Advice Please: Seeking Operating Room Job

Updated | Posted
by Famturn Famturn (New) New Student

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I'm going into my third year of school and I'm interested in the OR when I graduate. Over this Summer, I reached out and was able to shadow a RN in one of the bigger ORs in my area! The experience confirmed to me that this is the direction I would like to go when I graduate. They were extremely  welcoming, told me they hire new grads, and encouraged me to apply for the next upcoming externship.

 I also work as a per diem nursing assistant and was advised that I shouldn't apply for an OR position right out of school. Instead I was encouraged to do a year of med surg nursing first. 

Is that sound advice? I'm a 50 year old student and this is a second career for me. I know what I want to do and at my age would like to take the most direct route. However, if it would be beneficial to work med surg first I would. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! 

Thank you! 

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 17 years experience. 5 Articles; 11,083 Posts

“Do a year of med/surg first” is outdated. Even med/surg units have become highly specialized. If you can get into your desired specialty right out of school, go for it. 

emergenceRN17, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Has 4 years experience. 812 Posts

I totally agree with Rose_Queen.  See if you can find an OR Residency program once you graduate.  Not sure what state you are in but there are several in mine (MA). Or you can also take Perioperative 101 by the AORN, it is offered at some nursing schools. 

Best of luck!

Famturn

Famturn

9 Posts

2 hours ago, Rose_Queen said:

“Do a year of med/surg first” is outdated. Even med/surg units have become highly specialized. If you can get into your desired specialty right out of school, go for it. 

Thank you!

Famturn

Famturn

9 Posts

19 minutes ago, emergenceRN17 said:

I totally agree with Rose_Queen.  See if you can find an OR Residency program once you graduate.  Not sure what state you are in but there are several in mine (MA). Or you can also take Perioperative 101 by the AORN, it is offered at some nursing schools. 

Best of luck!

Thank you! I'm in Pennsylvania. I'll look into what programs are available. I'm also going to look for perioperative 101 courses as well. The shadowing may have paid off. I have an interview as an operating room assistant per diem. I'm hoping they will be able to work around my school schedule...two different clinicals this fall. 

emergenceRN17, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Has 4 years experience. 812 Posts

I found these to have OR nurse residency programs:

-Penn State Health Hampden Medical Center.

-Penn State Health Lancaster Medical Center.

-Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Famturn

Famturn

9 Posts

3 hours ago, emergenceRN17 said:

I found these to have OR nurse residency programs:

-Penn State Health Hampden Medical Center.

-Penn State Health Lancaster Medical Center.-Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Thank you!

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 17 years experience. 5 Articles; 11,083 Posts

3 hours ago, emergenceRN17 said:

I found these to have OR nurse residency programs:

-Penn State Health Hampden Medical Center.

-Penn State Health Lancaster Medical Center.

-Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

There are many many others that offer a thorough OR orientation, although they may not specifically call it an OR residency. 

(Penn State Health Lancaster has not opened its doors to patients yet)

I would also be sure to look into size and volume of ORs when applying. Large academic centers will have the more complex cases; smaller community hospitals may not have those complex cases at all. And some may have huge volumes of cases, others may not. All things to ask about in your interviews, OP, along with things like call requirements, whether you will be expected to circulate and scrub, whether you will join a specialty team and only do those surgeries or be a jack of all trades, etc. 

Famturn

Famturn

9 Posts

49 minutes ago, Rose_Queen said:

There are many many others that offer a thorough OR orientation, although they may not specifically call it an OR residency. 

(Penn State Health Lancaster has not opened its doors to patients yet)

I would also be sure to look into size and volume of ORs when applying. Large academic centers will have the more complex cases; smaller community hospitals may not have those complex cases at all. And some may have huge volumes of cases, others may not. All things to ask about in your interviews, OP, along with things like call requirements, whether you will be expected to circulate and scrub, whether you will join a specialty team and only do those surgeries or be a jack of all trades, etc. 

Thank you for the information. I also have an update. I was able to land a job as an operating room aide and the hospital I shadowed! They said they would work around my academic schedule when I return for the fall semester. I found out that it's not mandatory to scrub but it is strongly encouraged. It's a 300 bed facility and a level 2 trauma center. Thank you again...I'm excited about how things seem to be falling into place. I'll be able to find out so much by working there. 

Edited by Famturn

Test Stress

Test Stress, BSN

Specializes in Operating Room. 3 Posts

Hi! I'm a recently graduated BSN student who works in an OR as a nursing assistant and will transition into the RN role at that OR once I pass my boards. The comments here have covered a lot but I just want to add my two cents as I had over 700 hours of experience in the OR prior to graduating.

Regarding whether or not to do med-surg first, there's never any harm in specializing straight out of school. There's no shortage of nurses at the bedside so if you for some reason really hate it, you can just go back to the floor as soon as you want.

There are also a lot of pros/cons with larger vs. smaller ORs - I've been at four facilities so far, two with 20+ OR suites and two with ~10 OR suites. The larger ones split day shift into service teams, which can be really good if you already know what service you like(ortho, general, plastics) but can come with the downside of not learning a variety of services and being versatile. It also means you'll normally be working with the same people all the time, and I've seen that be pretty detrimental for me as a student. Smaller ORs have the benefit of fairly tight camaraderie amongst the staff, it's easier to integrate into the environment, and you can learn all the services available. I've also found that in the smaller ORs it's easier to make yourself heard as an employee, both of the larger ORs I was at didn't address full-time staffs' concerns much, if at all.

If you have the option to, teaching hospitals are in my opinion great to be at. Teaching hospitals tend to have really active nurse educators who advocate and make sure you're on track to fulfilling your orientation/residency as well. If they take nursing students/med students/residents for shadowing or rotations, it's an indicator that there's a chunk of them who enjoy teaching - and if you pick up a similar role with precepting it keeps knowledge and rationale fresh.

I would not recommend "main" campuses of hospitals overall - they're too big, staff concerns can get overlooked very easily, nurses get thrown under the bus, etc. My best OR experiences were at smaller "satellite" hospitals under the same name, and I learned more.

Glad to see more people wanting to get into the OR!

Edie Brous

3 Posts

I went to the OR as a new grad in the 70s & the idea that I needed med/surg first was outdated even then.  I think some experience is necessary first before working independently like in school nursing, or for the ER, but you should be able to enjoy a position in the OR right out of school if the hospital has a training program.  Good luck!

Journey_On, BSN, RN

Specializes in Occupational Health and Mother Baby. Has 13 years experience. 293 Posts

As someone who wasn't able to work their preferred specialty until 12 years out of nursing school, I say, go directly for the specialty you want. 😊