new grad, OR

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    Hi everyone,

    I am a new grad currently working in the clinic. I like the primary care focus of this, but I am also amazed by what medicine can accomplish through surgery. I went into nursing because I want to work in public health but I also wanted to work in the OR. I recognize that these two specialties can merge together.

    The question is, how do operating room nurses get their start? Do I need to go through a special training program?
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  3. 9 Comments so far...

  4. 0
    I didn't go through a special training program. In school, I had a few opportunities to observe in ORs, and knew that I was interested. Then in our last semester, we did a leadership clinical and we got to request what type of area we wanted, so I requested the O.R. Luckily I got it and did 2 months in an O.R. shadowing the assistant director and also observing in the O.R. (couldn't do much hands-on, since it is so specialized). I had to do a project for my class that involved reading some things in the AORN manual so I learned some surgery concepts from that. When I applied for jobs, I applied to this same O.R. and got hired (I passed my boards first, although people had been hired before passing, on the condition that they'd pass it in 90 days or something).

    Then you get an orientation - it should be 6 to 9 months, it is more like a preceptorship.

    While it is good to have nursing experience, it can be done without it. My career experience is in customer service for about 20 years, so I had "customer care" skills and was used to dealing with difficult people (who, in the O.R. will be surgeons, mostly) and added my nursing knowledge to that.

    Good luck!

    (I should add that I did this despite 95% of people telling me it's hard to get into the O.R. and I'd need 2 to 5 years of nursing experience first).
  5. 0
    Hi Lam2010,

    Thank you for your insight! Do all OR nurses combine scrub and circulating duties?

    A friend, also a nurse, straight up told me to not do OR nursing because angry surgeons can throw instruments. This frightened me a bit... but I have also met a lot of calm surgeons during my clinical placements while shadowing in the OR.

    Thanks again for your words of encouragement.
    Last edit by linguine on Nov 22, '10
  6. 1
    Whether OR nurses scrub and circulate depends on the facility. Some facilities utilize surgical techs in the scrub role- they are cheaper. Angry surgeons should not throw instruments. Doing so will get them in trouble, at least where I work. And if an OR supports allowing that practice, I'd be running very fast in the opposite direction.
    GadgetRN71 likes this.
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    If you want to do it, then it is possible. It may require flexibility on your part though. Some OR's may not be willing or have the resources to train a new grad or someone new in general to the OR. You may have to move to a place that has a new grad residency program. But if it's an area you're interested in, it's definitely worth a try.
  8. 1
    Hey Linguine!
    I have been an RN for about a year now and I will start an OR training program in January. I am super excited! I initially applied for the position in May of this year but did not get the job. I did take a position in the rehabilitation unit at the same hospital. In October, I applied again and was accepted. I am positive that being an internal applicant helped tremendously. There is 3 months or so of the AORN Periop 101 course and then 6 months on the floor with a preceptor. It can be done and don't give up. My advice is to find the hospital you really want to work for and apply. Be willing to take a position on another unit if need be, at least you will have your foot in the door. Good luck to you!
    linguine likes this.
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    if you want to work there, just apply for the jobs. I would hire a fresh RN just to fill the slot with someone that was interested and eager to learn. I can almost guarantee that alot of other ORs would too.
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    I work at a large teaching facility and they *prefer* new grads. Don't worry if you didn't have the chance to do any sort of OR rotations in school. The best thing you can do would be to try to get a toe-hold in an OR where you think you'd like to work so that when you apply for a job there, you're not one of a billion faceless applicants. If you happen to know someone who works at that facility and can get you the name of an OR manager there, that's best. Call or e-mail, say you're graduating on such-and-such date and you'd like to know if you could shadow for a day in the OR, "just to see what it's like." It's non-threatening ("Hey, I'm not asking for an interview, I just want some info!") and many facilities routinely do this. Then once you are there, treat it like an interview. Be prepared with questions, be careful and courteous in the room, remember people's names, be friendly. At the end of the day, ask if you can see the manager just for a minute to thank him/her personally. Anything to get yourself remembered in a positive way. If you don't know anyone there, call HR, tell them you're thinking it's possible you might like to work in the OR one day, and could you shadow there? (Don't sound desperate, make it casual.) Just get a foot in, and then like I said, treat it like an interview. Shake hands!

    New grads these days really underestimate the value of networking in finding new jobs. If you aren't able to make a shadow day happen, even just calling HR before filling out an application helps. New apps are always screened through HR first, so if the manager doesn't know you, then HR has to like you in order for the hiring manager to even get your app. Call the general HR phone number, ask for whoever does the hiring for the OR, and be very general with your questions. You don't want to come off like a missile, you just want the opportunity to build a rapport with someone who can get you hired. Be professional, have good questions, make it sound like you're just gathering information but make sure you're leaving a positive and professional impression. It's okay to say that you do want to work in the OR. The key is that whatever you do (phone call, e-mail, shadow, whatever), do it *before* you even fill out an application. At the end of your conversation, you can say, "I loved it here! Do you have any openings?" and when they say yes, you can say, "I'm definitely going to apply. Keep your eyes open!" And they'll remember you when they get the application.

    Before I started in the OR, I thought there must be some magical pathway to get there; there's not, just like anywhere in nursing. It's all in who you know. Even if you don't know anyone, you can change that and make it happen.
  11. 0
    Thank you for all your tips solneeshka

    Do you think it is reasonable to start learning in a small outpatient surgical center first? are the skills used here compared to a large inpatient OR extremely different?
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    Personally, I don't think there's any benefit to that. It's not that it would be bad, but at a smaller outpatient center, the cases are more likely to be shorter, and you will find out soon that much of the work of a case is setting it up and taking it down. Plus, those centers are generally doctor-owned, so they are even more on you about turning cases over than they are in a hospital setting. You also might have more resources for training in a hospital setting. Those are my thoughts! But if a surgery center is your only (or best) option, then go for it. At least it gets you experience.


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