First week of orientation finished... feeling overwhelmed!


Specializes in medical, surgery/ob-gyn/urology.

Well my first week of orientation is done, and for the most part I have just been watching and helping with a few minor things... I am feeling so overwhelmed right now.. its a totally different world! It feels like I may as well have not even gone to nursing school or worked on the floor for that matter, because nothing I have learned really seems like it applies to much right now other than my assessments of the patient.... How long does it take to learn all the different tools and body positions, prepping, etc? I feel so lost, yet I know it was just the end of my first week... They told me I will have atleast half a year to a full year of training before they will put me on my own... everyone else that has been there about a year seems to " get" it....

For those of you that are circulators, do you remember how long it took you to learn the basics? To feel somewhat comfortable in your job? To learn the basic tools and equipment, set ups, etc?

Thanks in advance! I dont know if anyone else felt this exact way, but any advice/stories, etc would be helpful!


Specializes in Surgery. 92 Posts

I am off of my orientation Monday and it has taken me a year and 5 months to be on my own..Scrubbing for a year and learning to circulate for 5 months..It takes time..Just take one step at a time..I am a person who gets frustrated if I dont get something the first time but I had to teach myself that I couldnt learn all of this quick and it just takes time..You will do great..Goodluck on everything!

Marie_LPN, RN, LPN, RN

Specializes in 5 yrs OR, ASU Pre-Op 2 yr. ER. 12,126 Posts

How long does it take to learn all the different tools and body positions, prepping, etc?

It can take different times for different people. But one day, it'll just click that something used to intimidate you, and you realize that it doesn't anymore. Just think that with each thing "It may seem overwhelming right now, but i WILL get through this and it'll be a piece of cake."


174 Posts

Hi Happylush, I just finished my 2nd full time week of orientation in the OR and i feel overwhelmed like you do. Before we had 4 days a week in class and 1 day in the OR. Now its all full time orientation for the next 5 months before we're on our own. I can't seem to get what position the bed is supposed to be in, when they're going to use the C-Arm. I don't understand all the positions, which procedures to put pillows under the knees, if arms are to be tucked or on an arm board, where to put safety straps, where to position the ESU aka Bovi (at head of bed or at feet of bed), what to use for preps and what areas need to be prepped and how far up or down to prep. All the different tools, instruments, implants, paperwork, equipment, electronics, supplies, etc. There is so much stuff to learn and memorize. I'm scared to death of not getting it. Also our hospital's preference cards totally suck. Everyone complains about them especially the surgeons. How in the world are new people supposed to know exactly what the surgeon's want or need if the preference cards are not correct. You're not alone Happylush, my fellow classmates all feel the same way and 2 of them have been nurses for 20 years. We all feel lost and overwhelmed. The OR is a totally different world. I wish you luck and hopefully we can all make it through. Keep us all updated. This is a great place to share your feelings and experiences. Take care!



Specializes in OR. 159 Posts

Hi, I also just finished the first week of my program. I feel fortunate that I was a student nurse intern in the OR for 10 months before becomming an RN and getting into the program. I, at least, feel comfortable around the language and the environment. However, I am amazed at all the things I do not know! Thought I would know more.

As an intern I put in foleys, applied leg squeezers and Bair huggers and helped transport and position the patients. But just in the first week of the program alone, there are so many things that I just did not see before. And I am nervous too.

The people I have talked to that have completed the program say it takes a while before they feel comfortable in their position. I spoke to an RN who has been in the OR for 15 years and she said "I still learn something new every day."


44 Posts

OR nursing is very different (obviously) hate to be cliche` but you either love it or hate it. The trick is figuring this out early on. I was a student scrub in Nursing school for two years and went straight into the OR after getting my license. I can say what I've found that helps (this is counterintuitive) stick to a service early on (ortho, gyno etc...) and become expert at it. Once you start being able to really understand a service the other services will start to make sense. It's sort of like training your mind to look at things from a more surgical point of view rather than nursing.

I think it's hard to look at Operating Room nursing as directly caring for the patient (like on the floor), rather as a very important link in the chain of care.

BTW I love working in the Operating room.


Specializes in NICU, ER, OR. Has 18 years experience. 1,116 Posts

I. am. so . happy. I found this board.........

anyway, the reason why I am so happy, is because I can see that there are people who are in my same position. I am feeling the saaame way. I have been in orientation about 7 months, and I still am overwhelmed at the things I have not done. (and some things I have ). It does take time. You will get it, but you have to do the same type procedures several times. And that old saying "do one see one teach one" is bull, when it comes to circulating. I must be slow, cause I need to see about 4-5 before I can "do it"... lol... I remember when stupid things used to intimidate me, like gloving the attending, passing suture, even talking to the docs, putting the bovie ON was a big accomplishment for me. Now, those things come natural, as the will for you, but their are still other things that intimidate me, because I have never done them!!!!

I agree with you about the non use of our nursing skills... thats what frustrates me the most (like, I should be able to breeze through it, I thought at first)......most of it is all organization, knowing what to use for what procedures, where things are, machine operation, positioning a pt, etc..... things that individually, are simple, but add them all together for all the various procedures, and well, you have at least a 9 month to a year orientation!!!! Theres a reason for that!!! It takes time to get it!!!! It took me weeks just to get the flow down.,... bovie, suction, headlight, the prep, and everything that I should do first.... anesthesia, their role, I just didnt get it as soon as I thought I would.... but id DOES click.Just not everything at once!!!! I am nowhere near ready to be on my own, but I have come so far. Before a preceptor wouldnt leave the room for a bathroom break. Now, we relieve eachother for lunches. Come here for questions and concernes. You will get all your questions asked, and encouragement, and also what I got, the knowledge that I am not 'slow" , that there are people in my same boat!!!!

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