Wednesday 29 June 2011

'I have a confession to make, I found theatre nursing boring'

Student nurse, Claire Aubrey, did not take to theatre nursing and found the environment uncomfortable and alien.

During my recent placement on a surgical ward I was given a week's pathway in theatres in order to find out as much about theatre as I could and gain an insight into the variety of operations that take place there.

I have a confession to make.

While it was interesting in parts and there was so much to learn, in all honesty, I found it a little boring. Frighteningly, operations can go on for up to 17- 18 hours probably longer and, although I did not stay that long in any of them, a ten hour stint can be a typical day for observation.

I think that I have taken away with me as much as I could from the experience but I did find it hard to muster the same enthusiasm that I deliver on the ward every day. Already tired and anxious, I would find myself summoning my wide smile and look of inquisitive interest every morning, feeling it drain from my body as the day progressed.

I found it quite amusing how keen I was to please and whenever asked, I would gush about how amazing it had been and what a great experience it was. Is honesty the best policy in this case? It felt unprofessional to say anything other than positive things but I would never choose theatre for my career and I am relieved that I will not be venturing there again.

I saw a wide variety of procedures from cataracts to hip replacements right through to caesarean sections. It was the first time that I had ever seen a new-born baby and, although I am not a baby person, I felt a wave of emotion at this miracle. However, each process was intricate and pain-staking and I could not help but feel a little sorry for the scrub nurse wiho had to stand still for hours, not even handing over equipment, with a dry throat, dry eyes and a sore back.

It occurred to me during this time that work in theatres does not seem to be nursing in the way I think of it and not in the way it is generally portrayed.

Scrub nursing seems to be a distinctly different type of job altogether, and likely connected, for this reason, to the emergence of the Operating Department Technician role. In all honesty, I could not relate to it, not seeing the patient awake, no talk, no holistic care. Everything seemed as clinical as the environment in which it took place and I felt isolated and removed from the patient in a way that was uncomfortable and alien.

I did get to scrub in for one of the procedures and, whilst initially thrilling, the magic soon wore off and eventually I was doing the same process over and over again. I could not say of this job that every day would feel different to me and this was one of my major draws into nursing. I could not leave this feeling behind to go into theatres – the dynamism and the variety of dealing directly with such a wide range of people.

I will always appreciate my time in theatres as it is a unique experience and one which gives great insight into the surgical patient. I also greatly admire those who have the patience and skill to work there. A major attraction to nursing for me was how diverse the fields are in which you can work.

However, I think it may be one field that I will be crossing off my list for the foreseeable future.

Source: Nursing Times.net


About The Operating Theatre Journal

The Operating Theatre Journal, OTJ, is published monthly and distributed to every hospital operating theatre department in the UK. The distribution includes both the National Health Service and the Private Sector.

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