All about OR nursing!

  1. Hi! My name is Emily. I am graduating from nursing school in less that two months (woohoo!!!). I've had a job waiting on me in surgial ICU for two years now, but my mother is taking the position as director of the unit, thus making it against policy for me to work there. I've already began orientation for the job and have done all of my precepting in SICU.

    Since I am being moved to another area of the hospital after being promised a job in SI, the hospital is allowing me to choose my specialty area. My goal is to become a Surgical Physicians Assistant so I chose to move to surgery.

    To be perfectly honest, I'm scared out of my mind! I have been in surgeries before, observing for school, but never to work. I thought I would survey those who have worked there before to gauge the area and find some more things out. To do so, I have a few questions:

    What are pros/cons of working in the OR?
    I have a pretty tough stomach and have dissected cadavers and the like, but how hard it is it to handle the gore and the saws, etc?
    What personality traits make for successful OR nurses?
    What do you actually do?

    I'm sorry for the wall of tex tand loads of questions, but I hate to dive into something without having a firm understanding of it. Thanks for any and all input
  2. Visit EmilyP8589 profile page

    About EmilyP8589, ADN, BSN, RN

    Joined: Mar '12; Posts: 14; Likes: 2


  3. by   LovedRN
    I haven't work in OR yet so I can't answer your questions.

    Have you read this article?

    It might help you with your questions.

  4. by   C.J.
    I am not an RN yet, I am merely an EMT who is working as an anesthesia tech in the OR right now working towards nursing school. Working in the OR is like stepping into is a place unlike any other! Pros I've observed so far include the fact that the perioperative nurses (mostly circulating, in that they aren't sterile, but some actually scrub up and are first assists) are able to advocate 1 on 1 for their patients one at a time. This allows for the nurse to provide efficient care before surgery (you have to interview them and make sure they are prepped, receive proper meds, etc.), during surgery (assist with anesthesia induction, do instrument counts, make sure who ever is scrubbing in has proper tools, make sure family is updated on status of patient, assist with crashing patients by taking over with anesthesia), and after (counting again, transporting the patient to PACU, giving report to PACU nurse, provide plan of care template, transfer, etc.) the operation. Working this summer was the first time I was exposed to the OR environment, and to be honest I was surprised with the cleanliness of it all. Yes, some surgeries involved a considerable amount of "blood and gore." For example, after orthopedic surgeries it wouldn't be a surprise to find bloody bone chunks lying around the OR, or the smell of GI surgeries involving septic trauma (yes, there is a wintergreen solution you can put on your mask, don't worry!). As a perioperative nurse, if you circulate you will be watching the OR from a very broad "big picture" situation, looking for details of distress from the scrubbed tech/assistant, the surgeon, or the anesthesiologist/CRNA, so you won't be right there. However if your hospital chooses to train nurses to scrub in, then you will see more blood for sure! One big trait plus is the ability to collaborate with others and be a "team player." As the perioperative RN, you will be the glue holding everything together, as the coach, the manager, and the cheerleader for "Team Patient!" Nothing makes a surgery sour quicker than an OR nurse who doesn't play that way, because it takes the focus off the patient and makes the other team members uncomfortable. Another great trait is what I call the "mother hen" personality. Some of the best OR nurses I have met have had the mindset that they would take a bullet for their patients. I have seen nurses fight for patient advocacy PERIOPERATIVELY...that's right, they would raise their voice in protest for the patient during a surgery if the surgeon, surgical tech, or the anesthesia provider said something out of turn or stepped out of line. As far as what I do, I have been an EMT for 2 years, and an anesthesia technician (assists the anesthesia provider, nurses, and others involved in anesthesia) for just a short while while finishing up my prerequisites. It is TOUGH in the OR at first, especially if you are young (I am only 20, which is young for an OR staff member). When you step into a world where the staff has known each other for years and is in a room with each other for hours at a time, they sometimes get a bit dysfunctional (in a good way!). They are a family to say the least, and at first they might be tough on you, but give it some time and they will accept you. I am back in college now not working, but I miss the OR so much! By the end of my time there, they had accepted me as family and I still go back and visit the OR staff every now and then. I hope I helped!
  5. by   EmilyP8589
    Wow, cj. Thank you so much for your input! This is exactly what I was looking for. Makes me feel a heck of a lot better about stepping into this unknown world. ))
  6. by   C.J.
    Not a problem, EmilyP8589! The OR is a great place to work, and when I graduate I am contemplating going back, at least to PACU/POCU. Like I said, it can be a bit scary and overwhelming at first, but just take it one day at a time, remember that nothing lasts forever, and enjoy your weekends and time off! If you go into OR, before you know it you will be missing the team(s) during your time off and calling to check in on them .