In 2023, Manitoba introduced a new role to operating theatres and procedure rooms, adding Operating Room Assistants (ORAs) to many of the teams responsible for the safe and effective delivery of surgical and procedural care across the province.

With ORAs now working in facilities and programs across Manitoba, the program is enjoying real success, supporting additional cases and improved efficiency while maintaining a very high standard of care.

We checked in with teams at a number of facilities across Manitoba to ask how the ORAs are contributing to the delivery of care. Here’s what we heard from some of their teams/co-workers.

Selkirk – Operating Room Assistants Kamila and Kerri.

“We have two ORAs working full-time at our site, one assigned to Endoscopy and the other to the operating room.

On the Endoscopy side, our ORA is helping pull and assemble our scopes, escorting patients, and helping in medical device reprocessing if things get backed up. They also support with room turnovers and at the end of each day make sure to input patient names and information into the system for the next day.

Within the operating room, our ORA damp dusts and sets up the room, making sure the most current slate matches the cases selected for that day. They help the circulating nurse with anything they need during the case, running for emergency blood, assisting with positioning, opening sterile packages, or grabbing extras supplies as they are needed.

We are very grateful for the ORAs who have joined our program. Our ORAs have been a huge value, offering technical support with equipment and supplies to expedite startup and shutdown of theatres, and helping with room turnovers, equipment and supply checks.

It’s clear these new members of our teams take great pride in their role, are eager and willing to take on new tasks within their scope and training.

Surgical Services Educator – Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority

Manager, Health Service OR/Regional MDR/Regional Endoscopy – Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority

Grace General Hospital – “The Mikes”

The ORAs at the Grace have been an incredible addition to our team.  They anticipate our needs and have applied their skills to help us become more efficient while still providing high quality patient care. 

They are often one step ahead of us having equipment ready, assisting with position changes, abdominal pressures and always seem to be at the right place at the exactly right time during endoscopic procedures! 

They are always willing to help in whatever capacity they are needed.  The Mikes (Mike and Mike) are an integral part of the endoscopy team here at the Grace. It’s difficult to imagine how we functioned without them!

Clinical Resource Nurse, Endoscopy, Grace General Hospital

Our ORA team of Mike and Mike have been such a welcome addition to our operating room! When the ENDO suites can spare them, our ORA team of Mike and Mike brings their skills to help us in the Grace OR. They are a welcome addition to our operating room, allowing the theatres to maintain seamless transitions between cases. This hard-working duo can be counted on to jump in and lend a hand in any service, whenever needed. We are truly fortunate to have them on our team!

Peri-Operative Educator, Grace General Hospital

Health Sciences Centre – “Rock Star” Additions to Endoscopy Services

HSC OR's posed for a picture. L-R
Christina Murta, Barbara Watson, ildefonso Magno, Laurel Wakefield, Kelsi Buoncore

L-R Christina Murta, Barbara Watson, ildefonso Magno, Laurel Wakefield, Kelsi Buoncore

I would like to highlight our “Rock Star” Krystal who was part of the first graduating class of ORAs in Manitoba. Krystal transitioned from working as a Nurse Assistant to an ORA seamlessly and was highly motivated to learn right from the start. She is quick to ask questions and welcomes the opportunity to participate in new experiences. She is also highly skilled and actively requests to be in the most challenging cases. I can already see that the leadership skills that Krystal has will also make her a great teacher as she shares her knowledge with the next class of ORAs.

Krystal is a great example of a team player, actively watching during cases to anticipate the needs of the nurses and physicians, and offering a smile and kindness toward our patients and other members of the team.

Clinical Resource Nurse, Endoscopy/Bronchoscopy

The Operating Room Assistants who joined our team in Thoracic Endoscopy at HSC have made a great impact on the care we provide. We have been able to increase our efficiency and the number of procedures we are able to do each day.

The ORAs are an integral part of our health care team, taking on tasks and duties that allow our nurses more time to focus on tasks that require specialized nursing skills or that involve time spent treating and educating our patients. Together, we have reduced our procedural waitlists, giving patients timelier treatment and cancer diagnosis.

Ildefonso was the first ORA to join our team and is considered a total star. He is a vital team member with vast knowledge of our area and a very strong work ethic. He is always up for a challenge, is constantly improving the organization in our area, and is an inspiration to his co-workers. 

Clinical Resource Nurse, Thoracic Endoscopy, HSC

“We’ve been able to add a gastroscopy procedure at the end of each day, thanks to the improved efficiency and flow of our team, including our two operating room assistants.”

Manager of Patient Care, Surgical Procedures, HSC

Operating Room Assistants are a recent addition to Manitoba health care teams, supporting a variety of clinical and non-clinical functions that ensure safe and effective delivery of surgical/procedural care.

Each ORA must successfully complete a 12-week micro credential program as well as a two-week in-person clinical practicum where they train and work alongside a nurse mentor and experienced colleagues that have identified the duties in their day-to-day work that could be completed by an ORA.

Eligible participants must have a minimum of grade 12 education as well as completed a recognized, comprehensive Health Care Aide course and at least three years of recent experience working in an acute care setting, with OR/surgical experience preferred. The micro-credential is offered at no cost with a valid return of service agreement.

For more information, or to apply, visit Operating Room Assistant (

Ivy Garcia has been hard at work. A student in Manitoba’s first class of operating room assistants (ORAs), Garcia and 29 peers at facilities across the province have spent the past 12 weeks blazing a new trail, participating in a demanding combination of online and skills lab activities that have prepared them for their new roles in surgical, operating and procedural environments.

It’s a challenging schedule, well-suited to students like Garcia, who has significant experience working as a health-care aide and a perioperative aide and who was recognized for her strong work ethic and motivation. 

“I was approached and encouraged to apply,” said Garcia, who has worked as a perioperative aide in HSC Winnipeg for nine years. “They recognized my motivation and thought that I could be successful in leveling up my skills.”

“The first half of the course was tough, learning the skills that would be one of the requirements to finish this course. My manager told me what to expect and once, I started working in the unit they helped me with everything I might need. I feel so glad that I am able to work in this area and I’m gaining lots of experience,” added Garcia.

Each ORA is training and working alongside a nurse mentor who expressed an interest in participating in the program. The mentors have identified the duties within their day-to-day work that can be completed by someone other than a nurse and have been working with the ORAs throughout their education and training.

It’s a role that Maureen Fudge, Clinical Resource Nurse in HSC’s Plastic Surgery, Reconstruction and Burns Unit, was quick to express an interest in.

“When our manager first asked who would be interested, I put together all the duties that I am responsible for that aren’t nursing roles, and felt that an ORA could really benefit our team,” said Fudge, who is working alongside Garcia. “We do some pretty complex cases here and there’s a lot behind the scenes that I support that is not nursing related, so having somebody to help has been really valuable.”

Two women stand in an operating theatre.
Maureen Fudge (left) and Ivy Garcia (right)

The connection between Garcia and Fudge is obvious as they talk about the role and the experience, expressing appreciation for each other and even completing each other’s sentences.

“In plastics we are very much a team and everyone works closely together so fitting into that dynamic is important. We knew that Ivy would be a great fit since we’ve worked with her previously,” said Fudge who has worked in the same unit as Garcia for the past nine years. “Ivy has had to learn a lot in a short period of time but she is committed to doing the work required, participating in the skills labs, and learning about the surgeries we are doing, the different equipment they each require, as well as things like how to open sterile supplies and how to turn the room over between surgeries.”

On a day-to-day basis, Fudge said, there may be two or three plastic surgery operating rooms running at the same time. The addition of a dedicated ORA is helping Fudge complete her patient-care duties, while ensuring that the necessary work to prepare for upcoming cases is done, something that she sees as a significant benefit.

“I encourage my co-workers to participate in the program if they have the opportunity,” said Fudge. “The ORAs can only help us. There are so many things that we do as a CRN that takes away from the time we have available for patient care. Having Ivy able to support those roles that don’t need to be completed by a nurse has been so helpful.”

This sense of appreciation for the newest member of the Plastic Surgery, Reconstruction, and Burns team is obvious and has created a welcoming, supportive environment as Garcia starts in her new role. 

“They are so kind to me. I’m so blessed with those people who are around me right now. I love working with them and supporting them,” said Garcia who confirmed that despite the hard work, she would make the decision to apply all over again. 

“Yes, definitely and I encourage my more senior coworkers to consider this opportunity. Come and join the team. You have the ability and the capacity to do well.”

Operating Room Assistants are working in operating and procedure rooms throughout Manitoba. Learn more about this important new role in Manitoba’s health system, or apply for a future intake, here.

My name is Ken. I am an internationally educated nurse living in Manitoba, Canada. 

My Canadian journey began when my family and I came to Manitoba more than ten years ago. Though this journey required some sacrifices, especially for my parents, I can say that it has definitely been worthwhile.

I graduated from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. When I arrived in Manitoba, my main focus was to get my credentials recognized by the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba. It’s a rigorous process but after several months I successfully obtained my Manitoba RN license and started my career in Canada as a nurse. Since then I’ve had the privilege of working in various clinical, leadership, and volunteer roles in Manitoba.

My first nursing job in Canada was at Manitoba’s largest hospital, Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg (HSC). I started in an acute medicine clinical teaching unit and from there, completed additional education to work at the hospital’s surgical intensive care unit (SICU). I provided critical care nursing to trauma, neurosurgical, surgical, and burn patients. I also had the opportunity to be a clinical education facilitator for third year nursing students from the University of Manitoba, a role that allowed me to teach and facilitate the integration of theory and clinical practice.  

Along the way, I completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry at the University of Winnipeg as well as my Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba.

Over the years, I moved into management roles where I led and managed different clinical programs, including long-term care, personal care, and critical care. My unique combination of education and experience opened doors for me and I was proud to become the first civilian senior officer of the Communications division with the Winnipeg Police Service. In this role I was responsible for 9-1-1 and digital communications systems.

Today, I am CancerCare Manitoba’s Chief of Clinical Operations, a role that allows me to improve cancer services in Manitoba and the experience of Manitobans burdened with cancer. 

Throughout my career, I have believed in doing my ordinary duties extraordinarily well with not only competence but also compassion and commitment. This mindset, in a province of countless opportunities, creates an ideal environment for success.

Manitoba is a place where you can find a sense of belonging amongst a diverse and multicultural population. The diversity here offers many opportunities to learn about different cultures, customs, and ways of life, and creates a unique and exciting environment to grow and thrive.

The communities here are large enough to offer many affordable options for where you want to live and enjoy life’s pleasures and small enough to feel like family. The community’s support means anyone new to Manitoba doesn’t have to feel alone. It’s a place where people are friendly, welcoming, and always willing to lend a hand. 

Manitoba summers are particularly beautiful, and I enjoy every opportunity to be outdoors, hiking, exploring different trails and parks, and spending time with friends and family. Yes, Manitoba is also known for its winters but the changing seasons offer lots to do! Manitoba is the place where you can experience the northern lights, ice skate on river trails, ice fish on frozen lakes, watch hockey games, watch the sunset over the prairies, and so much more.

In my time living and working here I have come to appreciate all that Manitoba has to offer!

This is a place of opportunity for your personal and professional growth and development, whether in your education, career, or personal life. The opportunities here are endless, the communities are vibrant, the nature is pristine, and the quality of life is exceptional. My journey as an internationally educated nurse in Manitoba has been incredible.

As an immigrant, I am proud and grateful for what my family and I have achieved and contributed to the community here in Canada.

As a nurse, I feel privileged for the opportunities I’ve had to contribute my knowledge and perspectives to the improvement of the healthcare system and the best possible care for Manitobans.

I encourage you to come to Manitoba, where your goals and dreams can become a reality.

“I was born and raised in northern Manitoba. When I left home to train as a nurse in Winnipeg I thought I might travel to work elsewhere but after I graduated, I came home.

I’ve been a nurse for 28 years. I think working up here you get a broader nursing experience than you would many other places. You have an opportunity to handle a wide variety of cases, and it’s really interesting work.

I work in maternity but because it’s a smaller facility, we don’t just work in one area, we’re cross-trained to work in all of them. In my case, I can work in labour and delivery, obstetrical triage, pre and post-partum care, and also in the nursery where we manage intermediate care and sometimes higher risk babies. I’ve been fortunate to be able to work in all of these areas throughout my career.

The opportunity to work in the north gives you exposure to a lot of different scenarios. It’s such a great experience and you’re never alone to figure things out. The team up here has your back and there’s always someone to help or talk you through a particular case.

We are a close-knit group, not only with our nursing colleagues but with the physicians, dietician, housekeeping and so on. It’s a community.

For nurses who come to join our team, either for a few shifts or who decide to come back regularly, it’s a really welcoming environment. For those of us who are from here, we want you to love our home town so it’s not unusual for visiting nurses to be invited out for after-work activities. There’s something to be said for northern hospitality! The north is my home and I love it up here.

My family loves the outdoors and the north offers endless adventure just minutes from town. In the summer, there are nearby locations great for camping and fishing. There are a lot of good trails for hiking or ATV’ing. And in the winter, we bundle up to snowmobile, ice fish, or even hit the slopes at the nearby ski hill!

The north is my home and I love it up here.”

– Shannon Lindstrom, Nurse, Thompson, Man.

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