Photo of an operation in progressNursing student Karina Gomes ’21 has completed a number of clinicals during her time at Regis College, from pediatrics to maternity to mental health. But she never considered a clinical – or even a career – in perioperative nursing.

Not until a medical/surgery clinical at Massachusetts General Hospital that is. “My clinical instructor gave us the opportunity to go observe the OR for the day and I was initially hesitant to go,” Gomes explained. “I never considered the OR as a place I would work.”

While there Gomes observed a whipple procedure, a complex operation to treat pancreatic cancer that requires removal of part of the pancreas.

“I was fascinated,” Gomes said. “Not just by the procedure but also everyone’s role and how they moved like a team. It was just one day but I knew this was something I wanted to do as a career.”

This semester Gomes and five of her senior classmates will get a more immersive experience in the operating room thanks to new preceptorship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The cohort will learn about the entire perioperative process from OR transport to scrubbing preparation to patient positioning on the operating table, allowing the students to serve as circulating nurses managing the care in the operating room.

“I think it is hard to understand the environment until you are in it,” said Kendra Currier, the nurse who will oversee the preceptorship. “Doing this helps you tremendously. It helps you to understand what it is like, how to communicate, and how important it is to be mindful and aware of the patient.”

What makes this partnership unique, added Currier, is that rarely do nursing students or even recent nursing school graduates get the level of perioperative experience these Regis students will. Rather than jumping right into the operating room, nurses are encouraged to first get experience elsewhere, such as a medicine/surgery floor.

“Even if perioperative care is what a nurse knows they want to do, they are told they need to go and get regular floor experience,” said Currier. “And I don’t think that is necessarily true.”

Currier, a nurse for 13 years, added that partnerships such as this one create a direct pipeline to future potential employees for the hospital.

For Gabriella Floramo ’21, the draw to apply for the preceptorship was the structure and sterile environment of the operating room.

“My instructors at Regis did such a good job teaching sterile fields in lab and I fell in love with it,” said Floramo. “You have to do everything in a sterile field a certain way and being able to follow the steps and keep everything clean is critically important.”

Floramo added she has tremendous respect for surgeons and perioperative teams in part because of her sister, who has colitis and had a major surgery when she was younger that tremendously benefited her quality of life.

“What they were able to do for my sister and the progress she has made is remarkable,” said Floramo.