- A circulating nurse is thus called because their role involves various duties carried out while circulating outside of the sterile surgical environment. These RNs perform such tasks as preparing patients for surgery by administering any medications necessary, placing IV drips, shaving if required and taking the patient's medical history. Circulating nurses also perform patient aftercare duties, such as monitoring blood pressure, pain levels and the general condition of the post-operative patient. The circulating nurse also supplies post-operative care instructions to family and patients before discharge. Circulating nurses may also be called upon to offer assistance to the surgical team by bringing in new medical supplies, monitoring the patient and generally maintaining a hygienic and comfortable environment.
- RNs who work within the sterile surgical field have to be 'scrubbed in'---which means washing hands and arms with antibacterial soap and donning sterile surgical gowns. They are called scrub nurses for this reason. Scrub nurses prepare and select surgical equipment for the surgeon and pass these instruments to the surgeon as required during surgery.
- To become a RN firstassistant, RNs have to have extensive experience as circulating or scrub nurses, and also complete post-graduate coursework in advanced surgical care and surgical procedures. The first assistant is required to be the 'right hand' of the principal surgeon, operating surgical equipment, handling and cutting tissue, suturing and performing hemostasis procedures on patients. A first assistant may also be called upon to provide post-operative care and advice to patients.