Published Jul 23, 2009
I am considering a change from critical care/PACU to the operating room and could use some advice. What skills/traits should a nurse have to become an OR nurse? I have been reading the blogs about OR nursing, but alot of them have all the negative aspects....doctors yelling, heavy equipment, must be thick skinned, etc. Are there any cricital care nurses who have made the transition to the OR, and what do you like about it? Do you have to have a strong stomach to work in the OR? Believe me I have seen some gory stuff working in the ICU, but am alittle worried about the blood and guts of the OR. Also, truly how physically demanding is it? After spending years turning/bathing/moving 300 +lbs ICU patients, how does that compare to the physical demands of the OR? Any information to help me make this decision would be most appreciated. BTW...I have been a nurse for over 9 years, so I have the nursing/organization stuff down.
GadgetRN71, ASN, RN
The OR is a physically demanding job-there is no way around this. Your body does adjust but there are heavy trays, OR tables and sometimes you have to wear lead aprons. You also spend much of the shift on your feet.
I work in a level one trauma hospital so we get it all as far as blood and guts..you get used to that too. You do need a thick skin but I think the OR has made me a much more assertive person. As far as docs..most are cool. If someone does yell at you though, you can yell back. . I'm serious, some of them don't start to respect you until you give it back to them.
I love the OR..yes, I have my days like anyone else. But, most times, I actually have fun at work.
Don't go to the OR thinking it will be any less physically demanding that the unit. I found it to be just the opposite. You will still be moving the 300 lb. patient, only now they are under anesthesia. You will also be crawling on the floor, carrying absurdly heavy trays, moving beds and video towers, working with power tools and knowing how to do cases in every specialty (the surgeon does not).
I happen to think the move from critical care to the OR is a great way to go. You bring a wealth of knowledge, but it is a whole new world behind the double doors. Your ability to work in a pressure charged situation will be helpful. Critical thinking skills are invaluable. I was talked into going to the OR by a couple of physicians who saw that I would go to the procedure room and do any procedure. That was >20 yrs ago.
As far as the blood and guts goes, we all have our weak spots. Vomit, stool, mucous, pus....that's just Tuesday. During most regular cases, there is not much gore. I work at a trauma center, though, so all bets are off with that. Last week I gave one patient 58 units of blood product during a 3 hour case. If you have been successful in the ICU for any period of time, the OR becomes almost a natural fit.
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