The operating theatre is a place where people work together in a multidisciplinary team. It has a very high patient through-put, and use of advanced technology and surgical routine. Working in an operating theatre has been described as dynamic and challenging. The nurse’s perspective of her/his practice role in the operating theatre department is poorly identified, a fact that makes it necessary for the theatre nurses themselves to define their role as nurses in the multidisciplinary team.
The aim of this study was to begin the work of describing the theatre nurses’ work using a qualitative descriptive design with a phenomenographic approach. A purposeful sample from two hospitals in Sweden was employed to select the 15 theatre nurses, the interviews formed the basis of this study.
As in several other phenomenographic studies three specific questions guided the data collection: What aspect of your practice do you find the easiest? What aspect of your practice do you find the most challenging? What do you think is the most important aspect of your practice? To deepen the interview, what and how questions were used to probe the responses.
The interviews were audio-taped and transcribed verbatim. The interviews were read several times, after which an analysis was undertaken.
The analysis revealed the following three understandings of the phenomenon of “the work of the theatre nurse”: Theatre nurses achieve control of the situation referred to having the appropriate equipment prepared in advance for the operation, the hygienic aspect, for example keeping the operation area, surgical instruments and people involved sterile, and to control patient, instrument and implant logistics by advance planning and being one step ahead.
The possibility of good teamwork is enhanced by being attentive to the spoken and unspoken wishes and needs of the patient as well as all members of the team, especially the surgeon; and Theatre nurses develop their professional practice through practical experience.
All three understandings that emerged in present study are useful for both competence development and quality improvement.
Harrogate, UK: Associations for Perioperative Practice , 2008. Vol. 3, no 4, 149-155 p.