New Grad OR Nurse Feeling Alone and Unsupported

  1. Hey Allnurse Family!

    So I'm a new grad working in the OR as a circulator nurse. I was initially excited but now I'm feeling of depressed. OR nursing is very different from floor nursing. The skills a circulator nurse utilizes is very specialized. But I'm ok with that I feel like the role of a circulator nurse suits my personality.

    The problem I'm having is with the orientation. On my first day on the unit I wasn't even given a tour so I have no idea how to find things. I have identified some areas on my own but I still feel like I'm completely lost. So far I have only been observing and so for the past 3 day I've been assigned to a nurse. The nurse I was given on day 1 and 2 was nice but not very good at explaining things to someone that's new. I tried to ask as much question's as I could think of but I know very little about the area. Once I ran out of questions I was pretty much just in the OR doing nothing. I watched what the other staff was doing and tried to help as much as I could but ultimately I felt like I was receiving little guidance. On my third day, I was assigned a nurse that barely spoke to me at all. She pretty much explained nothing unless I asked a question.

    This situation is very frustrating for me because it's my first job as new RN and I want to do well. Secondly, I moved out-of-state for this job. I haven't been assigned a preceptor as yet but I'm hoping things will improve.

    So should I talk with the educator or someone? I really just don't know what to do.
    I feel like I need to be more assertive and speak up about my needs. But I'm just not sure how to go about it.

    Also when I was in the OR observing a surgery one of the team members asked me to get something and spoke to me like I should now where the item was. I did not like that. I'm new and I did not think it's fair.

    I've notice that the anesthesia providers and surgeons treat there subordinates like colleagues. They are patient and supportive. I feel like most experienced nurses I have encounter don't treat new grads like colleagues at all.

    ANY ADVICE OR THOUGHTS IS APPRECIATED!!

    Thank you

    BTW I bought surg tech books and other books about learning the OR environment and procedures. Any ideas on a good book would also be appreciated.
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  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   surenot442
    I too was a new grad in the OR, I have now been doing it for 1.5 years. No doubt the OR has a steep learning curve, don't be too hard on yourself right out of the gate. Give it some time and absorb just being in this new environment. It sometimes takes time for the other nurses to "accept" a new nurse which can be frustrating on its own, but again give it some time. Ask some of the "older" nurses if there are books available to borrow. Alexander's Care of the Patient in Surgery was a really helpful book for me at the start. Ask your manager what resources they have available for you and if you will be taking part in Peri-Op 101 course.
  4. by   nocturnallife
    Thanks for the advice. I'm trying not to worry so much. But there is just so much to learn lol. All the supplies, instruments, equipment and charting. I just don't know how I'm going to do it. I met a nurse today that was very good at explaining things. If they assign her as my preceptor I think I would learn a lot. My educator allowed me to borrow the Alexander's Care of the Patient in Surgery. So far it has been helpful.
  5. by   amiss5572
    I find the or staff to be very territorial. There was on one anesthesia provider that I felt "comfortable" with. It was like none of them trusted me or thought I didn't know what I was doing. And I didn't and still have only a little clue. Haha. But after 8 months I feel so much better. Just give it time
  6. by   countrygirl1234
    Any update on how the OR is going? Are you enjoying it any better? I've been doing bedside nursing for 4 years and want out so I thought the OR would be a good change. I really think I would enjoy it; however, I am nervous that I may not be tough enough for it.
  7. by   ggoodman
    There is no tough enough. to the op Hang in there and try not to get down on yourself. Thick skin is must. and untill you've been at it a while.... you dont know what your doing. people are territorial because if something happens it's their butt not yours. you have to give it at least six months before you decide to bail.
  8. by   Yellow Scrubs
    Yes, I agree that being an OR Circulating Nurse requires a different skill set from floor nursing, many of which are not taught in Nursing School clinicals. But have faith in yourself - to pass Nursing School and the NCLEX you had to learn time management, multi tasking, attention to detail, and having a mind open to learning. I am new to the OR as well - this is my first job right out of nursing school. I've been a circulator for a year, so I still have a lot to learn. My advice is to carry a notebook and take notes, by specialty and surgeon if you need to. I did that, and I have referred to it many times. This was an invaluable tool. Also you can ask your preceptor at the beginning of the shift to explain things to you as he/she does them so you can catch on. Or just speak up: What does that machine do? How do you hook it up? What instruments do we need for this case? Where do I find them? If you have any down time, you can walk around your OR and take notes of where things are kept. Give yourself a chance. Take care.
  9. by   Jessy_RN
    I've worked in many areas of nursing and the OR is extremely unique. The strongest personalities reside there. Nursing school doesn't prepare you for this field in the slightest way. It takes at least one year to feel somewhat comfortable so you must give it time. I'm not condoning or dismissing your concerns but depending on the case or specialty, there isn't a lot of talking going on from the circulator because they have one ear on the field at all times. They have one eye on the field and the other on paperwork/next case etc. The OR is like a dance and there is a time and place to ask a ton of questions and there is a time and place that it's not possible. When I precept, I ask for a certain order of things that need to happen. We do a lot of talking when were opening and setting up for the case, when we get to a 'comfortable' level in the case and after the case. It helps to have repetitive cases to build on and same surgeons until we take it up a notch and move on to the crazier stuff. The circulator is always watching, planning, anticipating and making sure everything runs smoothly. It's one of those places where you just can't be talking the whole time educating your preceptee. My mind is always going but I am listening like a hawk to the field, taking care of my team, organizing, getting ready for specimens, counts, updating family, etc.
  10. by   Bnw684
    I've recently graduated and took a position as a circulator and I couldn't agree more with this post. I've been working for 8 weeks now and I'm considering switching areas because I hate my job. I feel like my nursing degree is a waste for this position because I feel like I open supplies pick up and position the patient chart and clean. Turn over times are a focus at our hospital and I don't think I'm cut out for feeling like everyone's *****
    Last edit by dianah on Aug 21 : Reason: Terms of Service
  11. by   nocturnallife
    Well said Lol. Unfortunately, I feel like that also.
  12. by   amiss5572
    Thank you for all the kind words and support. It's weird to come back now and read what I went through. It's been close to a year and I find myself in a similar situation now! Lol. So I'll give you an update..

    I started in a very small or. 3 rooms and one endo. I feel like it took me a good 6 to 7 months to finally start feeling comfortable. I downloaded an app and put all my own notes on every doctor. Then we started slowing way down and I was getting called off 3 days a pay period plus getting sent home early. I can't pay my student loans with that! They also hired a new nurse so I know I'd be put on the back burner, not getting in cases and cleaning. If you're a new nurse do not go to a small hospital, unless you plan to stay ther.

    So I left and started in a hospital with 10 ORs and a separate endo. Much bigger. Come to find out they are severely understaffed. They have just as many nurses as I did at my first job...but, 10 times busier. They also do things that shouldn't be aloud. Nurses will chart on things that the doctors or nurses won't do. So I've had 9 months experience in a very small hospital and they are already trying to put me in cases by myself with doctors I don't know, equipment ivr never used and a facility I've never even been given a tour of (and I've asked). I've only been there a week! Lol.

    I think nursing is just crazy now. Like what is wrong with hospitals these days? It's a person's life and I shouldn't be put in these situations. Then it looks bad if I keep leaving my job and finding other work. So I'm not sure what I'll do. As an or nurse you don't have a lot of people around. You could get called in and be by yourself. It's just a bit scary.
    Last edit by amiss5572 on Aug 19
  13. by   Pianoo
    I know this was posted in may but i am in the SAME. EXACT position. I actually thought this was my post because i couldn't remember my username!
    Everything from no support to meaningless work to even noticing how the anaes staff is vs scrub scout nurses interact

    We have 5 theatres and i havent learned anything for 3 months now. Im so frustrated at the uncaring NUM and no support.
    Im being shoved in PACU 2 because of low activity....
  14. by   nocturnallife
    Quote from amiss5572
    Thank you for all the kind words and support. It's weird to come back now and read what I went through. It's been close to a year and I find myself in a similar situation now! Lol. So I'll give you an update..

    I started in a very small or. 3 rooms and one endo. I feel like it took me a good 6 to 7 months to finally start feeling comfortable. I downloaded an app and put all my own notes on every doctor. Then we started slowing way down and I was getting called off 3 days a pay period plus getting sent home early. I can't pay my student loans with that! They also hired a new nurse so I know I'd be put on the back burner, not getting in cases and cleaning. If you're a new nurse do not go to a small hospital, unless you plan to stay ther.

    So I left and started in a hospital with 10 ORs and a separate endo. Much bigger. Come to find out they are severely understaffed. They have just as many nurses as I did at my first job...but, 10 times busier. They also do things that shouldn't be aloud. Nurses will chart on things that the doctors or nurses won't do. So I've had 9 months experience in a very small hospital and they are already trying to put me in cases by myself with doctors I don't know, equipment ivr never used and a facility I've never even been given a tour of (and I've asked). I've only been there a week! Lol.

    I think nursing is just crazy now. Like what is wrong with hospitals these days? It's a person's life and I shouldn't be put in these situations. Then it looks bad if I keep leaving my job and finding other work. So I'm not sure what I'll do. As an or nurse you don't have a lot of people around. You could get called in and be by yourself. It's just a bit scary.

    That is the exact situation I'm in as a new grad rn with no experience. I'm expected to circulate in 7 different specialities on my own by 6 months. The facility is big. I also will be in surgeries with docs I'm not familiar with and equipment I've never operated. I will be expected to figure it out. I'm certain the surgeons are going to get impatient and yell at me. I'm considering switching to cvor or maybe Opthamalogy. Not because I dont want to learn the other services but because I feel the training is inadequate.
    Last edit by nocturnallife on Sep 20 : Reason: Typo

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