Instrument/circulating nurse | Australian College of Nursing

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Instrument/circulating nurse

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This unit of study provides students with opportunities to consolidate and expand their clinical knowledge, skills, and attitudes within the specialty of the instrument and circulating nurse in the context of perioperative nursing. It concentrates on patient care in the perioperative environment. In applying theory to practice to provide optimum patient care, students examine such issues as the design of the operating room, the preparation of patients for surgery, advanced aseptic principles including sterilisation, preparation, care and handling of surgical instruments, managing technology specific to the operating theatre environment, the care and handling of specimens and wound closure. The nurse working in the perioperative environment needs a sound foundation of physiology, disease processes, assessment and management options to form the basis for clinical decision-making and problem-solving. Through the acquisition of theoretical knowledge and skill development the student will be able to meet the competency standards Id for instrument and circulating nurses by ACORN.

Instrument/circulating nurse

Unit of study code



Graduate Certificate in Perioperative Nursing

PG Single Unit of Study






Tier 1

Prescribed text:

Australian College of Operating Room Nurses (ACORN) 2016, Standards for Perioperative Nursing in Australia. 14th edn. Adelaide, South Australia.

Recommended text:

Rothrock, JC (ed) 2013, Alexander’s care of the patient in surgery, 15th edn, Mosby Elsevier, Missouri.

Co-ordinated by: Sharron Smyth-Demmon MACN



Intended learning outcomes for this subject/program


After completing this subject, the learner will be able to:-

Assessment Tasks

Type of assessment

Not the completed assessment item. E.g. Assessment 1. Online discussion 


(% of total marks)

When assessed – academic week

(e.g. Week 8)

Theme 1: OR 1 - minor ops/ procedural room

a) Revise and discuss the legal and ethical aspects that affect perioperative nursing care including medication handling pertaining to your role as an instrument/circulating nurse

Assessment 1 Online discussions x 2



Theme 2: OR 2 - General surgery

b) Discuss the fundamentals of infection control and explain how they apply to perioperative nursing practice.

Assessment 2 Quiz (20 questions)



Theme 3: OR 3 - O&G/ Laparoscopic surgery

c) Reflect upon the knowledge and skills required to ensure a safe environment for the patient undergoing a surgical/ invasive procedure.

Assessment 3 Reflective essay (2000 words)



Theme 4: OR 4 - Orthopaedics

d) Analyse the methods of patient assessment in the intra operative phase and apply these methods to practice

Assessment 4 Case analysis (2500 words)



Theme 5: OR 5 -

ENT/ head and neck

e) Plan, implement and evaluate the nursing care of a patient undergoing a surgical/ invasive procedure to meet their physical and psychological needs




Theme 6: OR 6 - Emergency theatre –unidentified patient

f) Examine the evidence base for an aspect of  perioperative nursing within the role of an instrument/ circulating nurse




Units commencing or have commenced in 2017

Tier 1$2,035
Tier 2$2,345
Tier 3$2,725
Tier 4$3,275

Units commencing in 2018

Tier 1$2,100
Tier 2$2,420
Tier 3$2,800
Tier 4$3,375

*Fees are subject to change without notice.