Surgical nurse

Matt Dobry has worked as a surgical nurse at Greater Baltimore Medical Center for the last 5 years. Here he writes about his profession. What does your job entail? There are many aspects to my job that the average person may not think of as "nursing". The most important thing I do is act as the patient advocate. I follow the policies and procedures of the hospital to make sure the safety of the patient is at the forefront of everything we do. I am able to perform two jobs in the operating room: circulating nurse and scrub nurse. As a circulating nurse (working outside the sterile field), I am usually one of the last people to speak with the patient prior to surgery. Every patient is nervous no matter how minor we may consider a procedure. I use therapeutic communication to help soothe the patient and assure them and their family that we will do the best we possibly can for them. Once in the operating room, my job is very task oriented. It includes, but is not limited to, getting medications, setting up equipment, intraoperative documentation, and getting supplies to pass into the sterile field. As a scrub nurse, my job includes setting up all the instrumentation used in the procedure, insuring sterility is maintained, and assisting the surgeon to the full extent as my scope of practice allows. What kind of schooling or training did you go through? I attended Towson University and received a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing. The nursing program was 2 years full time (after completing all the prerequisites) and included both classroom instruction and clinical experience. Near the end of the 2 year program, we are sent to work in a nursing environment where we are mentored by an employee of the facility. This is where a student nurse gets a real chance to experience what your future career will hold for you. I was lucky enough to do my pacticum in the surgical environment. I was also lucky enough to realize the operating room was the best place for me. After graduating from nursing school, all Registered Nurses are required to pass a licensing exam. Median salary: Statistics could not be found for the specialty, but median for registered nurses is $64,690, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What inspired you to this career? Nursing is my second career. After working in foodservice for 16 years, I stopped working outside the home and stayed home to raise my children and run my household. While I stayed home , my wife, also a nurse, was our sole financial support. Once all my children were in school full time, my wife and I discussed what I should do. She suggested going into nursing. I had observed how nursing had been for her over the years and decided to look into it. I was nervous about dealing with patients at their most vulnerable time. I was not sure if I could show the empathy required to be a good nurse. As it turned out, this was the part of nursing that I felt was my strongest attribute. Also, at that point in my life, I wanted to be somewhat assured I would get the job I went to school to learn and at that time there was a nursing shortage. While I may not have had the calling to nursing growing up as many do, I found my calling later and have never regretted it. What do you like best about your job? The aspect I enjoy most in my job is knowing that I am helping patients through what could possibly be one of the most difficult episodes in their life. Also ... I am fascinated by the highly specialized instruments we use every day. I also enjoy the people I work with. In the operating room there are several differing roles, but we all work together as a team to help ensure the patient has the best possible outcome. What are the challenges? There are challenges to being an operating room nurse, but I fear the greatest challenges are yet to come. With the changes in healthcare on the horizon, I'm fearful patients will not be treated as individuals with specific needs but as an ailment whose treatment is determined by someone that does not know the patient or may not even be a medical professional.
Courtesy of Greater Baltimore Medical Center
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