How can I get this OR gig?

Specialties Operating Room


Hello! I'm a newer nurse with about 5 years total experience. Most relevant would be 2 years on a busy med/surg/onc floor. I've been in Oncology Research for the past 9 months, and have an interview for an OR residency in like 2 weeks. I'm super nervous because I really want this job. Any nurse managers out there have any pointers on how I can land this job and/or stand out in a sea of other applicants?

Hi, I'm in an OR residency right now. The program requires a lot of learning (and studying outside of work). You have to learn everybody's roles (med student, vendors, residents, surgeons, scrub tech, xray tech, etc.), a new charting system, all the procedures, multiple trays for each procedure, how to clean the room properly, how to stock a room, how to remain ASEPTIC AND STERILE, how to pass instruments, how to load sutures/staple guns, how to troubleshoot EVERYTHING. My interview process had 3-4 different rounds and at each round someone always asked a question about troubleshooting equipment. For example, one question was: Have you ever set up a piece of equipment WITHOUT instructions? I used IKEA furniture as an example. When you're in the OR, you may not have the instructions for a piece of equipment you've only used once or twice, or you may not have the time to read the instructions if it is a trauma or emergent situation... so they want to know that you are 'tech savvy' and can troubleshoot a piece of equipment under pressure. Another thing is that you have to be extremely organized. Being in the OR is very similar to a code on the floors in the sense that you need to note the "Time" for everything. What time you came into the room, what time the med student came in the room and what time they LEFT the room, the time the surgeon made an incision, the time you made the initial instrument count, the time the surgeon closed the wound, the time of the final instrument count, the time you are leaving the room with the patient. Etc.... Just to name a few things ha! I would emphasize that you are ready to learn, can "MacGiver" things, and enjoy working on a team. In the OR you cannot do anything alone so communication is key.

Wow, this is very interesting! I enjoyed reading your post! I will be starting the OR residency mid August! i am really excited to start! These tips have been very helpful for me!

Hello KNB3715, I made the jump from med-surg to OR about 7 years ago and have never looked back. I have done many peer interviews and it was eye-opening to hear the responses from the job candidate. Our favorite questions were, "Why do you want to be a circulator?" and "Can you tell me basic duties of a circulator?" Yes, I know those sound like silly, basic questions, but it allowed us to see whether or not the person understood what an OR circulator actually does. Many prospective candidates, especially new graduates, really do not know what happens behind the double doors of the OR. That's ok to a point. We do not expect you to know the in's-and-out's of the job, but a job seeker should have the basic understanding of the position they are interviewing for.

Your basic nursing skills from med-surg are applicable, but truly I would focus more on your communication skills, being a team player, taking directions well, and being an advocate. Circulators are big advocates for the patient (they can't speak for themselves while anesthetized, right?!) While working in an OR, the RN is part of a team - surgeon, scrub tech or another RN who scrubs, and CRNA and/or anesthesiologist will also be in the room. Communicating well with each other is imperative.

Also be prepared to possibly answer questions about dealing with strong personalities and taking criticism well. We tend to ask the job seeker a question or two about handling difficult situations. ORs can be high stress places with strong personality people, but it is so interesting and I learn something new everyday. Hope this helps in some way. Good luck!

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