Getting a job in the OR


Hello everyone I'm getting ready to graduate here in May!!!!!!And probably like alot of you I'm trying to find my nitch or what area I want to work in. I'm really interested in OR because I just find it facinating but I can't say that I know alot about the role that the nurse does in the OR since I've only had one day in the OR. Does anybody have any comments that could help me understand it better? And also is it better to get a year or so on a med-surg floor before going into the O.R?


117 Posts

If you're not sure about the OR, I would talk to some experienced perioperative nurses, and definitely spend more time in the OR by shadowing to see if you really like it.

I'm a new grad myself (December 2005) and will start an OR internship at my hospital this coming Tuesday. I don't know a lot about the OR, but I spent over 2 years working in the ED of the same hospital, and many of the aspects I liked about the ED translate well to the OR. Am I 100% positive that I will fall in love with the OR? No, but then again, you won't know that about any position until you've tried it. If I want to transfer, it may be easier for me due to my ED experience, but it also depends on the hospital. I think unless you spend a long time in the OR (and if you do, that probably means you really like it), most people can transfer to a different area. All the specialty areas have a solid orientation at any good hospital, especially university or teaching hospitals.

Also, some experienced nurses will tell you that you should get experience in med-surg or another area before coming to the OR. I really think it's up to the individual.

Good luck!


12 Posts

I have never worked on a med surg floor and glad of it. Those nurses are generally over worked and under appreciated.

Try for the OR, ER, PACU or L&D!!

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

Don't know many ER nurses that are not overworked.

Definitely don't know many Maternity nurses that aren't overworked (they are a closed-staffing unit where i work).


31 Posts

I don't know that the inference was that OR, ER, PACU or L&D aren't overworked, maybe just that they're more rewarding or feel more appreciated.

I'd personally recommend getting ICU experience right off the bat. Many systems offer internships that allow you to get into the ICU. Most PACU settings require ICU experience, many ED positions either require or look kindly on ICU experience, etc.

I would say that many of the specialty areas seem to garner more loyalty among their nurses--OR, ED, ICU, L&D, PACU, NICU, etc.

I worked on the floor for a year before going to the OR, and did find the experience worthwhile. But, as a whole, floor nursing is very thankless.

But, as to your initial question about what OR nurses do:

Circulating nurses:

1. Are responsible for coordinating supplies and services to make the surgery run smoothly; Along with the scrub, we make sure that all of the needed instruments and supplies are open or available; We coordinate with pharmacy, central sterile, the supply dept, x-ray dept, etc.

2. Are responsible for making sure that the patient is ready to enter the OR--the consents are in place, they're NPO, don't have jewelry, etc. and double-checking to make sure that none of the patient's significant info has been overlooked (pacemaker, allergies that are applicable to surgery or post-op course, etc.)

3. Are responsible for assisting anesthesia with induction of anesthesia, blocks, IV starts, line placement, etc.

4. Take part in positioning the patient, pre-operative prep like applying SCDs; we put in foleys, do the surgical skin prep, etc.

5. Paperwork

6. You get to be the gopher during the case. (Depending on how well you know the procedures, how competent and organized your scrub is, and how "needy" the surgeon and anesthesia person are, this can range from being fun to EXHAUSTING.)

7. Helping to get things finished up--applying tape, slings, casts, immobilizers, 02 for transport, transferring monitor components and prepping patient for transport to PACU, ICU, etc.

Scrubbing is something that will really depend on where you work (as to how much you get to do it).

Being the sterile, scrubbed-in person and functioning proficiently in that role is a huge skill and is acquired with time and experience. I love to scrub (especially Ortho), but my current job doesn't affort much opportunity for me to do so. A nurse I know said this week that she'd rather scrub because "scrubbing is easier". And that is often not true. There are some times when it is very unpleasant to be the circulator (sick patients or needy Drs requiring tons of work on the part of the circulator), and there are times when scrubbing is also very demanding. Again, scrubbing WELL is a huge skill, and many who scrub aren't as good as others at planning ahead, being kind to their circulator, and keeping their surgeons happy without too much fuss and muss.

I love the working in the OR, and think that it's a great part of the nursing world.

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