I was a scrub tech for about 13 years in plastics before returning to nursing school. When I started nursing school I only knew two things about my nursing future: It would not be bedside nursing and nowhere near Ped's. Anyway, I did my practicum in the OR and knew I was home. I went right into the OR after passing NCLEX. I am one of the fortunate OR nurses that also scrubs
. Sadly, this is a skill that is no longer taught in nursing school, but definitely gives you a heads up when you want to be in the OR as a circulator. I am considered a perioperative nurse as I work in all aspects of surgical care, preop, OR, and PACU. Currently I work a steady "PRN" job two days a week and agency two days a week all at ambulatory surgery centers. This works best for me as I get exposure in different specialties and different aspects of care. my steady "PRN" is in the OR circulating and my agency assignments can be pre, post or scrubbing. Typically if an OR nurse is looking for more responsibility in the OR and an increased pay (I can't validate if it is more), they will move on to first assist or RNFA. Perioperative nurses are more involved in patient care as Sweet_Wild_Rose stated in her post. CRNA's focus on anesthesia and don't really carry their "nursing" role into the perioperative setting. They are not always familiar with the equipment used in the OR or the instruments for each case. CRNA's are independent providers and definitely have more decision making authority in reference to the care of the patient. For me, perioperative nursing is about being there for the patient, being their voice when they are most vulnerable and cannot speak for themselves. I enjoy perioperative nursing, I think there is more autonomy in nursing in this arena. Duties are different depending on the facility, but for me, I check all the equipment before each case, bring in what equipment is necessary, pull extra instruments and suture that are frequently called for to cut down on time outside of the surgical suite, do my own preoperative assessment on each patient, and never leave the patients side until they are asleep. With that being said every setting is different and so is everyone's experience.
Good luck with whatever you choose!!!