Is OR nursing a good start for a new grad?

Specialties Operating Room Nursing Q/A

Hello everyone! I just graduated nursing school about 3 weeks ago. Think I have a pretty good chance at landing a position as an operating room nurse. I had the opportunity to observe a fee surgeries while in nursing school and I got the impression that the RN really wasn't as responsible for as much as say a floor nurse. Being a new grad I really just want to take a position that will give me a great bit of experience. The OR does sound like a wonderful start I just would hate to take the position and regret it due to not having enough hands on learning in this crucial time. Thanks in advance for any one who can offer advice or suggestions ?

17 Answers

Specializes in teaching, research, and evidence-based practice.

I don't see why not. We need to get out of the mindset that all new grads need to start in a specific setting or have a certain amount of experience in one area to practice in another. It also depends on your goals. Do you want to be an OR nurse?  

Most practice areas, including the OR, have an orientation process based on level of experience. This could range from new grad to 20 years of experience. When I started working in critical care, I went through an extensive orientation process even though I already had many years of experience as a nurse. So, I was oriented more as a "new grad" even though I was already an experienced nurse. 

When I worked as a hospital nurse educator, each of our service lines (med/surg, critical care, OR, etc.) had different pathways for orientation depending on experience and most of them, including the OR, had a pathway for new grads. Check with the hiring organization to see if new grads can apply for positions in the OR. Especially if this is where you want to work!  

Specializes in O.R.,E.R.,Rehab,Brain Injured, Spinal.

Hey I totally agree with the top post; however, the O.R's the only place I wish to be when I finish school. I will be entering a Pre-Op program as soon as I graduate. I am currently a PCT in a rehabilitation hospital. As a tech that floats around to all floors, I see more and more why I wish to to be an O.R. Nurse. I've worked the O.R. as an instrument tech for nearly five years before deciding to become an nurse. I went the PCT route to get knowledge of nursing and that has helped a lot. The one thing (of several) I've noticed from the O.R. vs floor Nursing is the stress. O.R. Nursing stress levels seem to be a whole lot less than that of floor nursing stress dealing with Dr., patient(s) and family member(s) stress. Yes, part of the role as a nurse is to receive some of that stress as with any role, but if you can help dodge the've also done your job as well. I only speak of what I've seen, heard experienced from a PCT level, but as a person studying the role, you can pretty much put two and two together.

Just my opinion though...good luck on your decision.

Specializes in OR, Nursing Professional Development.

I started in the OR as a new grad, but I had a very supportive and long orientation period. Whether a new grad can fly in the OR or not depends on the grad, the orientation, and the staff already working in the OR. Let's face it, there are some "special" personalities in the OR.

I also wouldn't say that an OR nurse has less responsibility than a floor nurse. The responsibilities are simply different. You wouldn't say that a floor nurse has less responsibility than a telemetry nurse because she/he isn't watching all those cardiac monitors, would you? It's comparing apples and oranges.

Simply watching a "few" surgeries during nursing school isn't really enough to decide whether or not OR nursing is for you. One thing I've noticed with students is that they concentrate onwatching the surgery, and don't really watch what the nurse is doing. Depending on the case, it may seem that the nurse is simply sitting there playing on the computer, but a good OR nurse is also paying attention to the field to anticipate any needed extra supplies, monitoring the sterile field for any breaks in aseptic technique, and generally keeping eyes and ears open for any changes. Even the simplest of cases can turn into a nightmare at any moment- like a laparoscopic appendectomy where the surgeon puts a hole in the iliac artery when inserting the trocars, or the critical patients who bottom out from the anesthesia drugs and suddenly you're in a code situation.

If you really want to investigate whether OR nursing is truly for you, either try to do your senior practicum/capstone/whatever your school calls it in the OR, or shadow an OR nurse for several days. And instead of paying all of your attention to what the surgeon is doing, watch the nurse.

Specializes in geriatrics.

If you think OR nurses aren't as busy as floor nurses, you're mistaken. It's an expanded role, and many OR nurses have some experience working a floor first. I worked full time in the OR during my last year of nursing school. In some ways, yes, the OR isn't as physically taxing as a med floor, but there are days when you're scrubbed in for 9 hours straight. If you've had a clinical placement in the OR, and if you are enrolled in an OR course, then I would say yes, a new grad could be successful in the OR. Otherwise, it's probably not wise. You should have acquired certain skills going into this setting.

I would agree with 'joanna73'. You should have the skills you get only by working on a floor before going on to a unit. Even if just for 1 year- it makes you a much better nurse in my opinion when you have aquired skills that you only get on a floor- organization, learning how to handle different emergencies, how to help your coworkers, time management etc. Working in OR will limit your skills- you will learn to be good in OR, but that is a very limited skill area. I have worked in OR, so I am well aware of how limited it is. Get more skills first. I realize in todays job market you may have to take what you can, though. Best of luck.

Specializes in ICU.

I wouldnt recomend it unless you want to get pidgeon holed into that specialty. Its exactly that, a specialty that is very specific. If thats your dream job sure go for it, but if you wanted to transition out it could be tough. Yes you will gain a lot of skills but its very specific to that kind of work. You would loose other skills. But some people are meant to work OR, not me. But just understand, the longer your there, the harder it will be to get out. I like my job because I have a large skill set. I float through out almost the entire hospital except OR. I do all the critical care areas and I love it for the variety. Just think very hard before you decide. But like the other poster said, if you dont have a choice, you gotta do it.

Specializes in NICU.

ANY start is a good start for a new grad. Most are having trouble getting any type of job.

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

I can't imagine our OR even considering New Grads. Everything always specifies a certain amount of experience they would like to have usuall coming from ICU or PACU.

Specializes in geriatrics.

That's different, though than a new grad thinking OR would be ideal. You have some experience working in an 0R, so you have some familiarity with that environment. I am not in the OR right now, but after having worked med floors and spending 5 months in the OR, I know that's where I want to be eventually.

Specializes in EMT, ER, Homehealth, OR.

I do not believe any speciality area is good for a new grad. New grads need to learn their basic skills before when they get out of school, even nurses who were LPN's before becoming RN's. I did this and glad I went to the floor before moving on, there are things which you do not do or think of as a LPN which you need to know as a RN. Also, a area which looks interesting and where you want to work in school might end up being something you hate and if you do not have basic skills it is hard to move to another area.

My friend just got hired at a Banner facility, new grad yes it said, and they have a pretty extensive training program. I would do it if you have an "in" because once you get a year experience then all the other doors can open up for you.

Thanks so much for everyone's advice. You all have definitely helped me in my decision. I am going to try to take a position on a med-surg first. Where I am locate there are plenty of nursing positions available and I don't think I will have any difficulty. At Joanna73's comment....I was not implying that OR nurses are not as busy. What I ment was it seemed as if it was a different kind of busy. Like everyone mentioned, I was concerned about not getting the experience and skills down pack if I limit myself to the OR at first. I have had rotations in the OR, ER, NICU, ICU, OB, Oncology, Med-surg, telemetry, and neuro units. The impression I got from OR nursing was that the anesthesiologist was responsible for more of the patient care an monitoring than the nurse. I very well could be wrong. I love the patient care aspect of nursing and helping people. So I don't believe the OR is somewhere I would want to stay forever. And yes this specific hospital does hire new grads for the OR with a 6 month orientation. Thanks again to everyone who responded! Have a great day :)

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