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Ask an OR nurse (Questions about what we do or how to become one of us)

Operating Room   (58,186 Views 159 Comments)

Rose_Queen is a BSN, MSN, RN and works as a Staff nurse educator.

352 Likes; 4 Followers; 4 Articles; 102,440 Visitors; 8,564 Posts

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You are reading page 10 of Ask an OR nurse (Questions about what we do or how to become one of us). If you want to start from the beginning Go to First Page.

Rose_Queen is a BSN, MSN, RN and works as a Staff nurse educator.

352 Likes; 4 Followers; 4 Articles; 102,440 Visitors; 8,564 Posts

inspired78, that really can vary from not only facility to facility but also specialty to specialty. I feel like I have adequate family time, although I've missed a few weekend events when it was my turn to cover call. I would just make sure that if you apply and have an interview that you ask up front about the call requirements, overtime frequency, and things like that.

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Thank you Ruby for starting this thread, and also Spiker for her thorough responses, and anyone else who has contributed on this thread. I will be starting an OR residency soon and this was just what I needed. I'm sure when I start I will have tons of questions! Just wanted to thank y'all in the mean time :)

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I'm starting an OR residency in Feb. Is there anything I can start studying now to make things easier during the residency?

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Spiker works as a OR nurse for 33 yrs. Nursing for 39 yrs total.; al.

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Thank you for this thread. I am currently working on an ortho/neuro unit in a hospital in South Texas. I graduated last December and do not yet have a full year of nursing under my belt. I am very interested in going to the OR. Does working in the OR allow for more family time? I currently work nights and feel I don't have enough time with my family. How different is Day surgery? Thank you for any reply you may have.

It all depends on the place you work, & their staffing policy. You may need to take weekend & holiday call, as well as night call, & still work your shift. I'd go to the OR in your facility, & ask the staff how their scheduling works. You probably won't routinely work every other weekend, or they may fully staff with weekenders.... There's the potential to have more family time, for sure, but occasionally expect to get stuck working longer than expected. Out of a 24 hour call day, I once worked 20 straight hours with my tech. Wiped us out!

When I first finished school, & had 2 kids in elementary school, I worked every weekend, & 1 weekday. That way I only needed a sitter 1 day/week, & I was there more. That's another option for u

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Oh no, Spiker, I wasn't clear. I have worked in the OR for 36 years! I meant that the OR is my niche. I'm good at it because I have to only concentrate on one patient and one case at a time. As a floor nurse, I was too distracted by having 5 or 6 patients at a time. Plus, I was too emotional about my patients and their families- this was 36 years ago, patients stayed in the hospital for a LONG time postoperative, usually a week to ten days. Which meant that we really got involved with patients and their lives. I am much more emotionally healthy now as an OR nurse. I'm very task oriented, as I guess you are, too!

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Spiker works as a OR nurse for 33 yrs. Nursing for 39 yrs total.; al.

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Oh no, Spiker, I wasn't clear. I have worked in the OR for 36 years! I meant that the OR is my niche. I'm good at it because I have to only concentrate on one patient and one case at a time. As a floor nurse, I was too distracted by having 5 or 6 patients at a time. Plus, I was too emotional about my patients and their families- this was 36 years ago, patients stayed in the hospital for a LONG time postoperative, usually a week to ten days. Which meant that we really got involved with patients and their lives. I am much more emotionally healthy now as an OR nurse. I'm very task oriented, as I guess you are, too!
I understand exactly what you mean! I too, started on a floor before the days of "same day" surgery. We cared for them preoperatively, then postoperatively, where they stayed for several days. We also got to care for them when needed. We got attached, laughed with them, & cried with families when loved ones passed. Sometimes I miss those days. We had great NA's that helped us do much with our 6 patients we usually we assigned to. Couldn't have done it without them. It helped me become the best that I can be, in the OR. Organizing & planning make the difference, 1 case at a time 😊

Edited by Spiker

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Thank you so much for starting this thread and to everyone who has commented! I'm starting an OR position next month so I've been reading this post and it has helped me go from nervous to mostly excited! I'm sure I will think of plenty of questions once my training program starts!

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Rose_Queen is a BSN, MSN, RN and works as a Staff nurse educator.

352 Likes; 4 Followers; 4 Articles; 102,440 Visitors; 8,564 Posts

I'm starting an OR residency in Feb. Is there anything I can start studying now to make things easier during the residency?

You may want to spend some time browsing through the AORN website as well as the journal articles. Some you won't be able to access without being a member, but others are free for all to read. You may also want to check out some of the books available on Amazon. I do have a few that I bought when I first started that are no longer in print, but I did find them helpful. Whether you choose to buy anything is a personal decision.

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In my experience, it's typically the anesthesiologist who does, as they have ready access to the drugs in their cart. However, there were cases when a nurse will jump in and be the medications person if the anesthesiologist is busy maintaining the patient's airway.

The beauty of working in the OR is that it is very much team-oriented. Your colleagues will help you if you need it. Of course, YMMV. ☺️

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Spiker works as a OR nurse for 33 yrs. Nursing for 39 yrs total.; al.

1 Like; 4,083 Visitors; 115 Posts

In my experience, it's typically the anesthesiologist who does, as they have ready access to the drugs in their cart. However, there were cases when a nurse will jump in and be the medications person if the anesthesiologist is busy maintaining the patient's airway.

The beauty of working in the OR is that it is very much team-oriented. Your colleagues will help you if you need it. Of course, YMMV. ☺️

Agreed: the OR is very team-oriented. Our anesthesiologists knew I was capable of handling any emergency, from starting more IV's to giving meds, setting up drips, Swans, A-Lines, etc. I was a paramedic, so handled a lot of issues in my ambulance, without a doc there anyway, just our protocols. We were ACLS, PALS, & ATLS certified, so it comes in handy to keep up those skills, & know policy & procedure for a code in the OR!

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I just started my OR residency (my 23rd day as a circulator) and I haven't done a lot yet but the expectations are for me to be able to run a room by myself with very little guidance/help. I have been in lots of different cases so it's not that I have just done 1 specialty since I started. I heard that some of my preceptors told my manager that I am not catching on -now I am fearful they will terminate me. How long does it take to "know it"? I am very sad about this and now have no confidence. Is there any advice you can offer me?

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Spiker works as a OR nurse for 33 yrs. Nursing for 39 yrs total.; al.

1 Like; 4,083 Visitors; 115 Posts

I just started my OR residency (my 23rd day as a circulator) and I haven't done a lot yet but the expectations are for me to be able to run a room by myself with very little guidance/help. I have been in lots of different cases so it's not that I have just done 1 specialty since I started. I heard that some of my preceptors told my manager that I am not catching on -now I am fearful they will terminate me. How long does it take to "know it"? I am very sad about this and now have no confidence. Is there any advice you can offer me?

Omg....it takes MANY more days than 23 to "know it'! Especially if you've been through several specislties! When I started in the OR 34 years ago, there was a set rotation we went through. ENT was 1st, as myringitomies, tonsillectomies, adenoidectomies, we're considered a good break-in area: low stress, not a lot of equipment. After a few weeks it was on to Gyn, then a few weeks later, General. Vascular & Ortho followed. I got to say when I felt good about moving on. It took a good 6 months before I felt truly comfortable running my own room, although I was doing it probably after 2 months. It's a tough place to learn, as technology changes so quickly: new procedures, new equipment, new surgeons all make differences in our practice! You learn techniques may change, but principles don't. I eventuality became specialized in Ortho & Neurosurgery, 2 of the "scariest" ones to me, at first! At any rate, let me ask you if you're being tossed daily into a different specialty? There should be some consistency, if the schedule for the day alliws. Putting you in all different cases doesn't allow you to become familiar with any one type of procedure! Ask if you can stick to one service for at least a week or two at a time! And carry a notebook around! Even now, I still carry a pad in my pocket to jot notes about new things: equipment, instruments, important phone #'s (lab, blood bank, core tech, vendors, charge nurses, Sterile Processing, doctors' offices, etc) that you may need in a hurry. Organization is key to learning the ropes in the OR. Having a good Mentor is next, & should be an RN who Dan realize what to help youcwith. Speak to your Supervisor if you feel things aren't progressing well for you. Communication is key. And just like patients need Care Plans, nurses orienting to a new unit need a plan too! Sit down & help plan a more consistent plan with your Supervisor & Mentor. I hope then that they'll realize you'll need more than 23 days there, before you actually "know it"! 😉

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