New OR Nurse and feeling overwhelmed... - page 2

by astrn

9,452 Views | 23 Comments

I am a nurse with 6 years of peds well baby experience and have recently been hired into the OR as a circulator. I have no hospital experience before this and have only worked in an office setting. I have good days and bad days... Read More


  1. 0
    I have experienced the same as well but now I can say that I have gained confidence in all that I do...just like what they have said be prepared when going to work and concentrate on people who are nice to you. ..
  2. 0
    When you tie her up, if your gowns has velcro near the neck, take a lil bit of her hair net and stick it to the velcro. I had a tech that was always making me run for stuff than giggle about it. Her hat got stuck to her velcro and when that happens you can't move your head very well, so she asked me to fix it for her..."oh so you need me to do something for you huh, you gonna keep being a twerp?" And now it's a joke between us and I tell her that if she doesnt settle down I'm gonna stick her hat to her velcro.

    Unfortunately as many others have said the OR is a very difficult place to work and also to get into the group. But once you do, it all is ok. The doc just has to feel like he is God, just play his game, study up on the cases you'll be doing with him, and maybe even ask him questions, even if you know the answers. It makes them feel good. You may find 9 months down the road when you've settled in that tech may tell you she never had a problem with you and thought very highly of you.

    I would however address that behavior of hazing to your manager or an educator (not preceptor). It is something many managers are aware of and most facilities are trying to tackle, but it is a huge problem.

    Good Luck, it's a great career if you've got the skin for it.
  3. 0
    I started in OR boot camp back in Feb 2012 but came as a seasoned nurse with a background in L+D, medsurg and homecare. Everyone warned me that you had to have thick skin for the OR and treat the surgeons like they walk on water. I figured I would just get accustomed to the culture and with 10 years of exp under my belt I had high hopes for myself. Let's just say I cry at least 2-3 times per week (after work of course) and have to give myself a pep talk most days before I will even get out of the car. Each day I try to find witty comebacks, stand up for myself, try to remain non-emotional, get things done as fast and efficiently as possible and am prepared to be thrown under the bus by any team member I am working with. This is the norm and each day is like entering the battleground anew. I find it so unfortunate that this is my focus rather than giving excellent patient care and becoming an expert in my new setting.

    I hope things improve for you. After going on a year in the OR, I have accepted that my environment will likely not change. I am stuck in a contract but will likely move on after I fulfill my time.
  4. 0
    Thank you again for everyones advice and sharing personal experience. It seems like luck of the draw where you work if people have a good experience or not. It is too bad that others in the surgery setting don't become a team. It would seem to me that the more involved people were about teaching new hires the ropes instead of an enormous amount of time teasing and harassing things would get off to a quicker start. I find myself not trusting anyone and a few of the girls at work told me on friday I just need to learn to be a b*tch like them. I have my sisters wedding in the summer and they already told me it will be very hard for me to take anytime off work. Others who have more seniority always take July vacation so that leaves nothing for anyone else. What a crappy place to work.
  5. 0
    I went to work in the OR straight out of nursing school and I agree with all of the others in saying that it does seem to be just the culture of the OR. I cried often the first few months and wondered if I was in the right place.( The only area of nursing I was ever interested in going to was surgery). A seasoned OR nurse told me to give it at least a year. I promise if you hang in there it will get better and in time you will feel confident and when you start giving it back to the ones giving you a hard time they will know to its time to move on to the next new person. I worked in that same OR for 14 years before leaving nursing to be a full time stay at home mom. Now 10 years later I am looking forward to taking a refresher course and going back. Although I am thinking of other areas of nursing this time around not because I didn't like the OR but want to experience another area maybe med-surg and gain some skills. Good Luck to you and hang in there!
  6. 0
    This type of behavior is why the saying is that "nurses eat their young." It INFURIATES me that this is seen as a normal part of the OR culture. You shouldn't need a thick skin to come to work each day. Go to the manager or team leader or who ever is next on the ladder. If that person blows you off, go up the chain. If I read correctly, you have to work with the same tech and nurse and surgeon every day?
    No wonder you're miserable. You're being bullied, pure and simple. They think that they are big for belittling you, but authentic humans don't operate that way. Is there an employee assistance program there? They maybe can help you in strategies for dealing with difficult people. Just PLEASE don't let them make you think you have to be a ***** to get along.
    Last edit by dianah on Jan 18, '13 : Reason: Terms of Service
  7. 0
    Hi everyone. I am new to this site and have enjoyed reading a lot of the discussion on joining the OR nursing team. I too have recently made the move into the operating room after working 16 years as a registered nurse in an acute care setting. I was truly looking forward to the change in environment and the change of scheduling, switching from 12 hour shifts to 8 hr shifts.
    But I too have to admit that the change has been overwhelming to say the least. I too like a previous writer have to continually give myself pep talks before and during each shift, and I have also cried many tears. Somedays my anxiety level is so high that I am unable to eat. To say that you need a thick skin to work in the OR is an understatement. I am naturally a people pleaser which I think helped me to be a good bedside nurse. This doesn't seem to be a favourable asset for inside the OR. My job is actually mainly PACU which I really enjoy because it is closer to bedside nursing. But I have to work a 2week rotation inside the OR every 6weeks or so which I do not enjoy. This makes it even more difficult to remember the techniques and procedures, plus the fact that every surgeon has his or her own way of doing things. I feel so torn all the time. My heart wants me to go back to my bedside nursing, but my husband wants me to stay with the 8 hr shifts because it is more " normal " for our family. I keep wondering if I will EVER feel like I belong there. I can't imagine having to continually feel like this for another 16+ years until I can retire. I guess I'll have to keep praying everyday for the strength and guidance to get through my shift without losing who I am completely. Thanks for listening and I wish you all the best in whatever area you move into.
  8. 1
    I am a new grad who landed an OR position in a Level 1 trauma teaching hospital with 20+ ORs running at any given time.

    I too am overwhelmed and having trouble adjusting to the attitudes I encounter from older, more seasoned members of my nursing "team." Some are downright vicious and there is, quite honestly, no reason for it. Period.
    Yes, to be an OR nurse you need to have a "thick skin," but having a thick skin doesn't mean allowing yourself to be made to feel stupid, worthless, and inferior. EVERYONE was new to the OR at some point.

    Nursing school does not prepare you to be an OR nurse so it is a totally unique perspective of nursing. It is actually more of a trade. The more experienced nurses don't realize that the training programs for new OR nurses now is quite different from how they learned.

    Peri-op nurses used to do everything from checking in patients to set-up of instruments to scrubbing AND circulating to patient recovery. They did the same procedures over and over and over until it became second nature.

    Hospitals today don't do 5 appendectomies back to back, or cholies, etc. In the same OR in one day I will circulate on a lap chole, followed by a mastectomy, then an adult circumcision, and finish with an irrigation & debridment. All much different types of procedures but you are expected to know how each set up is unique. It is unreasonable.

    I can go through a general surgery rotation for 3 weeks and not see the same procedure more than 1-2 times. Every case is much different. I spend most of my day just figuring out where the supplies I need are, because they are scatted about. PLUS, I don't know exactly what I am looking for even looks like half the time!

    Because I work in a Level 1 trauma hospital that also prides itself on being a "teaching" hospital, you basically get whomever they decide to stick you with for the day. Yes, it teaches you flexibility, but I am really tired of hearing from each nurse I am assigned to "You'll develop your own way of doing things eventually, but today you're in my room so you need to do it my way" even if I am the one charting under my license #.

    I have a wonderful educator who tells me "I am showing you one way to do something, but there are many others. Find the way that works best for you and do it the same way each time." MUCH DIFFERENT way of teaching!

    The problem with a teaching hospital is that management expects EVERYONE at any given time to teach a newbie. Some people don't WANT to teach. Others don't know HOW to teach. I believe preceptors should be volunteers who are trained and I know many hospitals do just that.

    My other educator isn't the best teacher, but she always tells us how ****** the more seasoned nurses can be in the OR and to advocate for ourselves. If someone is speaking to us in a way that is not acceptable, we should come and tell her. Easier said than done!

    The bottom line is (according to me), is yes, you need to put in your time, but you need to find a voice and not let yourself be abused. If you would not let yourself be treated in a certain way by your parent or spouse, you should not tolerate it from a co-worker, even one with more seniorty. One day they will want you to work a holiday for them, or switch a weekend with them at the last minute. Payback is a *****.
    Last edit by dianah on Jan 21, '13 : Reason: formatting
    KyleRoth likes this.
  9. 0
    Quote from sugarik13
    The more experienced nurses don't realize that the training programs for new OR nurses now is quite different from how they learned. Peri-op nurses used to do everything from checking in patients to set-up of instruments to scrubbing AND circulating to patient recovery. They did the same procedures over and over and over until it became second nature.
    .Actually, the way it used to be, and in some ORs it remains common practice: See one, do one, teach one. That's it. That's all the training you get. Not sayin', just sayin.
    Last edit by CheesePotato on Jan 20, '13 : Reason: Smartphone formatting makes my ulcer have the rage.
  10. 3
    Quote from CheesePotato
    .See one, do one, teach one.
    Heard that many times. It's a cop-out from someone who either doesn't know how to teach, or is a lousy teacher. I have found, BY FAR, the best nurses to learn from (and the ones with the best practice) are the true old-school peri-op nurses who learned by doing the same procedures over and over again. Hands down. They still are out there. I know because I worked with them while a nursing student on a medsurg peri-op rotation in a Level 1 trauma center. They were ALWAYS willing to stop, help, and explain.

    And after all, in an area like the OR, where having good technique is essential for ensuring positive patient outcomes, isn't "see one, do one, teach one" a rather spiteful and irresponsible way to initiate the new nurses to your "team" regardless of whether it was how you were trained or not? Having vindictive nurses as teachers, forcing their newbies to go on scavenger hunts and wild goose chases for supplies they don't yet know, not answering their questions, all while prolonging the amount of time the patient is being left under anesthesia seems to go against the nursing ethic of non-maleficence.
    fromtheseaRN, elprup, and citylights89 like this.


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