I was where you are at the end of April this year FRESH out of nursing school. I applied for Periop 101 as a new grad with zero experience. 7 members of a panel. 4 OR nurses, my future OR nurse manager, the Periop 101 nurse educator, and HR rep. I was asked a set of 12 behavioral questions. The interview lasted less than half an hour with each person asking a question and them writing down my answer.
First and foremost. BE ASSERTIVE. If there are 12 people in that room you make sure you shake every one of their hands and look them in the eyes. The OR does not want a shrinking violet that can’t think or speak up for their patients when they cannot, so most definitely show them that you are NOT in any way passive or intimidated by anyone or anything because that is the kind of person they want. They are looking for someone who is knowledgeable and confident that they can handle their patients as well as personalities of surgeons.
Second, STUDY your interview technique. I sat in front of my mirror for an entire week practicing both behavioral and clinical scenario questions. Since I have zero nursing experience outside of clinical I was not given a clinical scenario, but I was still very prepared to answer if the situation came to that. KNOW THE ROLE OF CIRCULATING AND SCRUB NURSE. What makes them different? Know what is the primary focus of the surgeon: THE PROCEDURE. He is not focused on the patient in the same sense you are, so when you do suspect something is wrong, all the more reason you need to ADVOCATE and direct their attention.
As a circulating nurse, which is what you will primarily be trained as in the periop 101 course, it is your responsibility to keep your patient SAFE and ADVOCATE for them through the entire surgical process: preop, intraop, and postop. There will be RNs for preop and PACU but you are the last person that patient sees before they are inducted into anesthesia, so then it is up to you to be their senses and make absolutely sure their surgical experience goes as smoothly and flawless as humanly possible.
Keywords to emphasize: You take pride in being a patient’s ADVOCATE. You feel it is your duty as a nurse to keep your patient’s SAFE no matter where you work in the field of nursing. YOU WANT TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE A SAFE AND EFFECTIVE SURGICAL NURSE. (Yes, this was my main goal when asked, and it is the truth, the best way I knew how to put it into words.) Some nurses may blurt out NP or CRNA etc. etc. but they need to know you are on the same page with them, and that is to become competent and effective in your nursing role. Lastly, recognize to them that you know that the periop101 program is an EXPENSIVE INVESTMENT IN AN EMPLOYEE. I capitalize this because they are taking an educated risk on you. They are hiring you from a resume and a short interview on the basis that you will put 120% into learning and perfecting your craft, show them that you know this and you are serious about OR nursing. And finally, tell them all the reasons WHY YOU WANT TO BE IN THE OPERATING ROOM (If they don’t beat you to the punch and ask you this first). For me, it was seeing a total hip arthroplasty, total knee arthroplasty, breast biopsy, and the coolest: an emergency stent placed after a severe brain aneurysm.
I have found helpful since having my formal offer of this position is purchasing two books:
Alexander’s Care of the Patient in Surgery – This is considered the Holy Bible for surgical nursing
Operating room Technique by Berry & Kohen – The more you understand basic surgical procedures the better.
When they conclude the interview and they say the phrase “Do you have any questions for me?” Ask them outright: What is the MOST IDEAL CANDIDATE you are looking for in this position? What are your GOALS for the OR at this current time? (Increasing surgical volume? Get a feel for where they are trying to go in the future.) Ask any questions you may have about periop at this time also, chances are they will know the answer. For me it was when will I know what specialty I will be primarily circulating in because I would like to circulate or scrub for open heart cases one day.
When the entire interview is finished and they are wrapping everything up just state: I appreciate all of you taking the time to meet with me this morning and I would like to reiterate my passion for this field of nursing and if you choose me for this position I won’t let you down.
DON’T FORGET TO SEND A THANK YOU NOTE WHEN IT IS OVER. MANY people blow this off, but trust me, I send one every time and have never been turned down for a job IN MY ENTIRE CAREER. People send a lot of man hours and time investing into interviewing candidates, a little extra appreciation can really go a long way. Some people also use this as a REDEMPTION LETTER, if you screw up in the interview and don’t cover everything, you can write a few sentences here within the thank you letter and show you are still very serious about the position. If you need more info on the outline of this just google: redemption letter. They are also aware you are nervous and some people suck at interviewing in front of panels, so don’t beat yourself up over it.
This is a lot of information I know, but I did all of this and then some and most of it is based on my own perspective, so take of it what you will. For me, I was the president of the honor society at my school, I had a great GPA, and I worked at the hospital for a few years where I am now starting this program at the end of June. So, this is not an easy job to do, and I took it with the full awareness of that but it was my DREAM JOB so I gave the interview my heart and soul and then some, and I realize it is just the tip of the iceberg. Do as much research and prepare yourself for what is to come if you do get an offer. And walk out of your interview with the feeling that you did your absolute best. Good Luck and I hope you get what you want!