Mastering Perioperative Nursing Interview Questions: A Guide To Surgical Conscience and Work-Integrate Study

Navigating the nursing interview process can be daunting, whether you’re a fresh graduate, transitioning to a new specialty, or an experienced nurse seeking a change. Preparation is key. As a nursing student going through my new graduate interviews, I encountered these questions during the interview process. In the past few years, I have assisted many students in addressing these same questions in their interviews. This blog post will explore two commonly asked interview questions for perioperative nursing positions. I will provide tailored responses for different stages of a nursing career. I hope this post proves helpful to you. Feel free to comment if you liked it or have any further questions. Enjoy!


Question 1

What does the term ‘surgical conscience’ mean to you? How do you apply this in your practice?

Perspective of Thinking: This question assesses your understanding of patient safety and commitment to maintaining the highest standards in surgical settings.

What the Recruitment Team is Looking For: A deep understanding of the importance of maintaining a sterile environment and the ability to uphold this standard consistently.

Approach: Use real-life examples to demonstrate your understanding and commitment to surgical conscience.

Top Candidate Response Example Ideas:

  • Nursing Student (New Graduate Interview):
    • Situation: Observing surgeries during clinical rotation.
    • Task: Understanding the principles of maintaining a sterile environment.
    • Action: Asking questions and taking notes.
    • Result: Commitment to upholding surgical conscience from the start of the career.
  • Transitioning Nurse (To Perioperative Program):
    • Situation: Collaborating with the perioperative team in a previous role.
    • Task: Understanding surgical procedures for post-operative care.
    • Action: Learning about surgical procedures and sterile techniques.
    • Result: Bringing an understanding of post-operative care to the perioperative program.
  • Experienced Nurse (New Role in Different Perioperative Facility):
    • Situation: A decade of experience as a perioperative nurse.
    • Task: Ensuring patient safety during surgeries.
    • Action: Voicing concerns about potential breaches in sterility.
    • Result: A decade-long commitment to surgical conscience.

Top Candidate Response Planning and Examples

Nursing Student (New Graduate Interview):

Situation: “During my final year of nursing school, I had the opportunity to observe several surgeries as part of my clinical rotation.”

Task: “While I was primarily there to learn and observe, I was also tasked with understanding the principles of maintaining a sterile environment.”

Action: “I noticed how meticulous the surgical team was about sterile technique. I asked questions and took notes to ensure I understood the importance of surgical conscience.”

Result: “To me, surgical conscience means being vigilant and uncompromising about patient safety. Even though I’m just starting my career, I’m committed to upholding these standards in every surgical setting I find myself in.”

Nurse (Transitioning to Perioperative Program):

Situation: “In my previous role as a medical-surgical nurse, I often collaborated with the perioperative team for post-operative patient care.”

Task: “It was crucial for me to understand the surgeries my patients underwent to provide the best post-operative care.”

Action: “I took the initiative to learn more about surgical procedures, sterile techniques, and the concept of surgical conscience from my colleagues in the operating room.”

Result: “Surgical conscience, to me, means a deep commitment to patient safety and the highest standards of care. As I transition to the perioperative program, I bring with me this understanding and the experience of ensuring patient safety post-operatively.”

Experienced Nurse (New Role in Different Perioperative Facility):

Situation: “In my ten years as a perioperative nurse at XYZ Hospital, I’ve been part of countless surgeries, ranging from routine to highly complex.”

Task: “Maintaining a sterile environment and ensuring patient safety was always the top priority.”

Action: “There were instances where I had to voice concerns about potential breaches in sterility, even if it meant challenging a senior surgeon’s actions.”

Result: “To me, surgical conscience is an unwavering commitment to the well-being of the patient. It’s about speaking up when necessary and always striving for the highest standards of care. As I transition to this new facility, I bring a decade of experience and a steadfast commitment to surgical conscience.”

Top Candidate Responses

  • Nursing Student (New Graduate Interview): “To me, ‘surgical conscience’ is the unwavering commitment to maintaining a sterile environment during surgical procedures. As a nursing student, I’ve observed surgeries and recognised the pivotal role of the scrub nurse in upholding this principle. It’s not just about the technicalities but also the moral responsibility to ensure patient safety. Every time I was in the operating theatre, I made it a point to ask questions, take notes, and internalise the importance of surgical conscience. As I transition into my professional role, I believe this foundational understanding will guide me in always prioritising patient safety.”
  • Transitioning Nurse (To Perioperative Program): “Having worked in a different nursing area, I’ve always been aware of the broader principles of patient safety. ‘Surgical conscience’ signifies the heightened responsibility in a surgical setting. It’s about ensuring a sterile field and the respect and professional integrity every team member brings to the OR. In my previous role, I collaborated closely with the perioperative team and learned about the intricacies of surgical procedures. As I transition to the perioperative program, I bring this foundational understanding and a commitment to always uphold the highest standards of surgical conscience.”
  • Experienced Nurse (New Role in Different Perioperative Facility): “With over a decade in the perioperative field, ‘surgical conscience’ is second nature. It’s the backbone of every successful surgery and the silent promise we make to every patient who enters the operating theatre. It means ensuring a sterile environment, but it also extends to mentoring younger staff, voicing concerns about potential breaches in sterility, and continuously updating one’s knowledge. In my years of experience, I’ve seen the direct impact of maintaining a strong surgical conscience on patient outcomes. As I transition to a new facility, I bring this unwavering commitment, ensuring patient safety is always the top priority.”


Question 2

What do you see as your biggest challenge in undertaking work-integrated study? How will you manage these challenges?

Perspective of Thinking: This question aims to gauge your self-awareness, foresight, and problem-solving skills.

What the Recruitment Team is Looking For: Understanding potential challenges and a proactive approach to managing them.

Approach: Highlight your time management skills, resilience, and adaptability.

Top Candidate Response Examples:

  • Nursing Student (New Graduate Interview):
    • Situation: Juggling academic commitments with clinical placements.
    • Task: Balancing responsibilities during nursing studies.
    • Action: Developing a strict study schedule and collaborating with peers.
    • Result: Effective time management strategies for integrating into the workforce.
  • Transitioning Nurse (To Perioperative Program):
    • Situation: Undertaking additional training for a new specialty.
    • Task: Integrating new learning with current work.
    • Action: Setting aside dedicated study hours and seeking mentorship.
    • Result: A smooth transition to the perioperative program with continuous learning.
  • Experienced Nurse (New Role in Different Perioperative Facility):
    • Situation: Transitioning to a leadership role in a previous facility.
    • Task: Balancing OR responsibilities with management courses.
    • Action: Scheduling study hours around operating theatre commitments.
    • Result: Effective management of time and responsibilities in a new facility.

Top Candidate Response Planning and Examples

Nursing Student (New Graduate Interview):

Situation: “During my nursing studies, I juggled academic commitments with part-time work and clinical placements.”

Task: “Balancing these responsibilities was challenging, especially during exam periods or when assignments were due.”

Action: “I developed a strict study schedule, used productivity apps, and often collaborated with peers to ensure I stayed on track.”

Result: “Time management will be crucial as I integrate into the workforce. I plan to use the strategies I’ve developed during my studies to ensure I can balance continuous learning with my responsibilities as a new graduate nurse.”

Nurse (Transitioning to Perioperative Program):

Situation: “Transitioning from one nursing specialty to another has required me to undertake additional training and certifications.”

Task: “While I’m excited about the perioperative program, I anticipate the challenge of integrating new learning with my current work.”

Action: “In the past, I’ve set aside dedicated study hours each week and sought mentorship from experienced colleagues in the new area.”

Result: “I plan to use a similar approach for this transition, ensuring that I can effectively integrate new knowledge into my practice while maintaining the highest standards of patient care.”

Experienced Nurse (New Role in Different Perioperative Facility):

Situation: “When I transitioned to a leadership role in my previous perioperative facility, I had to undertake management courses while still overseeing surgeries.”

Task: “The challenge was to ensure that neither my studies nor my responsibilities in the OR were compromised.”

Action: “I scheduled my study hours around my operating theatre commitments, often studying late at night or on weekends. I also sought feedback regularly to ensure I met both roles’ expectations.”

Result: “As I transition to this new facility, I anticipate similar challenges. However, with my prior experience, I’m confident I can manage my time effectively and ensure continuity in practice and continuous learning.”

Top Candidate Responses

  • Nursing Student (New Graduate Interview): “As a nursing student, the challenge of integrating work with study is a fresh experience. The biggest hurdle I foresee is managing the dual responsibilities of a budding professional role and academic commitments. However, I’ve always believed in proactive planning. I developed a strict study schedule during my studies, collaborated with peers, and sought guidance when needed. Digital tools and calendars have been my allies in ensuring I stay on track. As I step into the workforce, I’m determined to apply these strategies, ensuring I excel in my role and continuous learning journey.”
  • Transitioning Nurse (To Perioperative Program): “Transitioning to a new specialty like the perioperative program means immersing oneself in a new learning curve while managing current work responsibilities. Time management will undoubtedly be a challenge. However, I’ve always approached such challenges with a structured plan. Setting aside dedicated study hours, seeking mentorship, and constantly updating my knowledge have been my go-to strategies. I understand that the recruitment team values continuity in practice and studies. I’m committed to ensuring my smooth transition, with neither my work nor my studies taking a backseat.”
  • Experienced Nurse (New Role in Different Perioperative Facility): “With years of experience, the challenge in undertaking work-integrated study shifts from managing time to ensuring that the learning is integrated seamlessly into practice. While I have a wealth of experience, every new role brings unique demands. Balancing operating theatre responsibilities with the need to stay updated in a new facility will be my primary challenge. However, I’ve always been an advocate for continuous learning. My approach will be scheduling study hours around operating theatre commitments, seeking feedback, and being open to new methodologies. I’m confident that with my dedication and proactive planning, I’ll ensure excellence in my new role and continuous professional development.”


Preparing for an interview involves more than just rehearsing answers. It involves understanding the essence of each question and customising your responses to highlight your skills, experience, and dedication to the nursing profession. Whether you are a beginner or have years of experience, this post aims to provide you with the knowledge and confidence to succeed in your next perioperative nursing interview, particularly when it comes to questions about surgical consciousness and work-integrated study.


πŸ˜ƒ Thank you for reading.

Please feel free to leave a comment and share this post with a friend and/or on social media.

Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone: A Path to Personal Growth

Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone: A Path to Personal Growth

This blog is the “monthly thought”. A section in the Monthly Dose Newsletter.

You can subscribe to the newsletter here.

As nurses, it’s easy to fall into a routine and stick to what we know. However, growth occurs when we step outside our comfort zone. When we challenge ourselves and take risks, we open ourselves up to new perspectives and experiences that can help us become better healthcare providers.

Stepping outside our comfort zone can be daunting, but the rewards are often well worth the effort. Not only does it broaden our horizons, but it also helps us build resilience and confidence. We learn to embrace change and adapt to new situations, which is an essential personal and professional skill.

So, the next time you feel stagnant or uninspired, consider taking a leap of faith and trying something new. Whether learning a new skill, attending a conference or workshop, or even just introducing yourself to a new colleague, the possibilities are endless when we step outside our comfort zone.

Remember, growth occurs when we challenge ourselves. By taking risks and embracing new opportunities, we can continue improving our practice and providing better patient care.

Redefining Nursing Education: Embracing a Holistic Approach for a Successful Career

The Myth: Nursing School Teaches You Everything

πŸ€” No, it won’t.

Many believe that university or TAFE-based nursing programs provide all the necessary knowledge and skills for a successful nursing career. This commonly held belief stems from the assumption that formal education is the key to success in any profession. However, this belief has led to underprepared nurses entering the workforce.

Shortcomings in Traditional Nursing Education:

  1. Limited clinical practice in controlled environments
  2. Lack of exposure to different nursing specialties
  3. Insufficient focus on soft skills like communication and empathy

The Flawed Belief in the Traditional Nursing Education Model

Traditional nursing education often falls short because it doesn’t prepare students for the realities of the profession. Real-world experience and adaptability are crucial, yet many programs lack these elements.

Embracing a Holistic Approach: The New Perspective

To shift their mindset from “old” to “new,” nursing students should actively seek hands-on experiences. By engaging in undergraduate, volunteer, or part-time work in healthcare settings, students can gain practical experience and enhance their skills as well as gain confidence.

The Benefits of a Holistic Approach

Compound the experience you gain with additional benefits seeking your own learning goals. By adopting a more comprehensive approach, nursing students can expect improved clinical skills, better communication, and critical thinking abilities. This will better equip them for the challenges and complexities of the nursing profession, leading to a more fulfilling career.

The “Old” Way Is Fading

The “old” way of relying on traditional nursing education is on its way out, as the need for adaptable and well-rounded nurses becomes apparent. A more comprehensive approach, integrating theory, practice, and soft skills, is the future of nursing education, ensuring that students are prepared for the ever-changing healthcare landscape and contribute to improving patient care.

Atomic Essay Titled Redefining Nursing Education: Embracing a Holistic Approach for a Successful Career
Redefining Nursing Education: Embracing a Holistic Approach for a Successful Career

5 Tips for New Graduate Nurses Getting Started With Their Career

Starting a new job as a graduate nurse can be an intimidating experience, but with the right advice, support, and tips mentioned in this post, you can make the most of your new career.

Table of Contents

Here are five tips to help you navigate the challenges of being a new graduate nurse:

πŸ™‹πŸΌβ€β™‚οΈ Ask Questions and Seek Help

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and reach out for assistance when needed. Everyone was once a new graduate nurse, and it can be comforting to know that you are not alone in this journey. Your colleagues, supervisors, and mentors can provide valuable insight and support to help you succeed. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of your resources.

Extra Tip: Have a system for your continued learning and growth. Clinical and non-clinical.

⏰ Time Management

Being mindful of your time and prioritising your tasks is an essential part of being a successful new graduate nurse. Make sure to take regular breaks and pace yourself to avoid burnout. Prioritising your work, taking breaks, and developing good time management habits will help you stay on top of your workload.

Extra Tip: This is unique to you! Developing nursing skills is an ongoing and dynamic process. Check out the podcast I recorded with the Two Humerus Nurses, where time management was the theme of the recording. I share the same resource I used as a student with my students and graduates, and they find it helps them to reduce distractions and focus on categorising their patients’ care. Download Your Copy.

πŸ‘₯ Build Relationships with Your Colleagues

Building positive and supportive working relationships with your colleagues will make your work environment more enjoyable and help you learn from each other. It is important to build relationships with your peers and supervisors in order to get the most out of your job.

Extra Tip: Start this in your first year of nursing! If you are serious about nursing, then commit to it and network with others. You have a lot of chances to make connections and build a network for your future at university and on placements. In the third year and beyond, attend conferences at least annually in your field and interest area. You are here now in your graduate year, continue to build on the relationships you have and develop new ones along your path.

πŸ€ Maintain a Growth Mindset

Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and continuous learning. Stay open-minded and willing to try new things. Don’t be afraid to take risks and challenge yourself.

Extra Tip: You will always be learning something new. Be inquisitive and enjoy the fun of learning with others while performing your job. It’s ok if you do not like something, especially if you have given it a try and enjoyed the journey. It’s all about experience first, then identifying second, and finally choosing what aligns with you.

πŸ₯Έ Focus on Patient-Centred Care

Always put the patient first.

Focus on giving your patients good care with compassion and building good relationships with them and their families. As a newly graduated nurse, it’s important to give your patients good care and get to know them well.

Extra Tip: Concentrate on this and work from there. This will help you with the environment as the stresses, people, and workload change to focus on what is truly a priority and of concern to your patient and yourself.

These tips can help you become a successful and well-rounded new graduate nurse.

With a bit of hard work and dedication, you can make the most of your new career.

Head out and have a great time!

Remember to savour the experience!

You’ve earned it!

Take a moment to dive into your progress, learning, and growth.

Reach out if you need anything πŸ˜ƒ

Graduate Nursing Applications: 8 Tips To Help You Prepare for the Application Process

Prepare Early ⌚️

Preparing for your graduate application begins in year 1 of your nursing studies, not when you download the information package for the position you are applying for and ends when you are asked your first question, sitting across from your new manager (potentially).

There is more to Placement! πŸ’₯

Your clinical placements are not just for skill development or for you to complete your practical experience or time. Your placement experience is a fantastic opportunity for you to identify the clinical areas and health services you want to work for!

It doesn’t stop there…

Networking is Powerful πŸ’¬

Talking with others who are working in areas you can see yourself working in or have similar interests or career pathways that resonate with you can supercharge your progression forward. Starting with your placements, connect with staff, other students and professionals. The more you engage and immerse in clinical placements, the more you will learn about yourself, and gain insight and further perspective on the industry and what you are interested in. At the same time, you are marketing yourself – for the next position!

Research – Knowledge is πŸ’ͺ🏼

Be aware of when and how your health service or program provider recruits for their positions and what they are seeking from you.

If you are an undergraduate and you have additional questions, you may want to consider contacting the hospital educator to ask additional questions and show your interest in the position.

Once the positions are released, read the advertisement carefully for any keywords, download the application information and documentation and be sure to research the hospital and/or health service you are applying for.

Make the Right Decision πŸ€”

Talk with people in similar professions for general advice on the company and clinical area to see if it suits you, your needs, and your goals.

Prepare πŸ’»

Read the application information carefully and thoroughly to ensure you understand the requirements.

Organise relevant persons to act as referees and provide references for you. Ideally, you will require written references and contacts as a student as well as student documentation, or at least one of these. Plus, a minimum of 2 verbal contacts as well to include with your application.

Conduct revisions and updates to existing documents (Cover Letter, CV, Selection Criteria) and plan the development of anything new that is specifically required.

Ensure you know and monitor the dates, contacts and progress of each application, what you have provided and where you would rather work based on programs, locations, entitlements, conditions, culture, clinical work etc.

Develop, Review & Execute πŸš€

Write a cover letter!

Construct or update your curriculum vitae relevant to the position, you and your experience, education and skills in the area of work.

Address each selection criteria if requested.

Organise all of your documentation and particulars for uploading to portals as requested and emailing them to the relevant people promptly.

Be a step ahead! πŸ˜‰

Get your hard copy or digital portfolio, CV and/or any evidence or supporting documentation ready for the application & interview as you go along the way.

Enjoy the journey & application process!

You’ve got this πŸ’ͺ🏼