Operating room (OR) nurses, also called perioperative nurses and surgical nurses, are in charge of patients scheduled for surgery. OR nurses are specialized registered nurses (RNs) and, depending on the situation, may act as scrub nurses or circulating nurses. Scrub nurses hand surgical instruments to the physician, while circulating nurses oversee nursing care during the procedure and ensure the operating room remains sterile. An operating nurse also acts a liaison between the patient, the patient’s relatives and the medical team.
This past week, November 8 through14, we celebrated Perioperative Nurses Week. Here are eight nurses that might help care for you during a surgical procedure at NCH.
Sarah Aarestad, R.N., BSN Day shift, nearly eight years at NCH University of Saint Francis (Joliet, Ill.)
NCH influencer: Donna Gorischek, R.N. has had the most impact on me at NCH.
What made you decide to go into perioperative nursing? I went into perioperative nursing because my Uncle Ed was the OR manager at Aspen Valley Memorial Hospital in Aspen, Colorado. He was such a positive influence on me growing up. I wanted to be just like him. And here I am … little did I know how much I was going to love it!
Alyson Aguilar, BSN, R.N., CNOR 20 years at NCH Harper College (Associate), Grand Canyon University (BSN)
NCH influencer: There isn’t just one person. It’s every person that I have worked with, because each person has helped me to grow as a nurse. I have met so many wonderful people throughout the organization. I appreciate all the wonderful nurses, techs, doctors, SPD, EVS pharmacist, Lab, EPIC, IT, Bio-Med and the list goes on and on. It is wonderful to work at a place, with caring people that I can count on throughout the entire organization.
What made you decide to go into perioperative nursing? OR is the perfect area for me. I love having one patient at a time, and the ability to advocate for my patients. Each surgical case is unique and I enjoy a challenge. Surgical techniques are always evolving, so I am always learning something new.
Marilyn Coley, R.N. Day shift, three and a half years at NCH Ravenswood Hospital School of Nursing
NCH influencer: Dr. Weil, Sr., podiatrist. He took the time to teach me all about podiatric care. I appreciate him every day!
What made you decide to go into perioperative nursing? I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives during their most vulnerable time.
Linda Gavin, BSN, R.N. 26 years at NCH Harper College (1995) and Grand Canyon University (2018)
NCH influencer: Cindy Barlo, R.N. (retired) from the main operating room.
What made you decide to go into perioperative nursing? From a very young age, the operating room has intrigued me. When I finished nursing school, I took a job on the med surg unit for a few years. I was able to develop a strong nursing foundation. However, the OR still pulled at my heart. When a position became available in the OR, I transferred in-house. I have worked in the OR for more than 20 years now and cannot see myself working anywhere else. I love the ability to be the patient’s advocate while they are under the effects of anesthesia. It is a fun working environment that requires the ability to multitask and yet remain focused on the patient. There is no better place to work in a hospital than the OR!
Megan Janda, R.N., BSN Day shift, three and a half years at NCH Mennonite College of Nursing at Illinois State University
NCH influencer: One person that has had an impact on me is Natalie Videtich, who is currently our ortho service line coordinator. She was originally a circulating nurse on our ortho team and taught me EVERYTHING I know to run our ortho cases as smoothly as possible. I love working with our ortho team and couldn’t have gotten where I am today without her guidance!
What made you decide to go into perioperative nursing? I had the opportunity to shadow in the cardiovascular OR in Springfield during my nursing internship. The patients in the CVOR critically needed their procedure and each person in the OR played a key part in the operation. I was fascinated with the teamwork and trust involved in such delicate cases. This experience solidified my decision to work my way toward becoming a circulator!
Renee Orlandi, R.N., CNOR Day shift, first year at NCH Harper College (2005)
NCH influencer: During orientation Linda Gavin, R.N. was invaluable. She not only instructed and guided me in my new position, but gave me wonderful insights into NCH as an organization.
What made you decide to go into perioperative nursing? In nursing school we did a rotation in OR for one day. I was able to observe an ankle reconstruction surgery and I was hooked. I became a surgical nurse right after graduation in a program designed for new RNs. It was the best career choice I ever made.
Dawn Pearson, R.N., B.S. 10 years at NCH St. Francis Hospital in Evanston (R.N.) University of St. Francis (B.S)
NCH influencer: I was most influenced by Director of Perioperative Services, Judith Knupp. She truly represents leadership by setting the example for others. She taught me, as a leader the key to success is to listen to all your team members, have a positive attitude, use humor, show compassion and caring, be patient and always back your staff. Each member is instrumental in positive patient outcomes. If a staff makes a mistake, address it privately and find a way to learn and be a better team. I make an effort each day to remember these things.
What made you decide to go into perioperative nursing? I chose the operating room because I was fascinated and still am amazed by the human body and all the equipment and instruments that are used to help people. I love meeting patients and learning their stories. Most importantly, I love being part of a process that helps them and puts them on a healthy path. I have opportunities that most will never experience such as holding a patient’s heart in my hands during a coronary artery bypass graft, participating in many different robotic procedures and seeing the horrific effects of cancer inside a patient’s pelvis and abdomen.
Kristina Silver, R.N., BSN, MSN Day shift, 14 years at NCH Harper College, Northern Illinois University, Olivet University
NCH influencer: Linda Page, R.N., taught me from the very beginning in the OR. She is incredibly knowledgeable and was always more than eager to share her work experience. She is one of the hardest workers I know and always has a pleasant attitude.
What made you decide to go into perioperative nursing? I loved the idea of being a surgical nurse from the time I was in nursing school. I had one short day in the OR during my schooling and I actually brought my resume with me on that day to give to the educator. I think the science of surgery and technique is incredible to watch. I love being a part of a patient’s most critical time.