I’m an RN in the Operating Room, but while in school, like lots of students, worked as a CNA. At the time I didn’t realize there were CNA jobs in the Operating Room. We actually call them Operating Room Assistants. The operating room assistant or operating room attendant shouldn’t be confused with a surgical technologist. Think of the surgical technologist like an LVN and the operating room assistant like the CNA.
This can be a great option for people considering working as an MA or CNA and want to work somewhere other than the floor. The job down in the OR is definitely different than on the floor or in the office.
So what do our operating room assistants do?
They transport patients from the floor down to the operating room.
They assist the RNs and Surgeons with positioning and prepping the patient for surgery.
They assist in emergencies by getting blood from the blood bank for the anesthesiologist to give.
They take specimens from the operating room to the pathology department for help with cancer diagnosis.
They help turn over the room between surgeries. This mean they help clean the room but more importantly they help configure the equipment needed for surgery. Depending on what kind of surgery we are doing, special equipment needs to be set up in the OR, and the operating room assistant helps with this.
Some hospitals have the operating room assistant scrub into surgery to hold retractors during surgery.
The operating room is fast paced, the operating room assistants work very hard, but there is also much more of a team in the OR. I think it’s pretty common for CNAs to get back injuries from heavy patients, but in the OR generally you are moving these patients with the assistance of the RN, surgeon and anesthesiologist.
Base pay is about the same for an operating room assistant as it is for a CNA, but often times take call in the OR. So in our OR, the operating room assistants work an 8 or 12 hr shift, but then at night or on the weekends will get $6.50/hr standby in case of added surgeries. So while you’re on call you can be doing what ever you want but just need to be at the hospital within 30 minutes if you get called. And if you do get called you get paid time and half for the hours you work. So at the end of the day, the operating room assistants make a fair bit more than the CNAs on the floor do.
You don't actually have to have your CNA certification for the job, but CPR is necessary. Then the training can either be on the job, or the ISIP operating room assistant course.
And… You get to see a lot of cool surgeries….