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How to become a Theatre Nurse

How to become a Theatre Nurse

Theatre nursing is a demanding but highly rewarding role, as you will be helping patients when they are at their most vulnerable and making a huge difference in their lives. Find out more about the job.

17 June 2021
Theatre Nurse
Healthcare careers

Theatre nurses work with patients of all ages, supporting them through each phase of the surgical process. It is a demanding but highly rewarding role, as you will be helping patients when they are at their most vulnerable and making a huge difference in their lives.

If you’re interested in building a career in theatre nursing, here is what the job involves and how you can move into the field.

What do Theatre Nursing jobs involve?

Theatre Nurses are part of a large team that includes surgeons, anaesthetists, operating department practitioner (ODPs) and more. They work in operating theatres and recovery areas in hospital wards, clinics or specialist units.

Perioperative care can be divided into four phases:

  • preoperative (pre-assessment)

  • anaesthetics

  • surgical phase

  • recovery phase

Theatre Nurses generally either specialise in a specific area of perioperative care or rotate through the different areas. Rotation is more likely to happen in day surgery.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a career in Theatre Nursing?

The Pros

Theatre Nurses make a tangible difference to patient’s lives with every surgery – they help to quickly alleviate a patient’s symptoms and improve their lives dramatically, making it a uniquely rewarding role.

Theatre Nursing is a role that offers a significant amount of autonomy. You will be trusted to know what you are doing and expected to simply get on with your role.

It is also a very challenging role that involves constantly learning and practising new skills as the field evolves.

The Cons

Theatre Nursing can involve working long hours – you can’t stop working if you are still mid-operation.

You’ll also have limited patient contact, as most are under anaesthetic for much of the process, which can be a challenge for nurses used to constant patient interaction.

What qualifications do I need to become a Theatre Nurse?

You’ll need to be an NMC registered adult, child, mental health or learning disability nurse to work as a Theatre Nurse. After your induction period, you will undertake specialist training and courses to consolidate the specialist skills you'll require to work in perioperative care.

There are many further education courses for Theatre Nursing that you can take as a Registered Nurse. These courses are often part-time, so you can fit study around your current role.

What skills do I need to become a Theatre Nurse?

You will need to be highly organised, flexible and able to prioritise effectively, as Theatre Nurses are responsible for a number of tasks through preoperative, anaesthetic, surgical and recovery phases. You may need to react quickly to emergencies.

You’ll also need to be able to concentrate under pressure and have the stamina to stand for long periods of time during lengthy operations.

As people’s lives are in the hands of the theatre staff, the role requires a confident, focused and cool approach, often under high pressure. You will also obviously need to be able to tolerate a certain amount of blood and gore.

Pay and benefits for Theatre Nurses

A standard working week is generally around 37.5 hours on a shift pattern. Shifts are usually 10 to 13 hours long, but you will only do 3-4 shifts per week, giving you plenty of free time outside of work. Shifts can include nights, early starts, evenings and weekends, although many theatres close on the weekend.

As a Theatre Nurse, you’ll be paid on the Agenda for Change (AFC) pay system, typically starting at Band 5.

Theatre Nurses are constantly in demand and there is plenty of agency work available if you would like to have more control over your working pattern or simply pick up extra shifts.

MSI’s specialist team are experts in placing Theatre Nurses and ODPs in roles within NHS Trusts and private healthcare providers. Our relationships with our clients mean we have access to exclusive agency Theatre Nurse jobs across the UK.

If you're interested in working with the UK’s top nursing agency as an agency Theatre Nurse, register with us today.

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