Perioperative nursing encompasses many specialties in the health care field. A perioperative nurse works in close collaboration with physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. The majority of practitioners will be board certified but there are some who are not. They also have specialized training in specific areas of medicine such as anesthesiology, oncology, pediatrics, or women's health. In most states, they are required to have taken at least three years of pre-med class work in a nursing program.
A perioperative nurse typically works in a hospital or medical facility where a surgeon or other medical professional is operating. It is their job to provide basic care for the patient before the procedure. They are responsible for cleaning bedpans, emptying catheters, preparing patients for procedures such as enemas, drawing blood, or administering medications. They may also assist in the placement of equipment or assist the surgeon by passing instruments around them. As an integral part of their job responsibilities, they are usually involved in the monitoring and recording of vital signs of the patient, as well as the administration of anesthesia.
Because they are a key component of the surgical team, it is important that perioperatively trained nurses understand how to take accurate notes during surgery. Recording the time of each patient and anesthesia type is a critical part of their job and the process of documentation helps to support their case if asked to review it later. Additionally, they are often required to assess the surgical site, its dressing, the level and nature of pain and bleeding, and the patient's overall condition.
When nurses perform tasks beyond those of a perioperative nurse, they are known as an anesthesiologist. Anesthesiologists also coordinate the flow of drugs and medical equipment used in the surgery and oversee the supervision of the nurses. In general, an anesthesiologist has more duties than a nurse, since he or she must coordinate the use of anesthesia as well as oversee its administration. An anesthesiologist is often the primary medical contact with the patient, so they must be skilled at providing accurate, timely and gentle care. Because they often provide cardiac and respiratory assistance, they are specially trained to recognize heart irregularities, breathing difficulties or other problems that may occur during surgery.
Another key function of an anesthesiologist is the monitoring and recording of vital signs of the patient. An anesthesiologist is usually the one who administers the anesthetic agent and prepares the IV lines for the patient. They are also responsible for the initial evaluation of the patient and ensuring that he or she is improving before any anesthesia is administered. Anesthesiologists may also provide instructions to the attending nurses and other medical staff regarding the procedure, such as what foods to avoid, how much sleep to expect, and any known side effects of anesthesia.
The responsibilities of an anesthesiologist don't end there, however. Once surgery has been performed and the patient is discharged, they . . . . . . must stay in the hospital to recover until the next day, when they may be called upon to help with daily operations. Anesthesiologists may even be asked to supervise the activities of other staff members, such as the catheter technician or the EKG technician. If a nurse is not available for these activities, the anesthesiologist will have to handle these duties himself. Overall, this job requires a great deal of patience, skill and knowledge, as well as knowledge of the anatomy of the body.