and I wanted to see if that path might be good for me as well because I had been enjoying my time as a volunteer. I found that I loved to advocate for doing what was right for those in need so it only made sense to pursue nursing. Advocacy has always been #1 in my heart and soul.
How did you get into surgical nursing?
For 10+ years I had more of emergency background. I was an EMT- paramedic, worked in the ED as a tech, helped teach EMT students, and even did a life flight internship. This type of nursing felt like second nature to me! So I had always just thought the ED was my calling, until I had a shadowing experience in my nursing program that allowed me to be in the operating room for a day. During an orthopedic surgery, both the surgeon and the nurse practitioner were very knowledgeable and more than welcoming of a student. They taught me so much and their passion for their careers just inspired me to want to have that same spark and I had begun feeling a spark by the end of the day about being in surgery… it was almost like love at first sight.
What is your typical day like in the OR?
Surgeries typically start at 7:30am. And depending on my assignment, it could be 4 cases or 10 that I am assigned to do. I sometimes “float” throughout all of the surgeries for the day. Actually, duties in the OR are truly never ending but to sum it up the best way possible, we clean and set up our rooms (supplies, equipment, medications) for that procedure then we check our patients history, get report, interview and question the patient, make sure that patient is properly prepared, discuss the anesthesia plans with the anesthesia team. Once in the operating room, I am side by side with my nurse Anesthetists or anesthesiologist for induction and intubation. Then safely move, position, secure, and prep my patient. While running the equipment and running for any potential needs of the surgeon, I’m charting and watching the case so that I can anticipate any needs while keeping one ear to the surgical field and the other to the anesthesia provider for any complications. A multitude of multitasking. Not many OR nurses scrub, however I do. I find it to be most beneficial to be able to perform the entire perioperative process (pre-OP, intra-OP, scrub, recovery, sterile processing, and evs). Case loads vary and I am personally more of an orthopedic circulator but I have training from general to open heart to robotics.
A typical day in surgery is like a very fast paced, same day show event. You need to make sure all the main performers have everything they need in order to get the show on the road, all while making sure you’re 10 steps ahead for the next show! Organized chaos sometimes but always geared toward teamwork.
What do you like most about being in the OR?
What I like most about being a surgical nurse is being able to give my patient the kind of care that I would like to receive. It’s very rewarding and heartfelt with all the powerful impacts we make to patients and their families in some of the most vulnerable of times. It is truly an honor to get to be that voice and strong presence for my patients. The biggest piece of advice, would be to spend a few full shifts shadowing in the operating Room to see if it’s an area you would see yourself performing in. It is a very tough field with all the personalities colliding and trying to properly balance being able to please everyone and do what’s right and being OK with standing your ground when you know something is right. You have to not be afraid to use your voice. We are the patient’s only line of defense once they’re asleep.
Any last thoughts about your role as an OR nurse?
Not very many patients get to have a strong advocating team on their side and I like to express to anyone new just how vital our role is in coordinating and carrying out our plans for surgery. We have to think on our feet, be swift and quick, and still deliver the highest quality of care to our patients and our entire team. You have to be very strong emotionally and physically.
*Thank you Jamie for sharing your nursing journey with us! If you would like to be featured OR have a nurse role you are interested of hearing more about message me at firstname.lastname@example.org. DM on Instagram: @Nurses_KC