Nursing and MIS

Practice makes perfect

Nurses at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) are usually trained in both minimally invasive surgery (MIS) as well as regular surgery. For Luc Binet, assistant nurse manager in the Department of Surgery at the MGH, he is highly skilled in MIS, but as we all know, it takes practice to reach perfect. 

“Basics with MIS are taught through a long-term theoretical process,” says Mr. Binet. “In an effort to retain the most information, nurses rehearse what they have learned through practice sessions—first through simulation exercises and then once their supervisor judges that they’re ready, they experience the real thing.”

From beginning to end, a nurse educator and an assistant nurse manager guides the newcomer in MIS. Once all techniques and different instruments are learned, the next step is trying to gain speed in their actions, keeping in mind the priorities of the surgery. According to Mr. Binet, gaining that speed is a very important factor in succeeding in most surgeries. 

“Once introduced to the OR, it is stressful for a new nurse because the rest of the team knows what to do,” says Mr. Binet. “Being a job that requires a lot of teamwork, the scrub nurse and the circulating nurse need to work together, allowing surgeons to get what they need as quickly as possible. There are so many things to know and you don’t want to miss one detail because errors can result in complications. That’s why it’s very important to transform all those procedures, techniques and skills into instinct reaction.”

What would usually have taken a week or so to return to a certain level of activity with regular surgery, today takes a day with minimally invasive surgeries. “For patients, it’s amazing how well they do when the surgery is a success. Once, I saw a man, about 80 years old, who we operated on the day before, putting his shoes on all by himself. With normal surgery, he never could have done that. All of that practice pays off in spades for our patients.”