Thinking about OR nursing

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    I presently work in a tele/cardiac stepdown unit, having previously worked med-surg. I'm considering a different specialty, haven't really cared for med-surg or stepdown. I think I need something more specialized, more technical, and less people-oriented than what I have been doing. I've considered a variety of roles, and one of them is OR.

    But of course I'm a little hesitant. It'd be a fairly big step from floor nursing, lots of new stuff to learn. Some of the surgeries can be very long, such as transplants. And surgeons have a reputation for being unpleasant...on TV they're always yelling at the RN for a scapel or something.

    But it would involve more tech and less people contact--something that is better for me. I'd be more specialized, and I do better with positions that have a narrow focus. And I know a fellow nurse who really likes being an OR nurse.

    So I wonder what people here thought. OR isn't the only possibility, there are several other specializations I'm considering. But this is the one that would probably be the biggest change and the one that I'm most hesitant about.
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  3. 3 Comments so far...

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    Not entirely sure who these "people" are, but if you have reservations about working intimately with people in general then I don't think the OR is for you. Being able to build relationships, and work as a close-knit team is essential in the OR. You depend on other team members, and if you can't get along with the other people in the team they won't have your back and you could find yourself swimming up-stream (if you know what I mean). On a unit like med-surg or tele you can be a little bit of a loaner and get by, although it's always easier if you can count on the other nurses on the unit to have your back. In the OR, you will sink. You cannot perform in an OR without the cooperation of the rest of the team. The OR is becoming more and more technical but for the most part you may not be able to completely specialize at the exclusion of other services (nor should you want to, it will limit your skill set considerably). In most facilities, even if you specialize in one particular service, you will be expected to pinch hit for other specialties and the amount and range of equipment for each of them varies greatly. The OR can be a hostile environment and it certainly isn't for everyone. You have to have a very tough skin, and be able to move on from confrontation without holding on to too much or it will burn you out before you can say transfer! The personalities tend to be very strong, and you will need to be able to find a way to work with all types.

    Having said all that, if by "people" you mean patients, then you do have somewhat limited contact with patients/families and it might be the place for you.

    Regardless, my best advice would be to shadow for a few days. Just because your friend likes it, I wouldn't assume that it's for you based on that alone.
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    I agree that you need to shadow for several days. We recently had a position opened, and the applicants that interviewed all spent a day shadowing. They were in for an eye-opening. I think a lot of people see OR nursing as not "real" nursing and that you either play gopher or sit on your butt. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Those who talked about being fascinated by surgery observation in nursing school I think were the most affected because they were focused on the surgery itself and completely ignored what the nurse was doing. Once they followed the nurse and paid attention to what he/she was doing, they realized just how much work was involved in being an OR nurse.
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    Very interesting and relevant comments for me. I am a 2nd semester BSN student who just spent my first day (12 hours of it) in the OR. I loved every minute of it, though my feet did not completely agree. It is very true that as a nursing student you are more focused on the surgery and miss a hefty portion of what the OR nurse does. I noticed there was an RN who was acting of more of a "surgical assistant" in one room but many OR nurses were at the periphery of the room or at the computer charting. The surgical technologists seemed to be right up on the action. I really loved the interdisciplinary function in the OR and, though I was admittedly more focused on the surgery, I got to see some actions that the RNs performed between surgeries like preparation of the room and pre surgery patient preperation and such. I enjoy many aspects of bedside nursing, but I really enjoyed the OR more than anything so far really. What aspects do you enjoy the most about the OR? What aspects do you enjoy the least? Thanks for the experiential wisdom


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