Purpose: To investigate the perceptions of perioperative nurses regarding the use and impact of cross-training in the perioperative department. Participants and setting: Scrub and scout perioperative nurses (n=8) who had completed a one-day recovery room cross-training program in a large tertiary private health care organisation in Western Australia.

Method: One-to-one, semi-structured interviews of perioperative scrub–scout nurses.

Findings: The participants perceived the positive aspects of cross-training were teamwork, professional satisfaction and added value to patient care. The aspects that inhibited participants from learning or taking part in the cross-training program were staffing issues, lack of confidence and burnout.

Conclusion: Cross-training supported effective staffing and quality patient care; however, training needs to be protected from disruption to ensure participants develop confidence and competence in the new areas contributing to workforce satisfaction, retention and patient safety.