The Difference Between the Roles of Outpatient and Surgical Nurses

Nursing is one of those professions that people know they want to do from a very early age. In many cases people have parents that have worked in similar roles and admire their work and the satisfaction they get from their jobs. If you are thinking of going down the nursing career path, you will need to have a general idea of the area in which you would like to work. Some people choose to become outpatient nurses, whereas others choose to become surgical nurses. In this article we will explain both of the roles and the responsibilities they bear in order to help you gain a greater understanding of what the jobs involve.

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The role of an outpatient nurse

It is the job of outpatient nurses to care for patients seeking treatment in outpatient medical facilities. They will usually deal with people seeking treatments for injuries and those that are undergoing minor surgery. An outpatient nurse is responsible for ensuring that patients are comfortable throughout their time at the hospital. It will be up to them to prepare patients for surgery, observe their symptoms and update their charts on a regular basis.

Main duties of an outpatient nurse

Outpatient nurses carry out many different duties including monitoring blood pressure, checking vitals, drawing blood and maintaining IV lines. When a procedure is taking place outside of the operating theatre they may be required to assist the physician in charge, supplying them with the tools, instruments and materials they require.

In most cases outpatients do not need to stay overnight at the hospital. This means it is up to outpatient nurses to ensure they are well enough to recover at home and understand their recovery process. Before a patient can leave the outpatients facility the nurse will need to check their symptoms and provide them with a written description of the medication they need to take.

The roles of surgical nurses

Surgical nurses fall into three categories which include scrub nurses, circulating nurses and RN first assistants. Each of them plays a different role in caring for the patient during their surgical experience. It is the duty of surgical nurses to co-operate with the rest of the surgical team. They not only play an important role in the success of an operation, but a critical role in their patients’ recovery.

Whereas scrub nurses work directly with the surgeons during an operation (passing them instruments and supplies), circulation nurses do not tend to ‘scrub in.’ It is their role to deliver the supplies needed from outside an operating theatre and transport items of critical importance, like tissue samples. An RN first assistant is another type of surgical nurse. It is there job to help a surgeon when a secondary physician is not present. Their duties involve helping to control bleeding and stitching up incisions made by a surgeon.

Although surgical nurses are often thought as only working inside the operating theatre, this is not actually the case. They still have a lot of correspondence with patients and are required to check on them before, during and after their surgery, providing the doctors with important updates on their conditions.

Choosing your nursing speciality

After completing their nursing degree, many people choose nursing roles which enable them to try out each of the specialities. They work on a rotation basis, which enables them to gain experience in all areas before choosing their speciality. This is the best way to choose a career path as you can gain first-hand experience of each of the roles and see which you find the most enjoyable and rewarding.