OR nurse is a friend in a hard time

OR nurse Alissa Robbins says one of the best things about her job is advocating for patients.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes @tfender1@iuhealth.org

She has a big smile and her brown eyes light up when Alissa Robbins talks about her job as an OR nurse.

“There are so many things I like about my job that I can’t honestly tell you just one,” said Robbins, 32. But with a nudge she begins to list those things – there’s the patient contact, knowing that she is an advocate for patients under anesthesia. She sees herself as “a friend in a hard time.” Then there’s the ongoing education.

Robbins obtained her undergraduate degree in biology from Butler University. Two years later she began the accelerated nursing program through IUPUI and started her career as a student nurse at IU Health University Hospital four years ago.

Working on the cardiothoracic team she serves as both a circulating and scrub nurse in the OR. She is fascinated by procedures involving the lungs, esophagus, and structures in the chest cavity. Working alongside Drs. Kenneth A. Kesler, Karen M. Rieger, Thomas J. Birdas, and DuyKhanh P. Ceppa gives Robbins plenty of opportunities to ask questions.

“They are all so knowledgeable and I’m always so interested in the whys – why does the heart do this; why do the lungs do this,” said Robbins. “I always continue learning and getting a better understanding of anatomy, physiology and disease processes.”

She’s also learned a lot from her extended family members in healthcare – aunts, an uncle and cousins – and her team members.

“I would say someone who has had the greatest influence on me is Megan Lee. She was my preceptor when I was in school. I was able to do an elective course in OR and low and behold a year later I was on her team. She has shown me so much from her compassion for patients and knowledge on the job,” said Robbins.

One of Robbins’ earliest memories in her nursing career happened outside the OR. She was preparing to take a young man with intellectual disabilities into surgery. He became frightened, stood up from his wheelchair and ran.

“Something kicked in and I caught up with him and walked several laps outside the OR to help him relax. It showed me that the path I have chosen doesn’t just contain nursing to the OR,” said Robbins.

More about Robbins:

  • She grew up in Danville, the oldest daughter of Paul and Sherri Robbins. She has a younger sister Audra Stevens, who has a two-year-old son.
  • She swam all through high school and taught swimming lessons.
  • She enjoys spending time outdoors and working out at CrossFit.