OR nurse as a new grad - page 2

I've just finished my first year of nursing. I haven't had my Med-Surg rotation just yet. As far as I know, I will only spend very few hours in OR for my clinical rotation. And, I'm very... Read More

  1. by   LAM2010
    i observed whenever i could in the OR when i was in school. when it came time for leadership clinicals in our last semester, we were allowed to make requests, and i was not embarrassed to put in all caps with many exclamation marks that i wanted my rotation to be in an O.R.! so i got it.

    that O.R. then hired me after i graduated. i didn't get to do anything hands-on in the O.R., but i had a great preceptor that loved having me shadow her, and she was willing to hire me because she got to know me and because i had a strong background in customer service - not even healthcare related. (i worked at the cable company for 10 years on the phone). i still had to interview and convince them that i could do the job...

    personally, i felt i should only apply there after i passed boards. they had hired people before that hadn't passed yet, and if you didn't pass within 90 days of hire you were let go. so i didn't want to give them any doubts - fortunately i was able to take (and pass) boards within about 2 months of graduating.

    skills that you should make sure you practice while in school are the general nursing care skills - transferring, positioning, medication administration, aseptic and sterile technique. one periop residency i wanted to apply for required you have 1 or 2 (I can't remember) years of experience as a nurse tech before applying! now i see why - you have to make sure you don't injure your patient. the asepsis and sterility are to prevent contamination and infection. you can't let that patient fall off the table or get any bedsores or nerve damage, etc. and all this you can practice in clinicals.

    you should know how to check meds (the 5 rights!) and what allergies your patient has and what meds they can't get.

    there isn't a test but there is a textbook you won't get in nursing school - "Care of the Patient in Surgery" by Alexander (I forget the first name). you could probably find it used somewhere. i wish i'd had it in nursing school (i did, actually - my mother in law had it but i just didn't feel like reading one more textbook....).

    an OR orientation for new hires is 6 to 9 months, with a big learning curve. but you still want to show them in as short a time as possible that you are basically competent enough to keep your patient safe (no injuries, no infections). the detailed technical skills will come with time.

    (p.s. i know all nursing students have anxiety about inserting foleys and IVs -- you will get plenty of practice inserting foleys in the O.R.! i never inserted ONE in school. as for IVs - in my OR, i haven't yet inserted an IV, our CRNAs do it. a time or two, my patient needed one and i could have done it to help everyone out, but i didn't - i have lost so much practice with it that i just don't even try anymore - if the pre-op nurses weren't able to insert it, i know i won't be able to).
    Last edit by LAM2010 on Aug 22, '10
  2. by   Mis V
    This is all quite helpful information. Thank you!
  3. by   CaliLvr000
    Do you complete a preceptorship for your last semester of school? I am a senior nursing student and graduating in December, we got to choose where we wanted to go for our preceptorship and I chose the OR! I love love love :heartbeat it and have learned a vast amount of knowledge in just a few months.

    However, the hospital I have clinical at requires ICU/Med-Surg experience before they hire, but I am still trying. I have heard many conflicting opinions on whether or not an OR nurse should come straight from school. But I am still trying! Hang in there, request a preceptorship if your school does so, and you will really learn if the OR is the place for you or not. It really just takes time being in that atmosphere. Good luck!
  4. by   SnowStar4
    I graduated two weeks ago and have an OR position waiting for me when I pass my NCLEX (hopefully soon if I get my darn ATT!). The only reason I was allowed to interview was because I was a nurse tech for 18 months while in school, on an ortho floor at a different hospital. They considered that enough experience to allow me into the OR. So, I would recommend all the experience you can get.
  5. by   MsLeylaBar
    i have 3 questions:
    1 - how to gain more experience in the or as a nursing student?
    my workplace has employed many new grads before in the or, most of them did like a 3 month clinical option on their last year of nursing school. is there anything like that on your nursing program? that would be the best way.

    2 - will getting a certificate as a surgical assistant will boost the chances?
    what would a surgical assistant do? we have surgical technicians or scrub techs, that's usually 1 year of school. is that what you are thinking? if you are in nursing school, don't bother with that.

    3 - is there any test that i can study and take as a new grad to become an or nurse ? the best way is just to find a hospital who hires new grads for the or or accepts internships.
  6. by   JeromeFJ
    How do you folks feel about starting in the OR as a new grad? I saw one post, but I want to hear how people feel about it. Is the OR something that you're trapped into once you do your residency program? Is it possible to leave the OR and go somewhere else if the OR is your only experience?

    Basically im wondering is it more important to get the job that is tough to come by... in a good place... and see how it goes.. stay if you like it, or get out a few years down the road if you want a change... esp if you can stay within the same hosp? or do you think its better to wait and wait and wait for a "staff nurse" position?

    I want to be in the OR, but I'm just wondering if 5 years down the road.. will I still have options? I think having long term options are the most important thing for me..

  7. by   Rose_Queen
    There's always options, they just may not be easy. In my 5 years, I've seen one nurse move to neurosurgical ICU, one move to L&D, then to endoscopy, one went to hospice, one moved to a non-clinical position, and several have moved to med/surg. All seem quite happy with their changes, and none that I know of had any true difficulty, since they were given adequate orientations in their new units.
  8. by   boopette
    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.