An operating room registered nurse is in charge of taking care of patients during three stages of a patient’s hospital stay: before, during, and after surgery. In addition to the knowledge needed by other types of nursing specialties, an operating room nurse must be prepared to provide healthcare using the specialized tools and equipment in an operating room. Also known as a perioperative nurse, this nursing specialty plays a critical role in inpatient care.

Responsibilities of an Operating Room Registered Nurse

The responsibilities of a registered nurse working in the operating room can be immense. Specialized operating room nurses, known as scrub nurses, are responsible for handing the correct surgery tools to the operating physician. Other operating room nurses, typically known as circulating nurses, are responsible for making sure that the operating room and procedure remain sterile and safe for the patient.

Other responsibilities of an operating room registered nurse include:

  • Cleaning operating surfaces
  • Sterilizing medical instruments
  • Developing patient care plans
  • Maintaining patient files
  • Answering post-surgery questions

Job Opportunities for Operating Room Nurses

Most job opportunities available for operating room nurses are found within hospitals. However, registered operating room nurses are needed in a variety of healthcare settings that provide medical treatment. Cancer centers and traveling operating rooms offer job opportunities for operating room nurses, as do surgical centers.

Job Hours for Operating Room Nurses

Most medical facilities try to schedule surgeries for daytime hours. But operating room nurses are also needed for emergency medical procedures. While some operating nurses may be able to enjoy a 9 to 5 rotation, others will need to work overnight and on-call hours.

Skill Set for Operating Room Nurses

Operating room nurses will need to be licensed registered nurses. They will also need to be able to work as part of a team, because the operating room is full of complex and skilled individuals. The ability to respect others within the operating room will separate good operating room nurses from bad ones.

Nurses also need to have the following skills in order to function well in the operating room:

  • Advanced communication skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Concern for details
  • Problem-solving