The Expanded Role of a Surgical Nurse in 2022

There is a huge demand for nurses in the country. In fact, a 200k to 450k nursing shortage is expected by 2025. The reasons behind these are the growing aging population needing care and increased patient demand related to Covid-19 and other diseases.

Aside from these, there is a need for more specialized nursing roles in the industry. For instance, doctors will need assistants who are more knowledgeable in certain procedures and can cover tasks like patient monitoring. As a result, universities and colleges are working hard to keep up with the demand by offering more advanced nursing programs that allow students to pursue a profession that specializes in a specific field, such as genetics and informatics.

Incidentally, one of these fields happens to be surgery—that said, this article will discuss the need for surgical nurses and their expertise in 2022. 

Take on roles at ambulatory surgery centers

An ambulatory surgery center (ASC) provides same-day surgical care to patients. They are modern healthcare facilities that deliver diagnoses, surgeries, and preventive procedures in one day. As of this year, ambulatory surgery centers are expected to take on more than half of the country’s surgical procedures. Further, they are predicted to see a 15% increase in outpatient procedures by 2028.

In this regard, surgical nurses will be needed to provide assistance to ASCs. Surgical nurses are responsible for preparing patients pre-surgery, assisting surgeons during the process, and caring for patients post-surgery. Thus, their expertise will be greatly needed as ASCs continue to increase the number of people they serve. 

Assisting in a growing number of surgeries

The number of surgical procedures decreased right after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020. However, as vaccination rates go up and mandates are lifted, the numbers are increasing once more. A surgical operations study found that surgeries decreased by 48% after Covid-19 was declared but the numbers are going back to normal—and even greater—starting in 2021.

This surge is caused by patients seeking to get procedures done after they were held back by the pandemic. Surgical nurses are needed to keep up with this demand and continue to provide assistance to surgeons and care for patients as they recover. 

I often operate in a surgery centre where I do not have a surgical assistant, and the Galaxy II®’s simple, single-handed operation means that it is easier to adjust and readjust the retractor during a surgery. Dr Molden, The Female Pelvic Health Center in Pennsylvania USA

Supervising robots in surgery

Advancements in technology have led to robots being used in operating rooms. Robots help doctors perform more complex surgeries with ultimate precision and control, increasing their chances of success. Commonly, robots are used in minimally invasive procedures or those that require tiny incisions.

Despite these advancements, robots in surgery still need supervision. There can be errors that only humans can spot, making surgical nurses crucial in these situations. Surgeons will be too busy performing medical procedures along with the robot, so the responsibility of supervision falls on surgical nurses. Therefore, they are expected not only to assist during surgeries but also to keep an eye out for robots and any possible events that will need human intervention. 

Providing care for postoperative complications

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the way people recover after surgeries. A postoperative complication study revealed that patients who had surgery after 0-8 weeks of being infected with Covid-19 have an increased risk of developing complications such as pneumonia. Surgical nurses are responsible for post-surgery recovery so they must anticipate these complications, especially since the virus has yet to be completely eradicated. They will need to deliver specific care to patients dealing with complications in addition to recovering from surgery.

Surgical nurses are among the nurses that are in demand in the coming years. Their role is crucial in assisting surgeries, giving post-recovery care, and supervising new technology in operating rooms.


Exclusively written for JUNE MEDICAL

By: Rhonda Jaliyah