Gloves and giggles – Auburn Hospital tour eases young patient’s nerves

Young patient Avah with her grandparents Sharon and Bruce Laughlin, supervised by perioperative nurse manager Mia Shui and preadmission nurse manager Debra Smith.

Surgery can be a daunting prospect for adults, let alone children, but it’s nothing a balloon glove can’t fix.

Four-year-old Avah Laughlin went behind the scenes at Auburn Hospital yesterday ahead of having her tonsils removed in two weeks, with grandparents in tow to ease everyone’s nerves.

Auburn Hospital perioperative nurse manager Mia Shui said it was great to see surgical staff win their young patient’s trust.

“At first she was naturally quite shy and hiding behind her grandpa, but by the end of the tour she totally opened up and had a big smile on her face,” Mia said.

“She got to play with a mask and we inflated a glove to make a balloon. Now when she comes back for her operation she won’t be frightened by the people dressed in blue wearing masks.”

The special tour was arranged to celebrate National Perioperative Nurses Week, recognising the highly-skilled nurses who help patients before, during and after surgery.

Australian Catholic University nursing students also had their own hands-on tour of the operating theatres at Auburn Hospital, getting the full experience of donning gowns and masks for a mock caesarean section.

Westmead Hospital perioperative services senior nurse manager Lee-Ann McDonald said theatre nursing includes several rewarding roles that require a unique set of skills.

“The surgery can’t happen unless the patient is prepared correctly. Then while the procedure is underway, the patient usually can’t speak for themselves so the nurse is their advocate,” Lee-Ann said.

“Recovery also requires a lot of skill and attention to detail as you monitor the patient’s vital signs while they wake up. So all the roles are very intensive, critical care roles that are focused on the patient and their wellbeing.”

Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) has several options for graduate nurses to experience different kinds of perioperative nursing at Westmead, Blacktown, Auburn and Mount Druitt hospitals.

The next perioperative intakes in the WSLHD Nursing and Midwifery GradStart Program are in February, March and May – find out more here or email

For current WSLHD employees interested in transitioning to perioperative practice, find out more here or email