Advice for A New RN in the OR

Specialties Operating Room


Hello all! Just graduated with my BSN recently and am feeling a little underwhelmed with it all. I signed a 3 year contract for the Operating Room because I was sure that was what I wanted to do. My plan was to do 2 years as a circulator and then start my RNFA training because I know the circulator life is not for me so the 3 years worked out because my manager said she would facilitate hours for my clinicals for the program. I do like being in the OR but I'm constantly thinking if I should just go back to school for NP now. I always had this in the back of my mind that I wanted to continue further than BSN but I thought I would be happier as a nurse than I am right now. I would like to stay in the Operating Room because I do genuinely like the environment but know as a nurse, its just not for me. Are there any NP's that work in the OR? What degree/specialty do you have/does it matter what you choose? I NEED ADVICE!!

Editorial Team / Admin

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

6 Articles; 11,594 Posts

Specializes in OR, Nursing Professional Development.

First of all, please give yourself time to acclimate to the role of the RN in the OR. It's going to take you 1-2 years to get comfortable and feel competent, especially depending on the complexity of the patients your OR sees. I work in an academic center where we don't send any patients out- they all come to us. Our orientation is 9 months, and it takes about a year after completing orientation for the new to the OR nurses to feel like they know what they're doing. 

That being said, that doesn't mean you can't look at your career progression and where you see yourself in 5 years. I know you commented on my What does an OR nurse do thread, so my advice:

Get through that first year. Focus on making the transition from student to licensed nurse while orienting to your new position. After that first year, then start thinking about future career path. RNFA vs NP really depends on what is it you want to do? RNFAs, unless they also hold an NP license, are not licensed providers- they stick to their expanded role within the OR. The NP can be utilized outside of the OR, such as seeing patients in the office or on the inpatient unit. While they may function in an assistant role in the OR, they are not limited to that. 

@Alicia777 is an NP who recently chose to return to the circulator role, so she may be able to provide additional insight. Here is one of her posts regarding being a surgical NP:


LAM2010, BSN

127 Posts

Specializes in O.R. Nursing - ENT, CTC, Vasc..

We had an OR nurse who was actually a NP, she just decided she liked the OR work.  But after awhile she got a job as a NP for the anesthesia department.  Also, our surgeons use PAs and NPs in their clinics but also bring them to the OR as assistants, like first assists.  So those are ideas for later 😊

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