A Day in the Life of a Cincinnati Surgical Nurse

Cincinnati surgical nurses, including those working at St. Elizabeth Health Care, face diverse and challenging days. While no two days in the operating room may be alike, surgical nurses complete many standard responsibilities for patients in their care every day. Multiple patients, unique surgeries and collaboration with key health care professionals are important components of surgical nurses’ workday.

Surgical Preparation

Surgical nurses do not spend their entire workday in the OR. Some of them require work outside of the operating room and at the patient’s bedside. Surgical nurses’ roles also requires them to prepare the patient for surgery, a broad responsibility that includes several essential tasks. During this phase of the workday, surgical nurses perform detailed health assessments, in collaboration with other nurses or physicians, to evaluate the patient for surgery. Surgical nurses may also answer any questions the patient has about the upcoming surgery. Finally, surgical nurses prepare the patient for the surgery.

Operating Room Work

A surgical nurse may be assigned one of three roles in the operating room, and on any given day, the role may change. Scrub nurses, as the name implies, scrub in for the surgery and work in the sterile operating room environment. They stand beside the surgeon and pass instruments and sponges to the surgeon when requested. As a circulating nurse, the surgical nurse provides broader care within the operating room, assessing patient and staff comfort and providing any assistance as requested. The circulating nurse also ensures that the OR remains a safe and sterile environment for the patient. Finally, surgical nurses who have received advanced training may also work in the operating room as the RN first assistant. In this role, the surgical nurse provides more direct care in the OR by controlling bleeding or suturing wounds.

Post-Surgery Care

A surgical nurse’s day does not end when the surgery is over. Nurses continue to provide care for patients after the surgery is complete. During this part of the workday, surgical nurses coordinate and oversee the patient’s post-operative health care plan in a number of ways. They educate patients about post-surgical care, detailing follow-up appointments and home care for incisions, for example. Surgical nurses also monitor the patient’s emotional health to ensure he or she is equipped to handle the after-effects of surgery.


Surgical nurses may choose to specialize in a number of areas, including trauma, neurosurgery, cardiac surgery, pediatrics and plastic surgery. The type of surgeries they see every day, of course, is influenced by the nurses’ area of specialization. While many surgical nurses work in the hospital setting, not all do. The Nurses for a Healthier Tomorrow coalition reports that surgical nurses work in many environments, including hospital surgical departments, day surgery centers, clinics and physicians’ offices.


Cincinnati surgical nurses face many tasks every day on the job. Blending pre- and postoperative care with surgical assistance and monitoring in the operating room, these responsibilities are varied and essential to the success of the patient’s surgery. Surgical nurses work collaboratively with other members of the health care team to see patients through the surgical process, from pre-op assessment to post-op discharge.


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