Does experience on a surgical floor give you a leg up for a job in the OR?


Applied for a position as a circulator/scrub nurse today (yes, they are cross training for both). I was just wondering if you all think working as a floor nurse on a surgical floor can give someone any sort of advantage or if it's meaningless. I highlighted it because I thought that caring for fresh post-op patients might make me stand out (I've actually learned, despite the bad repuation med/surg nursing has gotten as being "general", most nurses do not know how to care for a fresh post-op) and that's where my one year of experience has been. I also mentioned a Perioperative Nursing course I took as an elective in college, where we learned to scrub in and out, details about each role in the OR, different instruments, etc (I graduated only a year ago so I think that course is still kinda relevant).

Looking back at the listing, it says "minimum 1 year experience as a registered nurse in the operating room"....whoops. Missed the "in the operating room" part. So they may completely disqualify me for that. Shoot, where are we supposed to get experience if everywhere wants experience? The age-old question.

I guess I just wanted to see if you all thought I stood a chance. =] Thanks.


1,221 Posts

Specializes in Peri-Op. Has 10 years experience.

Depending on the person woking on the hospital floor does nothing to help you in the OR. The only person it can help with is someone that needs confidence with themself handling patients and managing their time prioritizing....

ChristineAdrianaRN, BSN, RN

1 Article; 168 Posts

Specializes in Pediatric and Adult OR. Has 7 years experience.

Welp, doesn't matter because I just got a call this morning that they want that OR experience. At least they had the courtesy to call! Sucks, though.


2 Posts

Specializes in operating room.

the operating room is a world all of it's own. it's not like floor nursing, and while it is great that you can take care of a patient AFTER surgery, that is the least of our concerns in the OR. if you are interested in OR nursing, try talking to the charge/ head nurse in the OR in your hospital and see if they have a training program...some hospitals are desparate for nurses and don't mind training...our hospital teaches surgical tech students, PA students, and special forces medics (military hospital) nurses, most of us love to teach and would be willing to train anyone who can make it thru the hospital's red tape and get permission...especially if we might get to keep you after... :0)


9 Posts

I guess it's all relative. In someone with no OR experience surgical nursing would probably look a lot more attractive than medical or non-hospital experience. I mean, you're familiar with names of procedures, types of drains, types of dressings, which patients are going to need a catheter put in or antibiotics charted; all different little things that would help with the circulating nurse role.

Sure they're all minor, but if you're going to hire someone without OR experience then you don't want to have to start with explaining what an BKA, or TAH BSO is.. yunnow? :)

canesdukegirl, BSN, RN

8 Articles; 2,543 Posts

Specializes in Trauma Surgery, Nursing Management. Has 14 years experience.

I used to work Med/Surg and I think the sheer time management skills that I learned from working on the floor helped me when I became an OR nurse.

It helps that you are already familiar with a wide range of drugs. Some of the nurses that come straight to the OR from school have a bit more trouble with recognizing drugs. I was teaching a new nurse one day, and the pt had an allergy to ranitidine. The nurse asked me what it was because she had never heard of it. I said, "It is the generic name for Zantac", and she immediately nodded her head and said, "that's right, I forgot." .

It also helps that you already know how to take and give phone orders when answering a surgeon's pager. You also know when it is appropriate to interrupt the surgeon, and what can wait when you see a page come through.

I definitely helped me, but I seem to be in the minority with this thinking. It is completely unlike any other kind of nursing, but I think that any experience in nursing always helps when you are looking into another field of nursing.

Sorry they called and said they wanted OR experience. Hang in there!


18 Posts

Specializes in Military/OR/Med-Surg/PICC Nurse.

I would say yes.

Mostly, it allows you to be aware of the paperwork/preparation that is expected of the patient when they are coming FROM the surgical floor. At our hospital they have a packet and a check list of things they need to do on the surgical floor before sending them to surgery. Sometimes certain things slip through the cracks (I've had to go up there an yell at them for not doing EKG's on high risk patients!) and it's good to have an awareness of what needs to be done. Also, at our hospital sometimes they will attach the patient's next dose of ABX or sometimes a SQ Heparin injection that is to be given.

Also, my background on the surgical floor gives me the contacts I need to do certain things that make me look good in front of administration. I have given the surgical floor some in-services on surgical preparation, and have gotten it approved for 1 CNE hour. Not a bad thing for the resume for teaching my old peers some simple OR stuff.

ChristineAdrianaRN, BSN, RN

1 Article; 168 Posts

Specializes in Pediatric and Adult OR. Has 7 years experience.

This has all been really helpful; thank you for your replies.

When the recruiter (who was the recruiter for all the hospitals in that system) called and said the hospital wanted OR experience, she said she'd contact me if another opportunity that fit me came up. A week later I got a call to set up an interview for a circulator and scrub nurse position at a different hospital in the system (where I guess they decided they were willing to train me)...their peds hospital! :eek: I have always done adults - peds was never even on my radar. I know this means very (understandably) anxious, scared, overbearing families. And learning how to talk to kidlets. Ack. A whole new world. But I AM really excited at the thought of trying out something so different. The OR stuff would basically be the same, except smaller.....right?? :o What the heck kinda surgeries do they do?? Obvs no lap choles or TAHs or TURPs...I know they do heart surgeries, I guess for genetic defects, and it's a level 1 trauma hospital so you've got that...cleft palate...sheesh I'm so out of practice with peds....

Phone interview with the recruiter seemed to go very well - she actually seemed impressed by the periop class I took a year ago more than, yay for that. :D

In-person interview with the manager next Monday...wish me luck! Thanks again for the feedback!


185 Posts

Specializes in OR.

One of the "best" OR nurses I have ever worked with, worked in a pediatric OR first.

She is truly admirable, and I always thought that her having the pediatric experience benefited her so much in her career

If I was beginning my OR career, I would apply to work pediatrics, lucky you, and all the best in your OR career:igtsyt:

Specializes in M/S Short Stay/TCU.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrt advice/info:D


1,221 Posts

Specializes in Peri-Op. Has 10 years experience.

you would be suprised. pedi covers up to 18 generally.... there are plenty of appys and if you have specialty GYNs that work there you may see hysterectomies, oophrectomies... etc..... you will have neuro, CV, CT, general sugery... just like in a general OR..... glad you got the opportunity, have fun with it...

ChristineAdrianaRN, BSN, RN

1 Article; 168 Posts

Specializes in Pediatric and Adult OR. Has 7 years experience.

Hysterectomies in peds?? No way! :eek: *shock and awe*