Witnessing My First Circ. as a Nursing Student
by Vicki Wild Mcleod (2002)


As the day began, I was already aware that I would need to witness a circ in order to get a satisfactory score for my clinical rotation in L&D. The mother that I was taking care of had delivered a healthy and beautiful baby the night before. He was gorgeous, with dark skin and a head of black hair. I remember that his face was full and round, not "smushed" like many newborns. My instructor informed me that he was scheduled to be circ'd when his pediatrician arrived that morning. She asked me to let her know when it was about to begin and she would go in with me, an instructor must watch you perform a task or at least have proof that you have witnessed a procedure before they will sign it off on your clinical record. I remember feeling reluctant to watch. Usually in nursing school you watch videos and discuss things in class prior to clinical to prepare you for the rotation. We had not seen or discussed in detail the procedure. My sons had been circ'd and I had read the text in the book...but deep inside I knew that I was not comfortable with the whole thing.

So, at about 11 am the MD asked if I would bring the baby to the nursery. I went to the room and told Mom and Dad that the doctor wanted to see the little one and that I would bring him back as soon as possible. Mom asked if he was going to be circ'd now and I said yes.....the words seem to stick in my throat.

Once in the nursery, we placed the little boy on the table in what looks like a tray...it has an indention for the head, arms and legs. I removed his diaper and placed a cloth over his genitals. The hospital nurse was opening the sterile circ tray and the MD was washing his hands. Then my instructor "helped" me strap his arms and legs to the board ( there are Velcro straps threaded in the arm and leg parts of the tray). By this time, he is screaming and crying, I gave him his pacifier and this seemed to calm him a little.

"Okay little man...this won't take but just a minute and you can go back to your momma" the doctor said in a cheerful voice.

He then took his fingers and examined the penis and tried to retract the foreskin. He placed the base of the Gomco over the penis and rested it upon the babies tummy. The penis was exposed and "threaded" through the medal opening. Taking a hemostat he inserted the tip inside the opening of the foreskin and pulled it open, loosening the foreskin back from the penile head. This took several attempts, he then clamped a hemostat to each side of the foreskin and the with a pair of surgical scissors he cut two small incisions in the foreskin. Then he pulled the foreskin back exposing the red and bloody penile head. He then placed what looks like a bell over the head of the penis and then clamped it to the base. The base rises up and pinches the foreskin against the bell. He then took a surgical blade and cut around the bell/base cutting the foreskin off.

Needless to say the baby screamed thru the whole thing, he was inconsolable. I was pale, dizzy and thought that I would faint at any moment. It was then that I walked out of the room, I went straight to the nurses lounge and into the bathroom. I sunk to the floor, the room was spinning and I could not believe what I had just seen.


I began working in a pediatricians office. After avoiding in office circ's for several months, the day came that I was the only nurse available in the office and once again I found myself at the circ table. Nothing had changed, the only difference was that this time the MD did inject a local anesthetic at the base of the penis.

It was then that I spoke with the physician that I worked for and explained that this was something that I absolutely could not do. Shortly after I had my son and I left the office on maternity leave and did not return to work there.

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