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What is a theatre nurse?

A theatre nurse works alongside healthcare professionals such as surgeons, anaesthetists, operating department practitioners (OCDP), porters and theatre support workers as part of their team. Their duties are to care for patients of all ages before, during or after their surgery. This type of nursing is also known as perioperative care.

What does a theatre nurse do?

Some of the duties of a theatre nurse are to 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 – checking on patients as they come round from their anaesthetic and monitoring them until they’re ready to be discharged back to the ward.

Current demand for theatre nurses

One catastrophic effect of COVID-19 has been the mass cancellation of elective surgery. Consequently, 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 in 2021, it was estimated that 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 are the entry requirements for theatre nursing, 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 theatre nursing requirements to work with the Thornbury Nursing Services team.

Where do theatre nurses 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.

Desirable theatre nurse skills

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
  • Ability 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

Theatre nursing 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.

What is a theatre nurse’s salary?

As a theatre nurse, you’ll typically start at Band 5 of the Agenda for Change (AFC) pay system. This equates to a range of £25,665 – £31,534 depending on experience. Here at Thornbury Nursing Services, we pride ourselves on paying exceptional nursing agency pay rates.

Theatre nursing roles with Thornbury

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 and fantastic pay rates from us. If you are a qualified theatre nurse and are looking for roles with high pay rates and exclusive benefits, we highly recommend registering with us today! We have roles across England and Wales – contact our helpful team for more information.

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