Nursing 101 Understanding the Role of Nurses During Surgery








A nursing career is one of the most meaningful on the planet. It is very gratifying to help someone who is injured or sick begin to understand the condition and learn how to treat it. A surgical nurse plays an especially vital role in assisting the doctor who is performing the procedure. Several important skills must be mastered for this exciting and challenging job.

Know the doctor

This does not mean that the nurse must know the doctor on a personal basis. The nurse might not have even met the doctor before, although usually they are acquainted to some degree and may have worked together previously. Rather, the nurse must be familiar with the doctor’s role in the surgery as to what will be done, how, and the role that the nurse plays in supporting the process. If there are any questions as to how things will unfold, the nurse should ask in advance to be prepared.

Understand the patient

A surgical nurse must also understand the patient’s needs during the operation. There may be several doctors and nurses in the operating room, each one participating in a specific function for the patient’s well-being. The nurse must realize what the patient needs and be prepared to provide it. Usually the nurse’s role is to assist the doctor by preparing equipment, handing and receiving tools or supplies to the surgeon, and monitoring the patient, who may be unconscious or awake, but will likely be experiencing some type of anesthesia. The nurse should read the patient’s chart to learn any special needs or conditions the patient may have and be ready to point things out to the surgeon or other medical staff, if needed.

Assist with the procedure

Each procedure is unique, even though a nurse may have assisted with hundreds of the same type of operation. For example, the role of nurses in organ transplants will generally follow the same steps. But each patient is different, and no two procedures play out exactly the same way. The nurse must be prepared by understanding the patient’s needs and knowing what the doctor will do and expect of the nurse. For his or her part, the nurse must be ready at just the right time to play his or her part on cue.

A nurse’s role during surgery is a critical part of an operation. Nurses must be adequately prepared to do quality work in assisting the doctor and protecting the patient.

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