Operating Nurse

Due to the nature of an operating nurse’s job, I couldn’t be in the operating room, but still was lucky to get a glimpse of what a nurse does. I spent time with Carol outside of the operating room and saw pictures of the equipment inside the room.

Carol starts work at 7:15 a.m. and finds out what type of surgery she will be helping with that morning. Her days vary as she could be in ENT surgery one day and ophthalmology or anything else another day. After finding out her assignment, she meets with the surgeon, the anesthetist, and the other nurses to complete a checklist and go over what is going on. Even at this point Carol might be switched to a different surgery so she always has to be on her toes. She has been switched five times in one day to different types of surgeries and most switches are due to cancellations and emergencies. 

Before surgery begins, Carol has to conduct a pre-surgery interview with the patient and help prepare the room, which includes counting the surgical instruments. I saw a list of instruments and was blown away by the amount of them—that is a lot of counting. She also has to prepare the narcotics, which are stored in a fingerprint-secured dispensing machine (awesome). During surgery she helps out, checks vital signs, and acts as a line of communication between the doctor and the parents. Carol’s day sounds like a very busy day, with a lot of time spent on her feet, and she says it goes by quickly because you are always moving. In fact, a lot of operating nurses don’t even have time to go to the washroom. 

Nursing is an incredibly rewarding job, but also has its challenges. There is a lot of equipment and instruments to be familiar with, which must be tough to learn. Also, you are working with a team every day so you have to learn how to get along with people you may not see eye to eye with. Finally, all the hospital records are becoming digital, which can be frustrating for older nurses 

A Typical Day

Since Carol is an operating nurse, she starts her day meeting with her staff and then can be in a surgery all day

Top 3 Perks

1) Helping people is rewarding 

2) Always learning and never a boring day 

3) A profession you can do anywhere (some of the nurses at Carol’s hospital travel to developing countries often) 

Job Culture

Counting instruments, standing for long periods of time, hauling equipment around a hospital, maintaining charts and records, performing physical exams, preparing drugs, always being alert.


1) Complete a 4-year undergraduate nursing program—When Carol became a nurse it only took her 2 years but now it takes 4

Skills Needed

Ability to handle stress and hectic situations calmly, able to calm people down, communication, decisive, physically fit.

The Field

- Educational requirements are changing because our knowledge of health care is increasing. 

- Nurses are in high demand but technology can replace a lot of their jobs.