Romelyn Icot - scrub nurse 


Romelyn Icot conquered her fear of blood when she became a scrub nurse. She tells us what it’s like to spend up to eight hours a day in the operating theatre.


My day starts at…
5.45am. I have a cup of boiled rice and pork for breakfast – one of the three cups of rice I have a day. Nothing else gives me the energy boost I need. And a cup of coffee is essential.

My job involves…
Assisting the surgeons as they operate. I make sure all the
instruments are available and laid out before they start – some sets of instruments are heavier than I am! I pass the surgeon the instruments, trying to anticipate their needs and ensure all the safety checks are done and that everything stays sterile. I even count all the instruments and swabs before, during and after the patient is sewn up to ensure nothing has been left inside them.

On a typical day I...

Work from 8am to 7.30pm. I might be in two four-hour- long cancer surgeries, or nine
45-minute long diagnostic procedures – every day is different. I have got used to standing for long periods and sitting down seems strange now. I’d always hated blood but I challenged myself to overcome my fear when I got a job as a scrub nurse. It took two months but I did it!

How I become a scrub nurse… 
I did my nursing training in the Philippines, where I am from, and worked as a scrub nurse for two years. I wanted more independence, I was living at home and my parents and gran were doing everything for me, and so I moved to London in 2016. I spent six months shadowing and learning the system here – the Philippines does things in a more American way – and gained a British nursing qualification.

The best thing about my job is…
When a surgeon tells me that a patient is doing really well after their operation. I also love being involved in difficult cases and evaluating how I did afterwards.

The worst thing is…
Seeing a patient back in the theatre because their cancer has come back – that is heart-breaking.

After work…
I go for a run each Sunday to give me energy for the week ahead. And I make a point of travelling – around Britain or abroad – at least once a month. France and Switzerland are beautiful. So is Edinburgh but it can be cold!

If I could do something else…
I actually wanted to be an accountant but my mum, who had always wanted to be a nurse herself, persuaded me to do nursing. I fell in love with working in the operating theatre. I think it is a real gift to have a job that you enjoy so much.