Perioperative & Surgical Nursing

Perioperative & surgical nursing is a specialty focused on providing direct care to patients before (preoperative), during (intraoperative) and immediately following (postoperative) a surgical procedure. A profession in perioperative nursing requires an understanding of normal anatomy and physiology, keen assessment and monitoring skills, vast knowledge of invasive procedures, and ongoing education related to the management of patients undergoing surgery. Before surgery, nurses obtain a medical history, assess laboratory tests, prep the patient for surgery, and educate the patient and family on the procedure to be performed. Scrub nurses work within the operating room preparing and sterilizing instruments, providing tools needed during the procedure and assisting with other tasks. Circulating nurses manage the overall operating room to ensure the environment is safe and remains sterile. Registered nurse first assistants may suture cuts, control and monitor bleeding, and perform other complex duties. Post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) nurses manage patients in the immediate postoperative period. They assess for infection, shock, bleeding and other complications, manage pain, change wound dressings, and provide discharge teaching to the patient and family. Perioperative nurses may work in a variety of settings including hospital surgical departments, ambulatory surgery units, outpatient clinics or physician offices and may focus on a subspecialty such as cardiac surgery, trauma, pediatrics, oncology, plastic and reconstructive, urology and neurosurgery.

In this Perioperative & Surgical Nursing Resource Center, we’ve put together resources to help you provide the best care to patients undergoing operative procedures. Our Nursing Pocket Cards are quick references and our Guideline Summaries provide need-to-know information from the latest recommendations. Our infographics, tips and mnemonics, and blogs are additional resources to help you during your perioperative and surgical nursing career.

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