New to the OR, culture challenges

  1. Hi guys!

    I am new to the OR and I would love the input of some fellow OR nurses to help answer some questions I have to determine if I am just not loving the OR, or if it is the particular work environment that I am in that is making me second guess my decision to transition here.

    So I'm a new OR nurse who started in April this year. I have been a nurse for almost 5 years, the past 2 years in the ICU and I just transferred to start working in a Children's Hospital OR. I was super excited for the transition but now that I am there, I am not so sure anymore.

    Since I started, I have heard people talking about me in the break room (in front of me) and have experienced bullying by more than one nurse in front of the surgical team. The bullying has dissipated a bit since I started as "the new girl from the ICU" but it still doesn't feel like much of my team has my back (mainly from the nurses that have been there for a while). A lot of people in the OR talk about leaving because they are unhappy (the turnover is very high) and people complain constantly about equipment malfunctioning, management, short staffing, slow turn-over times etc. etc.

    So here are my questions:

    1. I realize the OR is a place of multiple personalities and backgrounds working together, but is it normal for staff to gossip about each other constantly?? I am a no-drama kind of person and in my workplace, it is nearly impossible to avoid the gossip (I witness side conversations of whispering at work constantly). If you see this in your OR, how do you deal!?

    2. What keeps you in the OR?

    3. What is/are the biggest challenge(s) you face in your daily work life?

    4. Do you feel that your OR works as a team (especially nursing) and has your back?

    5. Do you feel there is a difference between union vs. non-union work environments ?

    I really want to give OR nursing a chance but sadly I am already planning my exit strategy from this particular place. I am thinking to gain 2 years experience then find another OR to work in. Its sad, because I LOVE working with the kids.

    Thanks in advance for reading all of this!

  2. 9 Comments

  3. by   Argo
    The OR is tough. You wilL either make it to 2 years and be one of us OR you will be back to whhat you knew. Thick skin is the first thing you need in OR....
  4. by   SQueenRN
    You've only been an OR nurse for 4 months! Give it time. The gossip kinda happens everywhere, you can choose to feed in to it or not. I have been an RN for almost 8 years (worked med/surg one year and Surgical PCU for 6) but have been in the OR 13 months now and loooooove it. Couldn't pay me to go back to the floor. I learn sooooo much everyday and it's so interesting. My passion for nursing is back! My job is so badass and I'm super proud of it. There are so many specialties, new procedures, always music, never boring! Just be as positive as you can be and rise above the gossip. Our OR does work like a team, we're family. We have each other's back. Of course there are a few that try to avoid doing any "work" like the plague but majority are hard workers. If you love working with the kids then keep at It! We are blessed to have a job that we love.
  5. by   chocolateistheanswer
    Thank you so much for your kind words!
  6. by   JAYTEEDES
    The OR is one of the most daunting units to work in, as you have already experienced. Be a sponge! Soak up everything you can. Carry a notebook. Prep for your next day's list. Ask questions. ( not during tense/stressful times during surgery).look, see REALLY LOOK AND SEE! Pay attention to everything. You will find that most physicians are eager to teach. Stick to your precetor like glue and follow instruction!! Show interest and never stop asking questions.(Recently retired after 35+ yrs as OR scrub and circulator on 2 continents with TOTALLY different cultures-not bragging, just saying you can do it!) Good luck.������
    Last edit by JAYTEEDES on Aug 27 : Reason: Autocorrect- not what I wanted to say
  7. by   ImAjoy,RN
    Based on what you wrote, it seems like your only complaint of working in this particular OR is the culture, not the job itself. People either love the OR and stay forever, or hate it. The OR can be a tough area. To answer your question, yes there absolutely is a different between union and non union. I have worked in both and its a night and day difference . Now, the non-union ORs aren't necessarily all peaches and cream but there is way more teamwork and support going on then in the union environment! I also hated being in a "toxic" culture full of gossip, bullying and backstabbing. It is possible to find an OR without all that. Keep your head up, have some thick skin and be assertive. Good luck!
  8. by   SurgicalNurse111
    Hi! I am also "new" to the OR, I am at almost a year. To be honest my first several months were miserable and everyday I felt like I made the biggest mistake of my life and it wasn't the work, it was the people. OR staff are rough, set in their ways, and from my experience, not eager to help newbies. I decided to stick it out instead of transferring in hopes that maybe someday the culture will change. I have since changed to weekends and I am 100 times happier, less staff means less A**holes, BUT it also means less help which has really helped me learn quicker. I am still nervous, but since being on weekends I have grown and learned SO much. Ps. I am SOOOO tired of hearing "You need thick skin" no, how about everyone treats everyone with respect.
  9. by   Lou7
    Hello, firstly I love your username. It certainly is the answer! Haha!

    I work in the OR, orthopaedics. I have done a year in orthopaedic trauma and done a few months in hands and feet and now I'm in hip and knee arthroplasty. I can say from my experience that the ******** doesn't get better. I'm also a similar type of person to you. I hate the ********. I've no interest in talking behind others backs. I think when you hear someone bad mouthing someone else it shows a negative side of their character. It is hard to work around people that maybe don't treat you well to begin with. The main thing is to hold your own, know when to stand up for yourself and when to let things go. You don't come to work to. Be spoken to badly. However, there is always some form of disagreement and cold atmosphere sometimes when you work with certain people. Unfortunately we don't all think the same.

    When I started it was a steep learning curve and I was extremely intimidated by the OR. The people I work with are really nice, however there are some people I have had trouble with. I find the best thing is to try and get to know them as best you can, show an interest in getting to know them. Sometimes if you show others kindness and friendliness it rubs off If not keep your head down and eventually I would hope they will see how dedicated to the job and how much you love your job and will respect you. If not, they suck. Lol. But please do not leave your job because of a few good-for-nothing's. This is YOUR job. Don't let them ruin it for you.

    I often have days when I wish I wasn't doing this job but hey we all have bad days. I live the OR because I love learning about anatomy, I love learning the operations, I like organising my table and using different instruments and systems. It suits me. Plus I know I'm looking after my patient by making sure the surgeon is doing well and is supported.

    I find the hardest challenge. Maybe two. One - the surgeons attitude. Not every one but a good amount of them are very abnoxious and arrogant and speak to you like dirt. They loose their manners and when you have a nice conversation with them in the coffee room suddenly they bite your head off for little reason. That is a big challenge. Not beating yourself up for being shouted at. And secondly - the team your working with. You know when you have a good team when everyone is switched on forward thinking and efficient. But then you get the people that are too busy making jokes and messing around that it makes your job stressful.

    That maybe answers number 4. But I generally find, as long as you do your best, keep learning and showing enthusiasm most people will have your back and support you.

    And lastly, I used to work in the wards and comparison, the OR is far better with team working!! I found so many people were lazy on the wards, constant complaining about how the nurse is not an octopus balancing everything at once! The doctors not taking you seriously, the frustration of waiting for referrals and assessments, the huge lack of staff, lack of support etc. I hated the wards. Theatre - albeit hard at times - is the best place!

    Keep at it! I bet your awesome at your job. Don't let anyone put you down. Rise above the small stuff but stick up for yourself when things go too far. You deserve to be happy in your work.

    Good luck with things, hope things get better for you! Sorry for my massive reply. Lol

  10. by   chocolateistheanswer
    You all are so amazing. Thank you so much for all of your kind words. you'll never know how much this all means to me that you took the time to respond to my questions and concerns. I am loving the actual work of the OR... a tangible difference I make in these little kiddos lives everyday . I love it and love you guys for helping me through this newbie stage !!

    Time for some chocolate
  11. by   chocolateistheanswer
    Also, AMEN to the notorious thick skin comment. I couldn't agree more.
    Last edit by chocolateistheanswer on Sep 7 : Reason: forgot one word