how to retain knowledge and skills when working in a specialty?

  1. 0
    Hello everyone!
    I'm a relatively new grad of '08 with 6 months experience on an orthopedics floor. I will soon be starting a new job in the OR at a pediatric hospital. While I am truly excited to start in this field of nursing, part of me is still hoping that somewhere in the future, be it 3, 5, 10 years.. i may have the opportunity to work again with "conscious" patients, perhaps on the floor or otherwise. I know there are parts of nursing, such as the patient contact, that I will surely miss.

    That being said.. How do you suggest I keep my skills and knowledge updated? Did any of you working in a specialty such as the OR switch to another area of nursing and find it difficult to cope? How did you work through it?

    Thanks for the suggestions!

    oh in case anyone can benefit, this is an excellent site that provides all the recent findings in studies regarding healthcare practices. --> http://www.uptodate.com/home/clinicians/index.html
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  4. 10 Comments so far...

  5. 0
    is there anyway you can keep the job as PRN in ortho?
  6. 0
    It's good that you are thinking of the future. However, for now you need to think about learning and totally immersing yourself in your current placement. There is no way of knowing what you will be doing even five years from now.
    Nursing has become very specialized (just like medicine) although no one verbally acknowledges this.

    We learn and use the skills of the unit we are on. If and when we go to a new unit then we have to learn those skills. A labor and delivery nurse would be totally lost in the ER, as an ER nurse would be totally lost in surgery.

    Focus on learning all you can about being a surgery nurse and then in the future you can change units if you want and then learn those skills.

    The beauty of nursing is that there are so many areas we can work in such as ICU, open heart, ortho, neuro, peds and on and on.

    Just show the willingness to learn and use new skills, be a patient advocate, develope good communication skills with doctors and staff and patients and then you will be able to transfer where ever you want.
  7. 0
    if you can, take a casual position at the ortho. but you know in those 5-10 yrs, things are going to change tons, so your going to have to learn a LOT anyhow. there is nothing you can do to prevent that part of things, and you will relearn.

    -H-RN
  8. 3
    What makes everyone think they lose skills when they work in a specialty area as the OR? I don't know what everyone thinks we do as OR nurses, but believe me we are more skilled in a lot of areas that go into other areas of the hospital. There are more times I can even count that OR nurses pick up on mistakes and generally missed observations that floor nurses or even other specialties just miss. I guess I just get a little tired reading this same inane post on "lost skills"! Just concentrate on what you need to get through the day. I can't say I am up to all the new drugs or even some new diseases, but just common nursing sense will always be there.
    gonzo1, Cherybaby, and GadgetRN71 like this.
  9. 0
    Good luck to you, but you WILL inevitably lose skills unless you frequent an ortho floor. That is reality.
  10. 1
    Quote from shodobe
    What makes everyone think they lose skills when they work in a specialty area as the OR? I don't know what everyone thinks we do as OR nurses, but believe me we are more skilled in a lot of areas that go into other areas of the hospital. There are more times I can even count that OR nurses pick up on mistakes and generally missed observations that floor nurses or even other specialties just miss. I guess I just get a little tired reading this same inane post on "lost skills"! Just concentrate on what you need to get through the day. I can't say I am up to all the new drugs or even some new diseases, but just common nursing sense will always be there.
    You are so right. Unfortunately, we are isolated behind those big doors in the OR so most people have no idea about OR nursing. I've started IVs, I put in foleys, I've started a blood transfusion in holding. We assess skin condition, give meds. I've even changed a colostomy wafer and bag on a patient before bringing them to PACU( the one the pt had was beyond nasty, with fecal material under the wafer!). It goes without saying that I've given a quickie bath/peri-care to a patient that had a Code Brown during/after surgery..in many cases you can tell that I was the first person to do it in a long time too..caked on dirt and grime.


    Op, I've known 2 or 3 nurses who have gone to different areas and done fine. I really think this "losing skills" nonsense is propaganda put forth by nursing instructors and desperate HR people to get people to work the floors.
    Cherybaby likes this.
  11. 0
    Quote from gonzo1
    It's good that you are thinking of the future. However, for now you need to think about learning and totally immersing yourself in your current placement. There is no way of knowing what you will be doing even five years from now.
    Nursing has become very specialized (just like medicine) although no one verbally acknowledges this.

    We learn and use the skills of the unit we are on. If and when we go to a new unit then we have to learn those skills. A labor and delivery nurse would be totally lost in the ER, as an ER nurse would be totally lost in surgery.

    Focus on learning all you can about being a surgery nurse and then in the future you can change units if you want and then learn those skills.

    The beauty of nursing is that there are so many areas we can work in such as ICU, open heart, ortho, neuro, peds and on and on.

    Just show the willingness to learn and use new skills, be a patient advocate, develope good communication skills with doctors and staff and patients and then you will be able to transfer where ever you want.
    thank you for that I thought of this while I was writing the original post, that I won't know what I'll want in years to come.. I guess I am looking for some comfort that the transition will not be too "rough" should I decide to pursue a different path.
  12. 0
    Quote from shodobe
    What makes everyone think they lose skills when they work in a specialty area as the OR? I don't know what everyone thinks we do as OR nurses, but believe me we are more skilled in a lot of areas that go into other areas of the hospital. There are more times I can even count that OR nurses pick up on mistakes and generally missed observations that floor nurses or even other specialties just miss. I guess I just get a little tired reading this same inane post on "lost skills"! Just concentrate on what you need to get through the day. I can't say I am up to all the new drugs or even some new diseases, but just common nursing sense will always be there.
    hmm.. i apologize if my post came off offensively to OR nurses. You could simply have responded "don't worry, you won't lose any skills or knowledge because you will still be performing them, and exposed to them in the OR."

    much more effective and constructive, no?
  13. 0
    Quote from SquirrelRN71
    You are so right. Unfortunately, we are isolated behind those big doors in the OR so most people have no idea about OR nursing. I've started IVs, I put in foleys, I've started a blood transfusion in holding. We assess skin condition, give meds. I've even changed a colostomy wafer and bag on a patient before bringing them to PACU( the one the pt had was beyond nasty, with fecal material under the wafer!). It goes without saying that I've given a quickie bath/peri-care to a patient that had a Code Brown during/after surgery..in many cases you can tell that I was the first person to do it in a long time too..caked on dirt and grime.


    Op, I've known 2 or 3 nurses who have gone to different areas and done fine. I really think this "losing skills" nonsense is propaganda put forth by nursing instructors and desperate HR people to get people to work the floors.
    I'm hoping that I can still get those opportunities I was an OR nursing student and my experience was that basic care (hygiene) was often delegated to orderlies, meds were given only by RT or anesthesia, and anesthesia was responsible for the pre-op assessment. I will still take the opportunity to be as involved as possible and ask questions. I guess the OR nursing experience will differ from hospital to hospital... oh and glad to hear those nurses transitioned well!


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