Dating an OR Nurse


Hello Everyone,

My girlfriend of 4 years is an OR nurse.

Her being a nurse alone makes the relationship difficult, and until I found this website, I couldnt fully understand why her career was so demanding. I was quite oblivious to what goes on at the hospital. None the less, in an OR room. (In addition, we are doing long distance AND she doesn't speak english... yeah, I'm attempting something impossible!)

After reading all these posts from you amazing people, I have a new-found respect for her, and realized how much stress I've probably caused her... I'm quite ashamed.:o Until now, I've demanded quite a lot of attention from her. And I really just didn't know how I could understand more about her career...

Now, I've read through the forums this entire weekend, and have learnt quite a lot about nursing, but I wanted to ask all the OR nurses out there:

1. Can you generously advise me on what you feel is most important that I should understand about being an OR nurse opposed to any other nurse, that I should take into consideration?

2. Those of you that have relationships with people in a non-medical field: what problems have you had to overcome in a relationship?

3. What is it about Neuro operations, and ob-gyn operations that make nurses like them so much? (including her) Are they just simple to perform, or? I hear that many ob-gyn operations can get really messy....

Again, i've learnt so much from this site! It would be impossible for me to understand her demanding lifestyle without hearing all of your experiences!


295 Posts

Specializes in Only the O.R. and proud of it!. Has 13 years experience.

Please forgive me for sounding like an advice columnist. I am no "Dear Abby." I am going here by the few things that you have posted, and a little reading between the lines. So, that said, here's my thoughts:

*Being a nurse in a relationship with a non-medical professional (or vice-versa) is not in-and-of-itself a problem. The problem lies within one of the two of you. It is up to you both to discuss this and figure out how and why (and who). Are you less willing to listen to her about her day at work because you do not understand it? Is it because of the language barrier? Are you making an attempt to understand her and her job? (I would think so, because of your interest in the OR postings.) Is she unwilling to speak to you about work because she feels that you do not understand, or will not understand? My wife is not a nurse, and we communicate very well. There are things other than the OR that we speak of. When I tell her of my day, I keep it in terms that she understands.

*I will not pretend that OR nursing is any more or less stressful than any other type of nursing, or any other type of job (medical or not). As with any job, in any field, it baries from person to person and from day to day.

*Relationship with my wife and friends and family: There is ALOT that I cannot tell them about OR nursing. They would not understand. I cannot explain the layout of my institution to them, how much running that I really do, how emotionally stressful it is to help another human unable to help themselves. We are THE patient advocate. On the floor, some patients can speak for themselves. My patients cannot. We deal with naked and partially naked bodies, try to keep them as covered as possible for as long as possible, expose as little as possible at all times, preserve their dignity (even though they are "asleep") at all times, and deal with potential and actual life and death situations. How do you convey that? We also have to keep patient's privacy. USA has the HIPAA laws, all nurses follow a code of ethics, even with no law to enforce it.

*One type of procedure (Neuro, GYN, Urology, etc) is not easier or harder than any other. It is all about preferences. I prefer Urology. Is it easier for me because I understand it, or so I understand it because it is easy for me? I don't know. It's just what I like. Give me a Cysto case, or a prostatectomy, or a pyeloplasty any time of any day! Just fo rthe record - I dislike (not hate) neuro surgery!!

KUDOS to you for trying to understand your girlfriend better, and be a better boyfriend to her!! Long distance relationshios are hard enough without a language barrier!! You never said how far apart that you live.... or how often you speak or see each other. Just remember that because you are far apart, you both still need human interaction. Maybe she needs time woth people. When you are not there, she must have her friends (and you, too!).

I hope that I have not been judgemental, that I have been helpful, and I hope this hasn't been too long-winded!!

Please forgive all my spelling and grammar errors!!

TracyB,RN, RN

646 Posts

Specializes in jack of all trades, master of none. Has 14 years experience.

Nursing is stressful.... sick, scared patients... concerned, confused families. OR nurses get maybe 10 minutes (on a good day) to learn all we need to know to safely care for our patients before we put them under anesthetic, cut them open & fix them up. They COMPLETELY depend on us. Their safety is literally in our hands... IT's a thrill & completely scary, to be so responsible for someone' life, but a total honor, as well, to be trusted, after a brief "Hi, I'm your nurse while you're having (insert surgery here)today." Some patients are better informed than others..

We run our A$$es all day long (why I'm not super thin I'll never understand, LOL) We get reamed new ones by doctors who think we sit in the corner reading comic books, when we're really wiping down equipment, prepping the room for the next case. It's fast paced between cases... then sometimes slow once the case gets started. It's like no other nursing job that I've experienced.

I LOVE IT, LOVE ORTHO/NEURO, dislike pretty much everything else, except plastics... Guess I like to SEE the fixed/finished work,especially if it's a serious injury & our working saved someone's leg.... COOL stuff.

As far as your girlfriend... lots of highs & lows in one day, let alone a week, plus I'm sure, lots of extra hours.... Physically grueling at times...

Rock on for trying to understand her job better :)


64 Posts

Man, all nursing aspects aside, long distance relationships are really, really tough. The one thing that can make it work, or at least give it a chance, is EXCELLENT communication. Unless you speak the language of your girlfriend, it seems to me to be a long road ahead.:o


104 Posts

Specializes in Med Surg, Case Management, OR. Has 16 years experience.

I love working in the OR. My husband has some medical background (techincal biomed stuff) so we do talk about stuff that each other understands. But there are some days that I am so frustrated and dumbfounded from a crappy day that I come home and have no desire to speak, really. I just want to zone out and of course I'd like to share in what made my day stink, but the energy and effort to recant the whole mess of a day isn't worth it. And when I do hang out with non-medical people, they don't see the world as I do in regards to how "cool" something is in the OR. Most people in general don't want to know what goes on when the patient is asleep...I think it's an uncomfortable thing for people to imagine...the whole loss of control issue. So I tend to keep quiet in those situations unless they come to me and ask.


295 Posts

Specializes in Only the O.R. and proud of it!. Has 13 years experience.

RoRo - you said it wonderfully. When we get together with friends, the OR never comes up in conversation! Even when family asks about my day, I usually keep it to a 'fine' or 'frustrating.' When my dad was preparing for a laparoscopic inguinal hernia surgery, he kept on asking me a different question or two every day until a few days AFTER the surgery!! I think that he now understands just a bit more about working in the OR.


149 Posts

I have been in the OR for 30+ years so I asked my pharmacist husband and here is his advise to you:

Don't expect dinner on the table, ever

Be prepared to be a good short-order cook and love it.

Be a hands on parent when that time comes and.

Know that you are in a relationship with a person who totally understands the human condition.

Wow, I learned alot by answering your question.

It's a good one. Good luck.


35 Posts

Specializes in Vascular,Heart team, Urology,Gen...

OR nurses deal with "Human Life" as an OR nurse, I am the patient advocate. I take that role very seriously. Any specialty within the OR is technically challenging, stressful depending on the patient needs. Not really much of OR is "easy" unless you have "done it all" and done it well! I would guess your girl likes challenging herself at work.You are doing well investigating OR nurses. We are a breed that LOVES doing our job well, saving lives, doing our best and rising to the challenges that all the specialties in OR provide us. It is a demanding,physically challenging and mentally stimulating place to work. I am very proud to be an OR nurse for over 30 years! good luck to you. By the way, think you should work on the language deal, that cannot be easy! ;-)


149 Posts

Great to see you chime in!!! I love it!

This topic is now closed to further replies.