MANY patients who are undergoing surgery in hospitals across Queensland are unaware of the dedicated team of nurses whose sole mission it is to keep them safe during operations.
This week marks the opportunity to celebrate the tireless work of over 170 perioperative nurses across the Sunshine Coast and Gympie Regions.
"We are the eyes and ears of the patient while they're anaesthetised,” says Ruth Melville, who has been a perioperative nurse for over 30 years and is the president of the International Federation of Perioperative Nurses.
"We're passionate about what we do, patient care and the greater good.”
Working with patients on the Sunshine Coast, Ruth first fell in love with perioperative nursing while she was a student.
"I started my training out of high school and was put on theatre rotation at Nambour General Hospital,” she says.
"I was nervous working there, but I found my niche and absolutely loved it.”
Celebrations were kept simple at Gympie Hospital yesterday, with nursing staff enjoying some cake in their scrubs before rushing off to work again.
Clinical nurse Sue Brennan, who has been working with the perioperative team in Gympie for 24 years, says her desire to help people was a lifelong mission.
"I became a nurse to care for people,” she says.
"I knew from the age of 14 that was what I wanted to be.”
While medical staff routinely see and assist a large number of patients throughout their day, Mrs Brennan enjoys the ability to get to know them on a more substantial level.
"We're the patient's advocate, often speaking for the patient when they can't,” she says.
"We really get to know our patients by seeing in the preadmission clinic as well as the theatre on the day of surgery.”
Just under 10,000 elective surgeries were performed in Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service facilities during 2015-6.
The assistance of perioperative nurses is critical to the comfort and well-being of the patient during surgery.
The role requires nurses to work as a team alongside medical staff including surgeons and anaesthesiologists.
Their work extends beyond the theatre as well, with perioperative nurses also providing vital care and attention as they awaken.
It's all in a day's work for the team at Gympie Hospital, with many upfront about the devotion they have for their work.
"I love being a perioperative nurse in Gympie,” Mrs Brennan says.
"We help the patient feel more comfortable and less stress on surgery day when they see a familiar face.”