What are important personal qualities needed in the OR?

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    I have always wanted to go into OR nursing. I am now entering a phase in my nursing career where I am seriously considering applying for such a position. Could any OR nurses tell me what is the most important quality needed by nurses to adapt to such a stressful environment? I am very methodical about organization and extremely conscientious but can also be very sensitive and hard on myself if I don't do something correctly. Do you think I could work well in an OR? After you are experienced do you have a routine in the OR when you scrub or work on same type of surgeries, or is it always different or chaotic (obviously emergencies are not routine)?

    Thank you for help!

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  2. 7 Comments...

  3. 0
    Quote from findingmywayRN
    I have always wanted to go into OR nursing. I am now entering a phase in my nursing career where I am seriously considering applying for such a position. Could any OR nurses tell me what is the most important quality needed by nurses to adapt to such a stressful environment? I am very methodical about organization and extremely conscientious but can also be very sensitive and hard on myself if I don't do something correctly. Do you think I could work well in an OR? After you are experienced do you have a routine in the OR when you scrub or work on same type of surgeries, or is it always different or chaotic (obviously emergencies are not routine)?

    Thank you for help!
    Thick skin, assertiveness, ability to multi-taks and set priorities (sounds like you already have this attribute!) and, most importantly, willingness to advocate for your patient come hell or high water-even though you may encounter resistance even from those who, (often management) in theory, TELL you that patient advocacy is your most important job--but often don't support you in practice.

    You will do fine.

    You generally must rotate through all services once you are learning. If you want to take call, it's imperative that you maintain a working knowledge of all services, becuase you never know what may come crashing through the doors. However, once you are experienced, and especailly if you work in a HUGE OR or a teaching center, some people choose ot specialize and they are divided into "clusters--" i.e., nurses who do ONLY GYN, nurses who do ONLY hearts, nurses who do ONLY ortho. Pretty boring, in my opinion, but some like having a comfort zone.
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    Keep your eyes and ears open. Learn all you can from the most experienced OR nurses. Have skin like "teflon" and let everything just slide off of you. There are always going to be the ones in departments that will do everything to make life miserable for you, smile and get on with life. Stevierae is right in your assessment, learn all aspects of OR nursing, don't become one of the "specialty" OR nurses because it only hurts you in the long run. I see it all the time with these "specialty" nurses, they only can do the things they are familiar with and suck at all other specialties. Don't be afraid of trying something new, you have to be willing to attempt it without being rattled. You might not be the best in all specialties but you need to have a working knowledge for those cases that are dropped in your lap at 3am!!! Good luck, Mike
  5. 0
    Quote from shodobe
    Keep your eyes and ears open. Learn all you can from the most experienced OR nurses. Have skin like "teflon" and let everything just slide off of you. There are always going to be the ones in departments that will do everything to make life miserable for you, smile and get on with life. Stevierae is right in your assessment, learn all aspects of OR nursing, don't become one of the "specialty" OR nurses because it only hurts you in the long run. I see it all the time with these "specialty" nurses, they only can do the things they are familiar with and suck at all other specialties. Don't be afraid of trying something new, you have to be willing to attempt it without being rattled. You might not be the best in all specialties but you need to have a working knowledge for those cases that are dropped in your lap at 3am!!! Good luck, Mike

    WELCOME BACK, SHODOBE!!!!!!! MISSED YOU!!!!!!!

    Also, when you find yourself in a new room, with a new doc that you have never worked with before, just tell him that you have never done this procedure before, but you are anxious to learn, and you hope he will be willing to help you. He will appreciate your honesty and willingness to learn, and will do everything he can to help you. Do it well enough the second and thrid time with him, to show that you listened and applied what he told you, and you may well become his favorite scrub and indespensible to him.

    Don't believe all that hype about surgeons throwing instruments and such. For the most part, surgeons only get angry at people who come in with an attitude, don't want to be there, and have no willingness to learn or even FAKE it. When you do something wrong time after time after TIME, even the most sainted doc can get angry and impatient--after, all, that's a LIFE the team is dealing with up there on the table, and there is no room for error because someone won't listen and learn, or has a surly attitude.

    But, those surgeons generally just quietly ask that the people with surly attitudes or those who just don't seem to care about excellence---that is, they do only the bare minimum required to just get by-- not be put in their room anymore--and you can't blame them. The days of throwing instruments out of anger are long gone--docs get suspended and sent to anger management classes for such infractions.
    Last edit by stevierae on Aug 1, '04
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    as usual I agree with the replies above although would like to start a thread on Stevierae's take on the surgeons, however thats for another time. I would have to also add and I know that this can apply to any aspect of nursing but I am so anal about this as in the OR environment all the hustle and bustle can be overwhelming and a new RN may find themselves "carried away" by a more experienced staff member. I tell all new grads, they MUST follow policy and procedure for that particular OR. It dosent matter what nurse" I've been here 100 yrs seen it all done it all", says, if you dont follow policy you dont have a leg to stand on. Stand up for yourself, take it all in, show your willing to learn, if your allocated to a room learn the A&P, I get so frustrated when someone just expects me to teach them the A&P, Physiology and medications. If I have someone starting in the room I wouldent even let them near an instrument until they can go through the A&P, and physiology. Then we can go through the instrumentation ect ect. Handing instruments is not a hard job at all, I have a young son who could hand you instruments if you taught him the names. The trick is knowing what those instruments are doing, the impact they are making on the patient, how to troubleshoot, how to anticipate. So learn the basics on your own and people like me will teach you all you need to know
  7. 0
    Did I really write A&P AND physiology TWICE, I'm so tired, I'm going to bed, nite all
  8. 0
    Thank you everyone for your input. Sorry for my late reply.

    Stevierae and Mike: I agree it is important to know all surgical areas, and not just focus on one. How long does it take to rotate through these areas, and how long do you train in each service? You mentioned taking call - is it an option? If you specialize in one area are you on call for all areas or just your specialty?

    Carcha: It must be hard for a newbie to stand up to how things are done by the staff who has been there "forever," but as you point out following policy and proceedure is putting the patient first.

    Thanks again for sharing your insight and experience. It is appreciated.
  9. 0
    Quote from findingmywayRN
    Thank you everyone for your input. Sorry for my late reply.

    Stevierae and Mike: I agree it is important to know all surgical areas, and not just focus on one. How long does it take to rotate through these areas, and how long do you train in each service? You mentioned taking call - is it an option? If you specialize in one area are you on call for all areas or just your specialty?
    Average rotation in any one area is 6 weeks--HOWEVER, if you are not feeling comfortable, don't be afarid to speak up and ask for a longer rotation. They will appreciate your honesty and assertiveness.

    Re: call--depends on how big the hospital is. I have worked at huge hospitals where call at night, instead of having ONE circulator and ONE scrub, had, instead, a team for each service, or "cluster." What a waste of money, in my opinion. I feel that there should be one scrub and one circualtor who have enough experience in the various services to do whatever comes through the door--especially trauma. I have absolutely no patience with those people who "don't (meaning: can't; won't learn) do neuro, or don't do ortho, or don't do trauma. I feel if this is true they have absolutely NO business taking call. They could cost someone his or her life or limb. A possible exception is transplant and open heart--those teams are highly specialized and they are always in those rooms--probably better that they are the ones that come in on call for those cases, simply becuase they have the routine absolutely down to a science and it just represents better continuity of care--especially if the patient has to return to the OR as they often do.

    As far as call being an option--well, in most hospitals, everyone is assigned, although I have worked at some where it was voluntary. There are always people who WANT call, so it's fairly easy to get rid of it in bigger hospitals--USUALLY. There are times that you can't PAY someone to take your call--especially holidays.

    When you are first getting used to being an OR nurse, it's a good idea to take call--that way you get used to being in charge and independent decision making, as well as being around a variety of cases (that you might not see during the day) and increasing your skill level and comfort level with all of them. Also, you'll get to know the docs more.


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