I ask this GREAT Nursing Community to Please Help Me with Picking Up the Pieces

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    I just signed up for this wonderful site and think it is awesome that as a community we can be there for one another. I promise that I will “pay it forward” by helping those that ask for it of me now and in the future in any way I can, but now to all you that are reading this I need your help in any way that you can give it.

    I will try to keep this as short as possible for I know you are not here to read about my life story. Even though this is anonymous it is still hard for me to write about. I graduated nursing school in 2009 and got my first job as a RN on a med/surg floor in July of that year. I was struggling with adjusting to work and saw a psychiatrist and counselor at the time. The psychiatrist was adjusting my medications throughout and I would have to take clonazepam 0.5mg at the beginning of my shift to help me cope.

    At the end of December 2009 I suffered a nervous breakdown and have not worked since. I was out on temporary disability for six months and am now on unemployment. Last year was very hard for both my wife and I. We hope that 2011 will be a better year and I can see that happening with your help.

    I want to get back in nursing but I am trying to do everything in my power not to go back to a med/surg floor for it does not fit my strengths or personality. So I looked at every type of nursing out there before I gave up on the profession for good and saw that perioperative nursing would be a good fit for me. I have over a year and a half of experience with med/surg nursing for I also worked on a med/surg floor as a nursing assistant for a year. I saw enough to know that it is not the type of nursing that fits me. I can give many reasons why med/surg is not a good fit but will spare you in interest of your valuable time.

    I think perioperative nursing would be a good fit for the reasons of I love working on a team, am very detail oriented, like to see tasks carried to completion, the environment allows you to give more attention to your patient, etc. I do not mind the stress of an emergency situation for I worked in the ER as a tech for a year before I became a RN.

    After I left my previous position due to my nervous breakdown I tried applying for various RN OR staff positions but never heard anything back. I was blessed to get an interview for a OR RN staff position that included training back in July 2010 but did not get it due to lack of experience. It seems that all employers that have open RN OR positions are only looking for candidates with experience. I seriously considered going back to a med/surg position as a RN to get to the position of RN OR but honestly do not think I have it in me.

    Instead of going back to work as a med/surg RN I applied to a program (it looks promising that I will get in but I will find out for sure in about a month) to get trained as a surgical technologist. I thought what better way to learn a profession then from the ground up. I am running into problems for school starts in September 2011 and I need a job to get me through until the program is over.

    I am trying to stay in healthcare and applied for unlicensed assistive personnel (UAP) positions such as perioperative associate to give me experience and broaden my network. I know this is a gray area and since I am licensed as a RN I should not work below my license, but I have heard that some places let you. I have contacted my state board of nursing for clarity on this issue and am awaiting their response.

    So it comes down to trying to break into the perioperative field in a way that I can handle. As you can see I am willing to make sacrifices to get to a career that I have researched and think would be a good fit for me. I do not like being out of work and want so much to start to help people again in a way that my strengths will be most beneficial to them. Will you now please help both my wife and I in any way you can so we can get this gorilla off our backs.

    Sorry this was so long and thank you for reading. If it helps you I am from Northern NJ. Any questions you may have for me feel free to send them my way and I will do my best to answer them as quickly as I can.

    Many blessings to those who give their time to help those who need it.

    P.S. I have reached out for help from others and they either do not respond or worse yet say they will help and never follow through. I will pray that the people on this site are different.
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  3. 17 Comments so far...

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    Hi I am from Canada, so it is a bit different here. But, it sounds that you are doing the right things. If you cannot move for some type of internship program or job elsewhere, then the surgical-technologist route sounds to me, like it would be a good asset to you. Something you can use when you find that OR RN position.
    It may be beneficial to get a casual RN job while you are in school though, working part-time or casual, is alot less stressful then full time work especially in an area you might not like that much, and current RN experience with good references would help support your resume. (Not saying that is has to be med-surg either.)
    Do they offer RN OR training programs through community colleges in your area? If they do, this maybe a more direct route.
    Just remember either way, the learning curve for OR is tough & can be very stressful, the environment can also be intense & hostile at times so you need to be prepared for this. Take care of yourself first, this is your #1 priority, you are your own advocate in nursing, and you need to be in balance to be an effective care provider to others. Do not let yourself get to the burnout point. (From experience, you & your family are probably familiar with the warning signs, so be aware.) I don't know how to help, other then offer support to you. You sound like you are actively trying. I believe that perseverance does pay off eventually, so keep it up. Good luck.
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    I am not an RN yet...but I think that when I do become one I want to be in the OR and like you I have thought about becoming a Surg Tech to gain OR experience and so I can learn to scrub which really gets me excited and interest me!! I personally think its a good decision but would also love to hear what the experienced OR nurses on here think about it!
    To Help and Learn likes this.
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    Thank you ruralgirl08 for being the first to post a reply. A neighbor from the north I see. Moving is not an option for me but I did get my NY nursing license on top of my NJ nursing license to increase the opportunities that are available to me.

    In my searches for employment I come across very little casual RN positions. I agree with you that if I got a job as a casual RN it would be good for references and help support the resume. From my experiences since I am still considered a new graduate those positions that are for part-time are open only for experienced RNs.

    I have searched for RN OR training programs and it seems they were popular about three years ago but are no longer available in my area. I saw through my searches that Canada had some programs given through their community colleges. There are some RN OR training programs still offered in California, Florida, Arizona, Texas, but none that I have found yet that are close by the Northern NJ area.

    Thanks for the heads up about the learning curve for the OR and what type of environment to be prepared for. I am aware that there is a lot of strong personalities in the OR and you need to be assertive and not take things personally. I have been told that with all that is going on in the OR you need to keep in mind what the main focus is which is the patient.

    I am doing my best to take care of myself. Thanks for your concern. I do not ever want to find myself in the position I was in back in December of 2009, so this is why I am taking well thought out steps to a career that I think would be a good fit.

    You said "I don't know how to help, other then offer support to you" well, let me tell you something, your support is a lot of help and both my wife and I appreciate it. I see that you are a OR hopeful so I wish you the best in making that a reality. Let me know if you want me to give you the info I found on the schools in Canada offering certificates in Perioperative Nursing. Good luck to you as well.
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    Thank you CNM2B201? for posting a reply. Good luck to you on obtaining your RN and getting into the OR if you think this is the speciality you want to get into. You are already making smart decisions by joining this site.

    You are right with one benefit of going through a surgical technologist program is learning how to scrub. After that when you get a RN position you can focus more on learning the circulator role. I hope you do not find yourself in this situation and can get into a RN OR position that offers a good training program. I am with you by wanting to hear what the experienced OR nurses think about it. I hope that my situation is a help to you
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    I work in the OR and would love to be able to take the scrub tech classes. I think it could only help if you truly want to work in the OR. While doing clinicals you would meet the people you need to know to get an OR position as an RN. Most OR love a nurse that can scrub...so it may be taking the long way around but it sounds like a good plan to me.
    To Help and Learn likes this.
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    Thank you SandraCVRN for your supportive words and replying to my original post. Best of luck to you in your nursing career.
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    OP, first of all, let me take this opportunity to say how much I admire you for posting such a heartwrenching experience. It is never easy to share something as personal and as difficult as what you have experienced. Unfortunately, there are still unfair judgments that are made in our society that do not recognize the importance of mental health in our profession. My hope is that you have recovered and that you are putting on your suit of armor once again!

    Secondly, I wonder if there are not OR internships near you? Most university hospitals have new grad internships where you will receive on the job, intensive training for the OR. These programs are GOLDEN and teach you far more than you can imagine. If you find that doing a simple "look-see" in the hospital website does not garner you any results, I would encourage you to call the nurse recruitment office and ask specifically for a nurse residency program for the OR. You would be surprised at how many there really are.

    Although I think that your back up plan sounds reasonable, I fear that having school and a job might be too much for you to shoulder right now. See if you can get somewhere by finding a nurse resident program. If there are not any in your area, ask the nurse recruiter his/her opinion on how to get your foot in the door. They have lots of information and most of the time they are willing to help you.

    I hope that you are healing and I am glad to see that you are actively trying to get back on the bicycle. I wish only the best for you, friend.
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    Quote from To Help and Learn

    I have searched for RN OR training programs and it seems they were popular about three years ago but are no longer available in my area. I saw through my searches that Canada had some programs given through their community colleges. There are some RN OR training programs still offered in California, Florida, Arizona, Texas, but none that I have found yet that are close by the Northern NJ area.
    Check with the Saint Barnabas system, I know they used to offer training for the OR, as in a full time paid orientation/training provided you signed a contract to stay a certain number of yrs after completing the orientation. You probably won't find the info online, would do best to try and contact the perioperative educators in the individual facilities. Also consider joining AORN (www.aorn.org) so you can network within the local chapter by you...sometimes a contact there can tell you who to call/send an email to/etc.
    To Help and Learn likes this.
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    Thank you canesdukegirl for replying to my post and saying that you admire me for posting my experience. You were right by saying that it was not easy for me to share my experience, but by you helping me out I hope this post also serves as help to those who will read it now and in the future who find themselves in a situation similar to mine.

    Referring to your comment “Unfortunately, there are still unfair judgments that are made in our society that do not recognize the importance of mental health in our profession” this is a fine line I must walk when applying for employment. I think that I cannot be totally truthful when I am asked by an interviewer why I left my last position. Can you imagine what my chances would be of getting the job if I answered that I left my last position because I had a nervous breakdown? I am angered that I cannot disclose this fact because I think there is still a stigma attached to mental illness and this is why I am trying to be as anonymous as I can with this post. The only employer I can disclose my mental illness with would be my former because they are all ready aware of the situation. I am trying to get something going with my contacts there but nothing as of yet has materialized.

    I have battled mental illness in the past and come out victorious and expect to be victorious once again thanks to all that are helping me including you. I believe that one day the public will be more accepting of mental illness and the stigma that it carries will slowly disappear. Until that day comes I need to be careful how I deal with it in the public. On a positive note this experience has strengthened me, my Faith, and my relationship with my wife.

    The one interview I did get was for a OR internship but was told there were many candidates that applied and unfortunately I was not chosen for the position. I tried to contact the Nurse Manager for the OR whom I interviewed with several times for advice about starting a career in the perioperative field but never heard back from her.

    Awhile back I applied to NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases Staff Registered Nurse - OR Trainee program. After applying I wrote and called them but never heard back. I also applied to University Medical Center at Princeton’s RN OR Training program. I followed up with them too after applying but never heard back. I guess what I am getting at is there are some OR internships out there but without experience or contacts I am finding it very hard to even get a toe in the door.

    I appreciate your concern when you say “I fear that having school and a job might be too much for you to shoulder right now” but think if I had to go with my back up plan I could handle it. I would do this by drawing on the strength of knowing I made it through four years of nursing school while holding down a part-time job throughout and now I am in a better place then I was at the end of December 2009.

    Ideally I would rather not have to go back to school and rather find a nurse resident program. I will keep trying to reach out to nurse recruiters and others for their opinion on how to get my foot in the door. I will not be discouraged if I do not hear back from them and continue with my pursuit to get on the right path to a rewarding career in perioperative nursing.

    Your words have helped me to heal a little more and I also wish only the best for you, friend.
    Last edit by To Help and Learn on Mar 8, '11


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