Roles of scrub nurse that every scrub nurse should know

roles of scrub nurse

Scrub nurses or surgery nurses play a wide variety of roles in the operating room. Their task begins right before the operation, extends to when the surgeon arrives after scrubbing, during the operation, before the incision phase, and even after the operation. Being a scrub nurse calls for a lot of empathy, endurance, integrity, emotional sympathy, and more! They should be aware of surgical procedures, operating room procedures, and specific procedures and assist in all sorts of emergency operations. If you are already a scrub nurse or planning to become one, there are a lot of advantages that you can choose from.

The blog at length discusses the roles of scrub nurses in various clinical settings. 

Why is the role of scrub nurse too competitive? The scrub nurse stats.

Here are some fast facts about the scrub nurses.

  • The average salary of scrub nurses in the UK is £40,981
  • Most of the scrub nurse job ads are typically for Healthcare and Nursing Jobs
  • The number of scrub nurse ads is comparatively 8.4% higher than the previous year, with 490 current vacancies.
  • Year after year, the scrub nurse jobs have hiked up 4.1%.
  • It is after the World War I that the long medical dresses of scrub nurse became more relaxed, their color changed to green from white.

Look out for more data about scrub nurses here.

role of scrub nurse graph

What are the roles of scrub nurses?

Scrub nurse care can be divided into four phases:

  1. Before the surgery 
  2. When surgeon arrives after scrubbing
  3. During the surgery
  4. Prior to incision
  5. Post-surgery

Before the surgery

The roles of the scrub nurses begin even before the surgery commences. They make sure that the operating room is tidy and all setup. Here are their major responsibilities in this phase.

  • Checks the equipment to be used for the surgery
  • Makes certain that all instruments and equipment required for the surgery are set
  • Applies sterile method of cleaning for scrubbing, gloving, and gowning
  • Handles sterile equipment using sterile technique
  • Does needle count, instruments and initial sponges

When surgeon arrives after scrubbing

This phase is equally important to a scrub nurse. Their roles include:

sterile garments, face mask, hand signals, special soaps, excellent communication skills, patient safety

  • Wears sterile garments and face mask
  • Help surgeon and the assistant surgeon with gown and gloves as soon as they enter the operation suite
  • Gather the drapes as per the user starting from the towel, towel clips, draw sheets, lap sheet, everything is diligently done. 
  • Assist draping the patient as per the routine
  • Carefully place the blade on the knife handle using the needle holder, assembling the suction tube and the suction tip
  • Station the mayo stand and the back table near the patient post draping is over
  • Fix the cautery cord and suction tube with towel clips
  • Assemble sutures and needles as per usage

During the surgery

Selecting and passing the right set of instruments to the surgeon is one of the crucial roles of a scrub nurse in this phase! Things can never go wrong here. Just like how the surgeon is vigilant during the process, so should the scrub nurse be, all aimed at the safety of the patient. The scrub nurse should be an ace here to know which instruments go next. Some of their roles include:

  • Maintain hygiene and sterility throughout the surgery procedure
  • Be aware of the patient’s safety
  • Arrange mayo and the back tables with necessary instruments
  • Adhere to the operating room procedures 
  • Stand by the policy requirements regarding surgical needles, instruments, count, and sponge

Prior to the incision

Some of the technical duties that a scrub nurse do here are:

  • Hand over 2 sponges prior to incision
  • Pass the first knife to the surgeon (this is for the skin) with its blade pointing downward
  • Pass hemostat and retractor to the assistant surgeon
  • Be vigilant in the field foreseeing the surgeon’s needs
  • Do the passing of instrument in a positive way
  • Beware for the hand signals to ask for instruments 
  • Maintain cleanliness of the instruments by wiping them with moist sponge
  • Do not forget to remove the charred tissue from the cautery tip
  • Inform the circulating nurse if you need additional instruments
  • Lay 2 sponges on the field
  • Remove the clutter from the sterile field
  • Maintain sterile environment and watch for any breaks


  • Ensure the count of instruments and sponges with circulating nurse
  • Notifies the surgeon about the count
  • Puts away all equipment and instrument
  • Helps in dressing
  • Removes drapes
  • De-gowns and gets patient ready for recovery room
  • Finish the documentation and hands over patient to the recovery room

The scrub nurses play an important role to deliver quality patient care by carefully understanding their nursing skills. The patient interaction scrub nurses often have to emotionally and spiritually gel with the patients and their families, besides delivering good surgical care. We understand you too well at JP Medicals Recruitment, which is why we always have an updated list of flexible jobs featured for you with attractive pay and peace of mind. If you are a registered nurse, then contact us for more information.

Leave a Comment