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Can't handle certain surgery.

Hello community,

I wanted to share with anyone who may be willing to read this post about a possible issue I might of come across before applying to nursing school. As of right now I have been working on my core classes and I am pretty much finished with them once I get through this semester. I been doing really good in all them including anatomy and physiology. Lowest grade I had in all my classes was a B.

Anyways before I decided to become a nurse I was working full-time as an EMT running a lot of cardiac arrests, gun shot wounds, head traumas, etc. I really enjoyed my time working as an EMT and running those calls cause I learned a lot and never once did I ever feel sick or about to faint at the sight of blood. If anything I can have blood all over my gloves and would not be phased. As I have been making my way through schooling I wanted to start watching videos on surgery just for the heck of it. My first video I was watching was a heart surgery video and I started to feel sick, queasy and it forced me to stop watching the video. It was not the blood that was grossing me out but just the beating of the heart and watching the heart beat which is what I guess you can say did me in. But I can watch a video on head trauma and surgeons clearing out the pool of blood that is soaking around the brain and I can watch them drilling and cutting into the skull but that heart surgery did me in. When I was kid in middle school and high school I used to faint a lot in health class not due to seeing anything but for some reason my body just would overreact to one specific subject. That subject was the reproductive system for some reason. I do not know how to explain it but sitting in class talking about the reproductive system always makes my body feel numb, nauseas, faint like and sweaty. Its the weirdest thing and I never knew why it causes that but today it still happens but only in a classroom atmosphere. I can talk about the reproductive system all day outside of a classroom and would not be phased but in a classroom is a different story and I do not know why. I'm worried that since I can not handle certain surgery videos and have a bit of hearth anxiety when it comes to the heart, can i still become a nurse? I am just so nervous about the operating room cause I do not want to end up fainting on certain surgeries if that happens. The thing is I do not want to end up having to choose another career field cause of something so stupid like this. Another example is for the two months I started getting heart palpations that has lead me to see a cardiologist that hooked me up to a holter monitor. Of course it was normal but I guess its easy to say i suffer from a bit of health anxiety cause I really care about my health and i worry about something going wrong.

Just wanted to know if any nurses had issues with this and if they did how they overcame it? Too me it would be so devastating to end my career choice over something so stupid like these issues. Im such a good student with a 3.69 GPA and my AP teacher told me multiple times he wants to see me as a nurse. My ultimate goal is to be a orthopedic nurse practitioner by the way. I want to work with athletes who had injuries or veterans who lost limbs and needed a prosthetic.

Luckyyou, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU.

Don't be a CVOR/CTICU nurse. Done.


Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVICU.

If that's the only thing that grosses you out, I'm confident you're faring better than many nurses already working. Do what Luckyyou said, and just avoid units where you work with those types of things. No need to change career paths...

Here.I.Stand, BSN, RN

Specializes in SICU, trauma, neuro.

If your program has an OR day, I would make sure the staff know about it -- THEY don't want you to faint either. ;) There are likely non-heart operations happening for you to observe. Otherwise, like the others said just don't apply for jobs in the OR or CVICU.

Bad ortho stuff makes me quesy. Mostly bones sticking out or even non ortho related wounds where you can see down to bone....gets me!! Its gotten better over the years but I certainly will not ever work ortho. Just don't work surgery and you will be fine!!

Hey Luckyyou,

Honestly I feel stupid posting this now. I had no idea Nurses have the ability to choose what they wanted to specialize in. I just thought when you apply to the hospital they will put you wherever they feel is needed.

Hey Cvepo,

Yes it actually kinda makes me surprised at the thought of that being the only thing that grosses me out. When I was working as an EMT and dealing with patients who vomited and pooped themselves I never really got grossed out. Yeah the smell sucked but after a minute or two I was able to handle myself. Im very weird honestly, watching surgeries other than heart surgery is pretty easy for me but have to get blood drawn sucks cause I can't look lol but I can take peoples blood all day without a problem.

roser13, ASN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg, Ortho, ASC.

I'm guessing that the reproductive issue may be related to the subject matter? Conversations about reproductive health lead to talks about sex and maybe there's a part of you that's still learning to discuss these things as an adult.

So yes, just do not become an OR nurse. Easy peasy.

Hello Here.I.Stand,

Im almost positive my future nursing school with have an OR day, I am not sure for certain thought cause I have been accepted into any yet. I will for sure let they know. I was just nervous at first telling them or advising them cause I afraid they might see me different or wonder why I am even pursing nursing. Thank you replying to my post!

Hey SaltySarcasticSally,

Oh wow!? See for some reason bones sticking out does not phase me one bit. If anything I think its cool and would be fun to fix up (not meaning I wish for it to happen lol). Seeing wounds far into the bone does nothing for me either. Ive seen burns to the bone that I thought looked cool and I saw gunshot wounds to the bone and never phased me. Thank you for commenting on my thread and sharing your thoughts and experience! I really do appreciate it


Specializes in Urgent Care, Oncology.

Sounds like you'd just prefer ER nursing...

Hey VaccineQueen!

Uhmm well its kinda hard for me to say right now cause I really have no experience in any fields. Not sure where I would really prefer to be but when what I do know is I would love to be a nurse working in sports medicine but I am not sure if thats possible. I wanted to be a physical therapist before choosing nursing but didn't like how it was changed from masters to doctorate.

Blah. Surgery grosses me out too. I can deal with gushing wounds, but the slicing an incision I almost always have to look away. The idea of standing in a room with a mask over my face makes me claustrophobic. Kudos to the OR nurses, I'm not knocking them. I just have no interest in that. Lots of different areas of nursing out there. Every nurse here will have something they really don't like and something they really do. Pick the areas you like.

We all have that thing. For me it's the sound of the suction with traces. I get queasy thinking about it. No ICU's for me.

When I did my surgery days the nurses always told us that if we felt lightheaded just leave. My instructor told us if we passed out make sure we fell away from the sterile field.

You should do fine. Just don't become a surgical nurse.

Hey Tsm007,

Thanks for replying to my thread! Honestly throughout all these posts I am just really grateful I am not the only one who struggles with this. I remember working as a firefighter and dealing with tight spaces made me very claustrophobic as well. The only way I made it through was breathing and praying haha. Definitely kudos to the OR nurses as well, I could never handle that stuff and in my opinion that takes a special person. Heck even surgeons take a very special person. I know I could not handle working on a heart during surgery. Im glad this post I made helped clear up a lot cause I was so nervous I made a huge mistake.

On a side note, have you ever heard of nurses going into the medical field who struggle with health anxiety? I have no idea what it is but ever since I started learning about all kinds of diseases and I would get a symptom of it, I started thinking I had it. Similar to medical student syndrome. When I had heart palpations I started thinking I had heart disease or was coming down with early symptoms of a heart attack. Till this day I have anxiety over heart disease. Weirdest thing cause it never phased me before. Just thought I'd ask this.

Hey Cat365,

Oh wow! Jeez I can't begin to explain how many times we had to suction in the ambulance. Those were just real fun -.-. Watching all that crumb and food come up and sometimes get stuck sucked seeing cause you had to unclog it but I got used to that.

Hopefully when I start my rotations, the nurses and instructors will be just as nice as yours were. Thanks for replying to my thread!

My two things are broken fingers (I don't know why, but it nauseates me even to think about broken fingers) and bone marrow biopsies. Give me a C-Diff, projectile vomiting fresh crani with gaping wounds showing fat, muscle, bone any day, but a biopsy will turn my stomach in a heartbeat. Everyone has their thing.

bgxyrnf, MSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Tele; ED; ICU.

We've all got our icky things... or at least we did.

By this point, there's pretty much nothing that gets to me...

except maybe maggot-infested, necrotic cancer wounds... last time around with one of those did require me to step back a couple times to get military bearing (so to speak).

Prior to nursing school, I used to be the most squeamish guy around. Even in school I had a couple of near-vagal events.

You'll be fine.

Congrats on getting your GPA up!!


Specializes in LTC, Rehab.

Hey Luckyyou,

Honestly I feel stupid posting this now. I had no idea Nurses have the ability to choose what they wanted to specialize in. I just thought when you apply to the hospital they will put you wherever they feel is needed.

Well not only that, but you don't necessarily have to work in a hospital either.


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