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.
“Everything seemed clinical and I felt isolated and removed from the patient in a way that was uncomfortable and alien”
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.