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'In theatre everything was so different from what I'm used to'

  • Comments (3)

As nurses and student nurses we get used to being put in some quite extraordinary places.

There are times when we can become almost immune to these unique situations. However, my first real experience in an operating theatre was certainly one of the most exceptional things I have done as a student nurse.

From the strange process of scrubbing up to get myself completely clean to the preparations made on the unconscious patient - everything was so far removed from what I was used to.

I was worried how I would react. I like to think I’m fine around blood and open wounds but I’ve never been in a situation where a wound has been created. 

What also concerned me is that I couldn’t take a back seat.

I was one of the few people that could interact with the patient and surgeon. I would be expected to help out and to pass instruments. This made me feel a little bit of pressure but I was also extremely grateful.

Having spoken to other students there is a risk that all you get to see is the back of a surgeon or a nurse peering into a cavity. I was going to get the opportunity to get a fantastic view at an important and varied part of nursing and I didn’t want to waste it.

The operation went on for about 30 minutes and we were repairing a hernia on a middle-aged man. It wasn’t the most extensive of surgeries but it was a great introduction and as I have another four weeks left on this elective surgical placement I’m looking forward to many more experiences in the operating theatre.

I’ll leave you with the advice given to me by the nurse in charge: “Make sure you have some breakfast and if you’re going to faint make sure you faint away from the patient.”

How did you find your first time in an operating theatre?

If you are yet to go, what concerns you most or what are you most looking forward to the most?

  • Comments (3)

Readers' comments (3)

  • Little One

    “Make sure you have some breakfast and if you’re going to faint make sure you faint away from the patient.”

    Very good advice. I am not squeamish at all and happily watched extensive surgeries and was shown by a wonderful surgeon all of the internal organs, including craning my neck and being told to shove the assisting surgeon out of the way to see into the thoracic cavity and get a look at the heart! (I didn't actually shove him, he kindly stepped back and let me have a good look) I love wounds and wound care and the only thing that makes my stomach turn is the sound of someone producing a sputum sample.

    However! Despite knowing that I was fine with blood and gore I still collapsed within 5 minutes of entering the operating theatre. Apparently it is something to do with the gases in the air which you get used to as you spend more time in theatre but my constitution was quite sensitive to! I didn't quite collapse but that is only because the lovely, strong, 6ft 6 anaesthetist caught me and gently lowered me to the floor!

    I had a brilliant time once I had recovered and had been given some water and biscuits but I would definitely make sure that if I started to feel funny again I would take the advice I was given and immediately sit on the floor!

    I enjoyed the novelty of theatres and liked being able to see the inside of the body and marvel at how it all fits in there and works(!!) but, I wouldn't want to work there, not quite enough patient interaction for me, I like my washing and dressing.

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  • I watched a couple of revisions of amputations in theatres on a surgical ward placement. I was quite shocked at the instruments in use. The saws really did look like something you'd pick up at your local hardware shop!
    The patient's leg looked like a leg of lamb from a cookery show and the surgeons had to saw quite hard to get through the overgrown bone at the stump. I kept expecting them to rub some olive oil and rosemary on the patient's leg!

    All joking aside, it enabled me to empathise with my patient's experience of pain in a deeper manner and to be that friendly face there for him when he came around from the anaesthetic.

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  • Remember my first surgical op, much like the one described above it was a left above knee amputation. The sound was absolutely horrendous ( perhaps all surgeons should do a bit of joinery in the summer hols when they are students so they really know how to use these tools.) and when it was finished the surgeon threw the leg at me with a spirited 'CATCH!!'. Legs are extremely heavy, as anyone of you who has been booted up the jacksie will testify!

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