OR Circulator vs. PACU - page 2

by ijuanabhappy

If you had to choose an OR Circulator or PACU internship, which would you choose and why? Weigh in! ;)... Read More


  1. 0
    just Circulating or Scrubbing and Anaesthetic assistant as well ?

    my first job on qualifying was in theatres - if you were theatres staff you scrubbed and circulated and did a bit of the anaesthetic assistant stuff , although at that time the main anesthetic assistants were all ODPs and very fewer scrubside were ODPs
  2. 0
    Quote from canesdukegirl
    I have worked both PACU and OR. PACU is fast paced, you get to have some autonomy and you get to use your skills. OR (as a circulator) is really just "sterile waitressing". Although you DO have to be on point with the surgeon, with the surgery itself, and be vigilant of the complications that can occur during surgery (and be prepared for them), as a new grad I think it would be a better experience for you if you chose the PACU position.
    If you started out in OR what other unit can you move to and not feel like your starting all over again?
  3. 0
    Quote from aNYTrini-n-FLRN
    If you started out in OR what other unit can you move to and not feel like your starting all over again?
    Good question. The PACU would be the most logical choice, because you already know the flow of the perioperative setting, you know the staff, the anesthesiologists and the surgeons. You would have to learn a new skill set if you went from the OR to the PACU, however. For example, you would have to remember how to auscultate breath sounds, how to read an EKG, interpret labs, know the appropriate drugs to give in code situations, etc. I loved the PACU and will always have good memories of this experience.

    Med/surg is also an option.
  4. 3
    Sheesh, I find being a circulator anything but boring. Circulating is much more than being a waitress. especially if you're doing your job correctly. I like it because you advocate for the patient, but also have technical aspects- and surgery is just interesting, especially trauma.

    Personally, I would find Pacu boring as all heck. You're pushing pain meds, monitoring vital signs and discharging people. Maybe once in a while you'll see a code. Yawn- at my last hospital, the Pacu nurses were sitting about 70% of the time, looking up stuff on EBay or knitting. I suppose it's considered critical care to some people, but in my eyes, not so much.

    I vote OR-very rarely do you see OR nurses leaving the operating room. I had the opportunity to go to the ER and turned it down. I have one patient at a time, get my breaks and lunches 98% of the time and don't have to work every other weekend and holiday. There is call, but that isn't too bad. The surgeons are pretty good to us most of the time-they know that we can make their day go smoothly or maybe not?

    In contrast, we call the PACU "Salem" in my facility. Why? Because that's where the witches live. Not the happiest campers.
    spitcher2, prettymica, and jeckrn like this.
  5. 0
    just circulating or or scrub / circulate / anaesthetic assistant ? makes a difference
  6. 0
    "Witches"...yikes! I worked PACU Phase I for over three years and I really loved it. I had no time to knit or surf the internet because if I didn't have a patient or one coming in I would be trying to help the OR nurses or anesthesia. Also it was NOT boring at all, it was very rewarding and it's more than pushing meds. It is critical care and it can get hairy sometimes too. You're responsible for bringing people back and doing it safely and to help minimize their pain...safely. It's a lot of pharmacology knowledge and knowing the half life of not only pain meds, but of the anesthesia meds...s/s, side effects, what to do if something happens and then there is the cardiology aspect. What happens when a bp is sky rocketing - is it pain, pt forget bp meds or what if the bp is bottoming out? LOTS to think about FAST and react FAST. There's a lot of autonomy there and you work very closely with anesthesia and develop a lot of trust with them.

    Now the OR...I LOVE the OR now that I'm a FT circulator. I do not think it's boring at all either, but I work in a fast paced, run and get things done OR. I've been asked a lot lately what I like more PACU or OR (OR was always my dream job, but wound up in PACU first). I LOVE PACU for different reasons and I'm lucky I get to help out if things are busy where I work because the other OR nurses do not have PACU Phase I experience or ICU & Tele background. With that said I really love OR now. I'm comfortable where I'm at right now and that helps.

    Now I will say I thought the Phase II/Discharge/Outpatient nurses can be a bit cranky in past places I've worked. That's a whole different breed of nurses IMO. I couldn't do that job...lol! Not my cup of tea.
  7. 0
    Wow!
    thanks everyone
    I may have a job offer in one of these 2 areas. It looks to me that it is almost unanimous to go for the PACU.
    If they give me the job and a choice I will go for that.
  8. 0
    Hope it works out for u. Go to the forums for PACU and OR and see what they are talking about and how they feel about theire jobs. Often u will find new grads posting questions about the area and or problems for new grads in that area of care. I just started as a new grad in OR so i can't really tell u anything. Good luck
  9. 0
    They seem equally boring, but PACU maybe more fun when a patient is waking up from sedation. It is also not as cold as the OR. I want to work in the OR, i just love watching the surgeries. I have had the luxury of 2 rotations different rotation in the OR and PACU in 4 hospitals across my state(up north and down south), 75 percent PACU nurses were always the rude and unhappy ones. Good luck to you !


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