I worked in med-surg for a year out of nursing school
and made the move to the OR last summer. The benefits: TONS. The down-side: none. Really. Maybe I just have the magical "OR" personality that you hear about, but I can't imagine how anyone would prefer med-surg over the OR. Of course, there are a wide variety of experiences in the OR. I work at a large teaching facility, so the MDs are used to answering questions and they are reasonably well-behaved. Some of the stuff I read about here (like swearing during a procedure), I couldn't imagine happening at our facility. It also helps that because we are so large, everyone specializes so you only have to get really good at your particular area (ortho or neuro or whatever).
The following comments are based on my experience.
In the OR, you don't have to arrive until the start of your shift and you get to leave when it's over. (On the floor, you generally have to arrive early - unpaid- to start looking up your patients and their orders, and you don't leave until you're done with report and all your charting, which may or may not be as soon as your shift ends.) In the OR, most of the charting is relevant and useful information; on the floor, most of it was not useful, not especially meaningful, sometimes downright made-up, and really not ever looked at by anyone unless that patient happened to sue.
In the OR, you get lunch breaks and usually at least one other break during your shift. (On the floor, you're lucky to have time to go to the bathroom, let alone have 1/2 and hour to eat a sandwich and breathe during a 12-hour shift.) In the OR, you have the one patient that you're working on for the time that patient is with you. You may have several things you need to focus on about that one patient, but there is no such thing as having 3 or 4 (or more) other patients also waiting for you to do something for them. There are no call lights, halleluia! There is no standing in a patient's room for 20 minutes with your phone going off every 3 minutes, helping them to and from the bathroom because they refuse to use a urinal. There are no multiple requests for extraordinary pain meds that the patient knows the MD has DCed. There are no QH vital signs. There are no family members! (Not once the patient is out of pre-op.) There are no "code-browns." There is no getting stuck in a lonely patient's room while they decide that the middle of your 9:00 meds round is a good time for them to tell you their life story.
I will tell you this: last week, I had my worst day in the OR ever. It was still better than my best day ever on the floor. There actually is one downside and that is that because I worked nights on the floor and I work days in the OR, I lost my night differential so now I still have to pick up shifts on the floor once in a while to make up the difference in pay. It makes me so sad to have to do that! Whenever I head in for one of those pick-up shifts, I can feel my stomach tighten up with the lack of knowledge of what's going to slam me in the face this time. The OR is not 100% predictable, but it is much, much, much more predictable than the floor. That allows you to be prepared and have more control over how things go. Part of my problem on the floor is that I am someone who cares about giving great care to my patients, and it makes me angry when I don't have the resources to do that. Nurses who don't give a crap (and unfortunately, there are many) don't mind the floor so much, and I think they prefer it because they have so much more autonomy and it's so much easier for them to get away with under-working. You can't do that in the OR. You're on a team there and everyone has to pull their weight. But the team-work is the thing I like about it the best.
Things to ask about in the interview:
How long is orientation? What determines when you come off? (Our policy is that orientation lasts as long as the nurse needs it to. The ballpark is a year, unless you have previous OR experience.)
What hours are the shifts? Is it straight days, straight nights, weekends or weekdays, etc.? What's the policy for working weekends?
Why is this position available? What happened to the person whose spot you're looking to fill?
What's the turnover rate like in nursing in this department? Do nurses turnover quickly or do they tend to stick around?
How do the doctors treat the nurses? (No one is going to say, "Oh, they're just awful!" But you might be able to glean some information based on how they handle the question. Do they give a tempered response or do they enthusiastically tell you the MDs are great?)
Who would be your preceptor? Can you meet with him/her during the interview?
Ask the interviewer what they see as the best things and the biggest challenges of working there.
Be sure to emphasize the benefits of your med-surg experience: you can start IVs if needed (although OR nurses don't generally do this, which is why they generally suck at it and it can be handy to have someone who can do it), you've been in codes more than any OR nurse probably, you have a good grasp of how the different areas of the hospital work, if you need to deal with patients coming from or going to the floor then you know the issues that the floor nurses face preparing patients for surgery or caring for them afterward and can be an effective liaison, you are accustomed to intradisciplinary work, etc.
You'll do great! I think everyone should work OR!