How to become a Theatre Nurse

How to become a Theatre Nurse

Sep 3, 2021.

Are you looking to specialise in Theatre Nursing?

A specialised, highly sought after and highly skilled role in the Nursing profession, Theatre Nurses work with patients of all ages and provide expert care and support during each phase of a patient’s perioperative care.  

To find out more about how to become a Theatre Nurse, take a look at our blog.

Entry requirements

To become a Theatre Nurse, you will need to be registered as an adult, child, mental health or learning disability Nurse and be registered with the NMC. Specialist training is required after an initial period of induction, including courses to consolidate the skills required to work in theatre.

Training courses

A typical training programme takes two years to complete; after which, certain surgical procedures can be taken, under the supervision of a surgeon. These courses are at Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) and Masters levels and can often be taken on a part-time basis, which means they can fit around your current Nursing job.

For more information on the courses available, please visit the Association for Perioperative Practice website.

Essential Skills

If you want to become a Theatre Nurse, it is important to have certain skills:

  • Highly organised
  • Attention to detail
  • Compassionate
  • Able to prioritise effectively
  • Interpersonal skills
  • The ability to concentrate for long periods of time
  • The ability to act quickly and calmly in an emergency
  • Be able to stand for extended periods of time


As a Theatre Nurse, you’ll be part of each stage of perioperative care, from the admission of the patient to their recovery and discharge. Perioperative care can be divided into four phases and with the following responsibilities:

  • Pre-operative (pre-assessment) phase: making sure your patient is aware of why they need surgery, any risks involved, answering questions and ensuring they’re fit for surgery
  • Anaesthetic phase: Preparing any equipment needed for the anaesthetising of the patient, including specialist equipment, devices, and drugs. Supporting the Anaesthetist in delivering the anaesthetic and assessing the patient before they go into surgery
  • Surgical phase: Rotating between the different nursing roles within the operating theatre:
  • Scrub Nurses work within the sterile part of the operating theatre: helping clean the patient’s skin and handing all instruments, including sharps and swabs, to the surgeon when they are needed. A Scrub Nurse is also in charge of all instruments, making sure that they are all present and accounted for before the surgeon can close the patient up
    • Circulating Nurses are responsible for the smooth running of the surgery; making sure that the scrub team has everything they need and ensuring that the patient’s needs are the priority throughout the surgery. Another essential duty is communicating any calls or messages to the Scrub Nurse so that they can inform the surgeon
  • Recovery phase: Adopting the role of Recovery Nurse to monitor the patient’s health before and as they wake up, supporting them through the recovery process, offering care and assessing them before and they are discharged back to the ward

Further Career Development and Band Levels

Working as a Theatre Nurse lays a great foundation for any Nursing career. Theatre Nurses typically start at Band 5, and once your Theatre Nurse training is complete, and with a certain amount of experience, further training can be taken if you want to extend your scope of practice and work as a Surgical Care Practitioner / increase your Band Level. There is also the option of reaching for Consultant Nurse Level (achieved with time and experience within a Theatre Nursing role) and these Nurses are amongst the highest paid in the Nursing profession.

As a Theatre Nurse, you can also explore further career development through management, education and research options.

We hope our blog helped answer any questions you had on becoming a Theatre Nurse and if you’re planning on undertaking the required study whilst working as a Nurse, please get in touch. Our specialist Recruitment Consultants can help you find roles and shifts that fit around your study needs, with 1-2-1 support and guidance at every step of the way.