circulating nurse = "go-fer" with no use for "real" nursing skills?

  1. After 20 years of teaching, I'm back in school pursuing what I've always wanted to do: to be a nurse. I've always been interested in the OR and I am amazed at the number of RNs and fellow students who are trying to talk me out of it. Everyone tells me I'll be nothing but a "go-fer"....I will lose all my nursing skills.....I'll be stuck there because floors won't hire me since I'll have lost my skills. I don't know "for sure" that I want the OR but as of now it's high on my list of potential preceptor sites. The hospital system that I will be hired into is a large teaching hospital so 1) they use surg techs for scrubbing and 2) they use residents for first assists (which is a bummer because I would love to do that!). They offer a 6 month "periop 101" paid training program with a 2 year commitment. Nurses are taught to scrub in case techs aren't available or need to be relieved for breaks but it's mainly circulating duties.

    Circulating nurses -- please share with me what types of things you do! I get to shadow in the OR in a few weeks so I'm looking forward to that but I know I won't see everything.

    Thank you!
  2. Visit RunnerRN2015 profile page

    About RunnerRN2015, ASN

    Joined: Jul '11; Posts: 821; Likes: 779
    ER nurse; from US


  3. by   Rose_Queen
    Read this article:

    There is so much more to OR nursing than playing gofer. My guess would be that those RNs who are telling you this never worked in the OR. The same with the students. Generally, when people focus on observing the surgery, they miss the actual work of nursing that is done. Usually observers aren't even in the preop area to see that work.

    As for losing nursing skills, yes, you will probably lose some that are not used frequently in the OR (I've only given one IM injection in the OR- a tetanus shot on a peds trauma patient so he at least was spared a jab while awake). However, you will also learn many more skills. Each nursing specialty will have a set of skills that are specific to the work in the specialty, and some of the so-called basic nursing skills may not be used.
  4. by   RunnerRN2015
    Sweet Wild Rose, THANK YOU!
  5. by   Fleur-di-les-RN
    You will be putting in foleys, putting in IV's occasionally, assessing skin for color, temperature and skin breakdown, assessing pulses, use your critical thinking skills for positioning, if needed assessing breath sounds while you assist the CRNA's during intubation, using therapeutic communication skills while communicating with the patients and their families, occasionally drawing blood, on occasion changing out vents, and the great OR nurses that have been doing it a long time can anticipate exactly what instrument trays will be needed based on what the surgery is and what the surgeon needs to do.....I think ALL of this requires excellent nursing skills. You WILL be multi tasking and you will be part of a team that relies on you to make the surgery a success, not to mention you will be witness to some amazing interventions and see up close and personal the inner workings of the human body. You WON'T be juggling 8 patients at a time and stressing out over how behind you are.

    BTW, some of the best ICU nurses I have worked with while I was in nursing school started out in the OR, they are very meticulous and are excellent nurses, you won't lose your skills if you go to floor or ICU later on in your career, your skills are part of you as a nurse and it will come back to you when you need it.

    I love surgery, it's fascinating and I'm proud to be an OR nurse. Go for it!!
  6. by   RunnerRN2015
    Fleur-di-les...thank you so much! Reading what you wrote is exactly what I wanted to hear.
  7. by   ButtonNose
    Well said Fleur-di-les!!
  8. by   CVORBOY
    The OR rocks. Don't let anyone talk you out of it if its truly what you want to do. Come join the "club"
  9. by   RunnerRN2015
    Quote from CVORBOY
    The OR rocks. Don't let anyone talk you out of it if its truly what you want to do. Come join the "club"
    I'm planning on it!
  10. by   srandall1492
    I'm so glad I came across this thread. I have an interview for neuro OR this Wednesday, but with no OR experience I really have no idea if that's what I want to do. I really want a job, but all through school and my final preceptorship my goal was to be a critical care nurse. I could always switch later, right?
  11. by   badgerRN
    I teched in an OR during nursing school. I loved first assisting and scrubbing.

    My advice is to look at the 2 sides of the coin.

    1. Doing your practicum in the OR will give you a chance to see if it is what you want to do and may get your foot in the door there.

    2. It can limit your job options. Unit Directors outside of the OR may be reluctant to hire you. Think about the skills you will develop in the few shifts you have for practicum. Can you get enough experience to have any degree of proficiency? In my experience it is tough to get an OR job. What skills from the OR can you market to a med/surg unit director if the OR does not hire?

    I always suggest ICU or Med Surg for practicum, those skills go anywhere. Especially ICU for OR, those patients go for surgery too and having that works. PACU could be a good way to go too. A good set of universal skills and you would be in close interaction with the OR people.

    Just my 2 cents
  12. by   cdsga
    It all depends on you. I started in ICU, then went to PACU then to the OR. I always was interested in the OR, but my nursing school instructors told me I wasn't cut out for it. Well I made my haters my motivators.
    Every case is new, different variables even when setting up for the same case type.
    You have to rethink nursing and what it truly is. We are healers, that means that we learn ways to prepare patients for surgery-we advocate for safety and patient directives while they can't speak. We know policy because we are directly held responsible for the policies. We speak up, speak out, and speak for all members of the team as well as the patient.
    So while it is not as "touchy-feely" as other types of nursing, we are the defenders of the patient and our practice.
    I will say that when you start out, you are a go-fer. To prevent this you learn to be prepared and anticipate needs based on the patient history, then you won't have to run so much. There will always be times when special things are needed that can't be anticipated, but that's part of the deal. You learn delegation, utilize resources and start compiling the things that you observe as something to keep or something to discard, especially when observing other nurses and how they organize and practice their craft.
    The experienced nurse learns to adapt, while the novice tries to do things by the book. It takes time and evaluation of how to do things better. The best OR nurses keep a humble attitude, knowing that something can always go wrong-When you think you've got it made-watch out.
  13. by   cdsga
    In terms of marketing yourself-you must think about things that you do. Efficiency, organization, prioritization, clinical abilities in medication administration, emergency response, effective communication and delegation, documentation, and proficiency in organizational efforts concerning SCIP and other JCAHO and quality initiatives, i.e., infection prevention and patient safety issues. Not failing to mention the ability to assist in bedside procedures-that other nurses may not feel comfortable with. Key thing is not to sell yourself short when trying out for a different nursing path.
    Last edit by cdsga on Sep 4, '13 : Reason: additional comments needed
  14. by   shodobe
    The problem here is your getting advice from people who have never set foot in an OR and haven't a clue what goes on behind "The Door"! All of the answer above were correct and to the point. I've been at this for 38 years and still consider the best nurses in the hospital come from the OR. We all get a taste of floor nursing during school but that one or two days you get in the OR doesn't even come close to what the nurses deal with on a daily basis. I might not be up on some aspects of floor nursing because times change and so does floor nursing. But I could go and hold my own there, whereas they couldn't carry my scrubs. So your best bet would be to listen to OR nurses and not floor nurses.