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Digital Issues

Archive >  February, 2014 XV, No. 2

Behind Closed Doors: Return of "You Might Be an OR Nurse If ..."

It's funny how nursing's routines infiltrate our lives.

Paula Watkins, RN, CNOR

lay out clothing

It's been nearly 9 years since I wrote "You Might Be an Nurse If...," a list of 34 universal truths about this thing of ours called surgical nursing ( A few funny-then, funny-now samples from one of my favorite columns:

  • You think the best photo of yourself is the one on your ID badge.
  • Your cabinet at home has more of those blue containers left over from sterile packs than it has dishes. (One has even replaced your butter container.)
  • When you're bathing or showering, you start from the center and wash out, like you do on a prep.
  • You do a better shave prep on the patient than you do on your own areas that need a shave.
  • Multiple pairs of scrubs at home are slowly replacing your other clothes and you're actually taking them on trips with you as loungewear.
  • You can look at a tissue specimen and start to plan what you're going to cook for supper that night.

'So true!'
"So true!" many of my readers remarked back then. Since that time, I've had more traveling OR nurse assignments then I can remember. Here are a few more quirky habits that seem natural to us but might seem strange to those on the outside.

  • Scrubbing in at the rest stop. During a recent highway pit stop, I washed my hands at one of those sinks where the faucet was operated by a motion detector that turns the water on. It's a great idea for public restrooms. I wondered if it had ever been put to use in surgical scrub sinks: that might make things easier. As I finished rinsing, the water was still running and I noticed that my right leg jumped up, as if by reflex, searching for the place where I'd normally turn the water off. Lord knows what OR I thought I was going into.
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