Perioperative nursing

Perioperative nurses care for patients before, during and after surgery or procedures.

Meet one of our perioperative nurses

Rhianna Mitchell, Perioperative Associate Nurse Unit Manager in the operating suite

Meet Rhianna Mitchell, a Perioperative Associate Nurse Unit Manager (ANUM) who has been with Austin Health for eight years. 

What sorts of patients do you work with?

I’m the ANUM for vascular and renal transplant surgery, so I see a lot of the renal access patients and the patients who are either pre to post kidney transplant, and people who have peripheral vascular disease, ie people who have diabetic or non-healing wounds, or need large or small vessels repaired or bypassed. I’m also on the cardiac and liver on-call teams where I help with cardiac emergencies and liver transplants.

What does an average day look like for you?

You never know what each day will bring, every day is different! It depends where I’m allocated or if I’m on call. It could be in theatre with elective cases, or I could be sent to the Royal Children’s Hospital to help with a liver transplant – our teams attend other hospitals as ours is the only team in Victoria and Tasmania that does liver transplants. I work as a Scrub Nurse, scrubbing and handling instruments and giving them to the surgeon, or as a Scout Nurse – acting as a runner for the Scrub Nurse. I do the count process – counting all instruments and consumables at the beginning and end of surgeries to make sure there is nothing left in the patient. We act as a patient advocate to make sure they are safe – they’re in a safe position, with no pressure areas, they won’t fall off the bed, and everything is sterile. I work with acutely unwell patients and cases which are very complex.

What are some of the things you enjoy most in your role?

We are part of the patient’s life when they are most vulnerable, and it’s a privilege to be part of their journey. Not many people get to do this. I love the teamwork, especially because we have such a complex team dynamic, we’re made up of small teams, and we are a backbone for the unit. If it wasn’t for the nurses involved the surgeons couldn’t do their jobs and it keeps the service running. Everyone is so supportive and we’re all team players.

What do you enjoy about working at Austin Health?

I love the variety of specialities that Austin Health has to offer, and the teamwork is unlike anywhere I’ve worked before, even visiting surgeons talk about how friendly everyone is here. I really enjoy the relationship and the rapport we have with each other - you know that everyone has your back, there is a collective understanding. Everyone cares, everyone is invested in their role.

What’s one moment in your career you are most proud of?

It would be one of the first times that I had a patient on the table with a ruptured aorta and we didn’t have a consultant surgeon present yet, just the cardiac registrar and I, and the patient was crashing. When we went to cannulate it wouldn’t fit, and I instinctively cut an extension that would fit, and was able to complete the bypass circuit to run on. It was early on in my cardiac experience at that time and I just immediately understood what was needed and was able to be the solution in a critical moment. It brought all of my training into action, and helped save the patient’s life.

Current opportunities

There are myriad opportunities for nurses within Perioperative Services. We are currently seeking experienced perioperative nurses for the following specialties:

  • Scrub/Scout: Cardiac, Orthopaedics, Neurosurgery, Thoracics, General surgery, Urology, Vascular, ENT and Plastics.
  • Perianaesthesia: Recovery and Anaesthesia nursing with the opportunity to rotate between these two areas.
  • Orthopaedic Loans Coordinator
  • Sterile Instrument and Set up Nurses
  • Perioperative Clinical Support Nurses

Our education programs

We also offer education programs in perioperative nursing, including:

Master of Nursing Practice (Perioperative Practices)

A program for nurses with at least two years’ experience in a perianaesthesia/intraoperative role

Transition to Specialty Practice (Perioperative Services) program

A program for nurses with a minimum of 12 months acute clinical experience. 

About Perioperative Services

Perioperative Services is part of the Surgery, Anaesthesia & Procedural Medicine (SAPM) Clinical Operations Division at Austin Health.

Perioperative Services provide a broad range of elective and acute surgical procedures. Approximately 26,000 surgical and endoscopic procedures are undertaken each year.

Our two operating suites are divided across two locations and include:

  • 19 operating theatres
  • two procedure rooms
  • four endoscopy rooms.

The Operating Suite at Austin Hospital provides a 24-hour emergency theatre service, and caters for complex, acute elective and emergency cases. Cardiac Surgery, Liver and Kidney Transplant, Thoracic, Major Orthopaedic and Neurosurgery are a few of the specialties undertaken at Austin Hospital. The Suite also has a Recovery Unit with high dependency patient facilities.

The Surgery Centre Operating Suite at Heidelberg Repatriation Centre provides an elective service from  Monday to Saturday.

Join our team

If you are a perioperative nurse looking for a new opportunity we would love to have you join our team! Please see our current vacancies or reach out to to initiate a confidential discussion.