Nurses can take on many different roles within the hospital setting. Those that specialize in perioperative care must have a slightly different skill set than other nurses within the organization. This role not only requires a special degree of attention to perioperative tasks, but also needs people who can help anxious patients as they prepare for surgery. Perioperative nurses interact with people who may have a wide variety of ailments. As such, skilled nurses often enter into this role after gaining a few years of experience in other disciplines.
According to the Association of PeriOperative Registered Nurses (AORN), a pre-surgery checklist often includes tasks such as identifying the patient, getting the proper consent forms signed, witnessing the marking of the site of incision and checking for allergies before anesthesia is administered.
Here are the top four skills that perioperative nurses should possess:
1. A calm demeanor
The ability to stay calm in difficult, even life-threatening situations is one of the top nursing skills that all professionals in the field should possess. Reacting to tough problems in a calm, calculated manner not only helps in making the correct decision, but also makes patients feel more comfortable. When helping patients before a major surgery, this skill is absolutely vital. Patients may be nervous, scared and anxious. But when they speak with a nurse who is calm, professional and funny, they're more likely to relax.
2. Top-notch IV skills
Before patients go into surgery, they may need one or more intravenous drips. And when those patients are nervous, it could make starting an IV more difficult. Veins are made of muscle, which can tense up and clamp down when someone experiences high levels of anxiety. Perioperative nurses should be able to start an IV quickly and efficiently. The EMT Spot recommended nurses focus on their hands when advancing the catheter to avoid accidental pull-outs. Rather than nudging the needle back to move the catheter forward, focus on keeping the needle steady and pushing the catheter through, even if it's a little difficult at first.
3. Confidence and optimism
While these may not immediately sound like skills, they are nevertheless something that every nurse should practice, especially those who care for patients pre-surgery. Much like having a calm demeanor, being confident and optimistic will go a long way toward making patients feel comfortable and relaxed. As Scrubsmag noted, confidence has a lot to do with how you see yourself. If nurses focus on developing their practical skills, they will be more confident in their abilities on the job. Patients will notice this and they will respond favorably.
A perioperative nurse's communication skills must be excellent. Often, nurses in these roles need to explain procedures to patients, relay information from physicians and take down details before the patient goes into surgery. Miscommunication at this stage could be highly damaging, so nurses need to be able to communicate information clearly and effectively.