I never expected to be in the operating room after graduation. Nurse recruiters constantly told me that the OR does not accept new grads.. well on a usual basis. Well I proved them wrong because I'm now an OR nurse. I wanted to do the traditional med/surg nursing to hone my skills from nursing school. After getting the job in the OR, i fell in love with it. It's a place that not many people get to see in a hospital, for obvious reasons. You'll see things that you never thought you would EVER see. And the technology is constantly evolving.
1 - How to gain more experience in the OR as a nursing student?
During you clinical rotation, DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING BLUE. Do not even go near anything blue. This is the sterile field, full of sterile instruments and what not. Nurses and scrubs watch the field like hawks to make sure sterility is maintained. And yes, they will give you the evil eye or get annoyed if you compromise that. Work closely with the circulator. Ask questions about policies. Offer to help with positioning the patient. Get as involved as you can with the nursing responsibilities.
2 - Will getting a certificate as a surgical assistant will boost the chances?
In my hospital, nurses are required to learn how to circulate and scrub. As expected, the scrubs are excellent in their set-ups and technique. They know where every single one of their instruments are, and can grab them from the table without taking their eye off the surgery. Of course, this is because they've been trained to do this for 2 years. As for nurses, there is some struggle. I myself admit to being not nearly as great as the scrub techs, but I can get by. I can certainly scrub the case, I make take a little longer to put a stapler together or load a suture, but it doesn't mean that I'm not a good scrub person. So no, you don't have to be certified as a surgical assistant. It's usually incorporated into your training.
3 - Is there any test that I can study and take as a new grad to become an OR nurse?
You can get certified in the OR as a CNOR once you have a minimum of 2 years experience. You have to take a course and study for the exam, pass it, and then you become certified. As a new grad, I would suggest subscribing to perioperative nurse journals/magazines. Alexander's Care of the Patient in Surgery is an excellent textbook on perioperative nursing.