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Nursing student Rhia Davies returned to operating theatres where she used to work as a healthcare support worker
Before I started my nurse training, I worked as an NHS healthcare support worker in operating theatres.
After many years deliberating about my career options, I plucked up the courage to apply for nurse training. I knew I would not realise all my ambitions if I remained as a healthcare support worker (HCSW). Even so, my time in theatres gave me an insight into a specialist area and was a stepping stone to the future.
My role as an HCSW in theatres was different to that of a staff nurse or a student and I was frustrated by the limitations in my knowledge. I had conflicting emotions when I found that I had been allocated to the operating theatres for my placement in the fifth semester. I was certainly apprehensive about returning to my old workplace because I had been adamant that I would not; I wanted to work elsewhere to gain new experiences.
But returning to operating theatres ultimately proved beneficial because I was able to revisit the environment from a completely different perspective. This time, medical and nursing colleagues took the time to offer fuller explanations and were willing to teach me what they know.
My nerves nearly got the better of me on the first occasion that I scrubbed for a procedure. I kept my distance from the instrument tray because HCSWs are told never to touch sterile equipment. But with encouragement, I learned that when scrubbed, I can touch sterile items. Gradually it became easier and my confidence increased immensely, although at times I did revert to HCSW mode and sometimes I was treated as one.
Overall, returning to theatre has been a good experience because I have been able to appreciate other roles in the department. This would not have been possible had I remained as a HCSW.
My feelings about working in theatres have changed since having a placement there and maybe, when I have qualified, I might work there again.