Campus Alert: Find the latest UMMS campus news and resources at

Search Close Search
Page Menu

Discover Nursing!

3 Essential Things to Know About Perioperative Nursing

Friday, December 01, 2017
By:  Thereza Ayad

3 Essential Things to Know About Perioperative Nursing

When looking at the Perioperative nursing career, a nurse must first receive additional training to learn the roles of circulating and scrub nursing, as it is required for the role. Training requires a preparation course to learn the evidence-based practices and rationale for the completion of tasks or processes.  Additionally, training should include hands-on practicum in a lab to simulate scenarios that prepare the registered nurse for an on-site/hospital practicum with a preceptor. Furthermore, for additional resources, Perioperative nurses can choose to belong to their professional organization, the Association of PeriOperative Registered Nurses, to strengthen the practice of perioperative nursing.  The Association provides minimum practice standards and guidelines for safe practice.  Additionally, perioperative Registered Nurses can obtain the specialty credential Certified Nurse Operating Room (CNOR) through examination.

The Role in the Operating Room

There are three types of perioperative nurses: scrub nurse, circulating nurse, and the RN first assistant (RNFA). The circulating nurse serves as the "eyes and ears" of an anesthetized patient, oversees the procedure, and ensures the care team follows hospital policy and safety guidelines. The scrub nurse is responsible for providing the surgeon with the correct instruments during the operation. While each nurse plays a different role, they work together, focusing on one patient at a time in a fast-paced environment. The role of the perioperative nurse also requires a great deal of knowledge about anatomy, surgical instruments, and equipment. Special qualities of a perioperative nurse include meticulous attention to detail; for example, in surgical counts, sterile technique, room set up, and patient positioning.

How to Become a Perioperative Nurse

Most organizations require a candidate applying for a perioperative position to have prior experience or have completed a perioperative program. Completion of a perioperative program gives an applicant an edge over someone who has not completed a course. Employers know that Periop 101 is based on a solid curriculum grounded in evidence-based practice and additionally know that the student is provided the opportunity to hone skills in the classroom, simulation lab and practicum experience. The GSN program provides multiple learning modalities to ensure student success: faculty trained in perioperative nursing, online learning platforms, classroom activities, simulation lab, and a practicum experience. The GSN clinical coordinator arranges a practicum spot for each perioperative student in the program. The student is then provided the opportunity with a preceptor to complete at least 96 hours to perform in both roles of circulating and scrub nurse.

Why Do Nurses Choose to Work in Perioperative Field?

Perioperative nursing is rewarding in that most patients undergo a procedure that prolongs or improves the quality of their life. Only in perioperative nursing is the nurse able to care for one patient at a time. If you are interested in working in a fast paced environment where you are continuously learning, becoming a perioperative nurse sounds like the right career path for you!

Looking to enroll in Periop101 training? Click here to learn more about Graduate School of Nursing offerings

About Thereza Ayad

Thereza AyadThereza has been in the operating room setting since 2001 and held various positions as a Staff Nurse, Charge Nurse, Clinical Nurse Educator, and Assistant Nurse Manager all in the perioperative setting. Thereza has a BA in Anthropology, BSN in Nursing, MSN in nursing education and currently working toward a DNP.

Contact Thereza if you have any questions about perioperative nursing!