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What is a Theatre nurse?

One catastrophic effect of Covid-19 has been the mass cancellation of elective surgery. As a consequence, there’s a significant backlog of planned surgery. In November 2020, according to a report in the BMJ, the number of patients waiting for treatment reached a record high of 4.46 million. And there are currently an estimated 2.3 million people waiting for surgery. In addition, a recent report by the Royal College of Surgeons recommended scheduling modifications to increase hospital capacity, including extending hours of elective surgery into the evening and during weekends.

As surgeons attempt to shorten their waiting lists and get back to some kind of normality, there’s no doubt that theatre nurses will be in greater demand than ever before to ensure that the workload from more procedures continues to run smoothly and safely.

What does a Theatre nurse do?

Theatre nurses work alongside other healthcare professionals as part of a team caring for patients of all ages, before, during or after their surgery. This is also known as perioperative care. As a theatre nurse, you’ll be involved in all four steps of a patient’s journey:

  • Before the operation – checking on their general health, helping them understand what their procedure involves, and answering any questions
  • While they’re being given anaesthesia – preparing specialist equipment, devices, and drugs for the anaesthetist
  • During surgery – carrying out a number of tasks such as preparing instruments and equipment and communicating between the operating team and other areas of the theatre or hospital. Scrub nurses pass equipment to the surgeon, while circulation nurses prepare theatre equipment, making sure that the correct surgical packs are ready and opened at the right time to avoid contamination
  • After surgery, during the recovery period – you’ll be checking on patients as they come round from their anaesthetic and monitoring them until they’re ready to be discharged back to the ward

What are the entry requirements, and what training do I need?

You’ll need to be registered as a nurse in one of the four different specialisms – adult, child, mental health or disability. Then you’ll need some further training to pick up the specialist skills you’ll need to become a theatre nurse.

Check out the requirements to work with the Thornbury Nursing Services team.

Where might I work?

Theatre nurses work in different hospital areas, including the anaesthetic room, operating theatres, and recovery wards. As well as working with a surgical team, theatre nurses can choose to work in many specialist therapy areas. For example, you might work with a team in the audiology department, fitting cochlear implants, or in a cardiology unit, assisting with fitting pacemakers.

What makes an excellent Theatre nurse?

Here are a few of the personal skills you’ll need to help with your career as a theatre nurse:

  • You’ll need to be a great team player
  • Having the technical know-how to use theatre equipment safely and competently
  • Staying calm under pressure
  • Being flexible so you can work on several tasks
  • Being well-organised
  • Able to concentrate for long periods
  • Having quick reactions during an emergency
  • Great attention to detail
  • Being comfortable spending much of the day on your feet

Career development?

Theatre nurses sometimes move on to becoming senior theatre nurses or into management, education or research. You could also train to be a surgical care practitioner.

Roles with TNS

We’re always looking for qualified theatre nurses to join our team to work in temporary, last-minute placements in NHS and private hospitals. You’ll need to work to our high standards and, in return, you’ll receive full professional support from us.

Check out the requirements to work with the Thornbury Nursing Services (TNS) team.

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