Movement within the hospital after the OR



I am a new OR RN (4 months) and appreciate the dedication it takes to be in this specialty. I definitely want to stay where I am with the understanding that it takes quite a bit of time to be comfortable in the OR. I am also a recent graduate and worked in ambulatory surgery after nursing school.

My questions is this...I feel like I am missing the Med/Surg experience that familiarizes a new nurse with procedures, time management and general knowledge. Is there the potential to move into a more general area after several years in the OR? I love learning all that the OR has to offer, but I don't want to limit myself in the future by not having the floor RN experience. Is it difficult to go from the OR to another unit?

canesdukegirl, BSN, RN

Specializes in Trauma Surgery, Nursing Management. Has 14 years experience. 8 Articles; 2,543 Posts

A friend of mine was in your same dilemma a few years ago. She loved the OR and was accepted into a highly competitive OR nurse resident position. However, much like you, she felt that she needed to get some experience on med/surg and she went for it. She was immediately accepted onto a busy med/surg floor and got the experience of caring for cancer pts, post-ops, learned how to do charge for med/surg, learned all kinds of meds and gained a wider view of how a multi-disciplinary team worked together. She learned decedent care (which you can also learn in the OR, but you generally don't deal with families), learned how to interact with Social Workers, familiarized herself with taking off and signing off on orders. She commented that she was relieved that she didn't forget how to do a general assessment, how to manage time and how to delegate.

I don't think you will have any problems at all transferring to a med/surg unit. You may not be offered the same rate of pay-and I say that only because my facility pays OR nurses on average $4-5 more/hr than floor nurses because it is specialized. This may not be the case across the board...I just wanted to mention that so you won't be surprised if that is the case at your facility.

It is always appropriate to gain more knowledge, so if you feel strongly about it, do it! The beauty of our profession is that we can always go down a different path. Good luck to you!



2 Posts

Truth is after a lifetime in surgery 36 yrs, with the layoffs and lack of positions in our town in calif, med surg is out of the question , you become cornered into being a surgery nurse and they won't consider you capable of med surg nursing.even with prison clinical and hospital med surg experience last 2 yrs, they told me that isn't med surg nursing ...even though i told them i cared for termininally ill, developmentally disabled and diseases never encountereed often at hospitals i.e., als ,huntingtons disease ,end stage liver failure, on and on... The corporate hospital nurse interviewers are shopping around for nurse's here in calif.... So my suggestion is if you are new around 2 yrs or so in the o.r., now is the time to get out and get into med surg you can work your later years on the floor but not surgery and it's stressing trauma calls ,it will kill you, a lifetime career in the end of career you will be discriminated from or's due to your age, forget being given any re-entry positions to the floor or other depts... I have a stack of rave personnel reviews ,drs letters, supv reviews ... The hospitals are pick and choose these days out here, for every job 200 show up and apply........older nurses aee being discriminated against and hospitals don't care about experienced skills... For all you who wave the nurse flag and will say well thats not my experience , obviously you have not been around and have no deep experience at other institutions and are a one town ,one hospital mindset... Others like us do... Wave your flags.....yea nursing, lets get rid of older nurses is/was my experience , such respect by the younger administrators and those that interview you!!!!!


solneeshka, BSN, RN

Specializes in PACU, Surgery, Acute Medicine. Has 13 years experience. 292 Posts

You are not blocking yourself out of the opportunity to do med-surg eventually. The truth is that it would be better to get the med-surg experience first, right out of school, so that those skills do get solidified. But even if you don't, nurses change around fields all the time, even out of the OR to floor roles. Don't sweat it. In the OR, you will still get practice with foleys, wound care, some amount of assessment, interacting with other members of the healthcare team. Now, if you wait for decades and decades to do it, it could be more difficult. But all industries, including nursing, are moving away from the model where workers have one job for their entire career. You'll be fine! And you may discover that med-surg isn't where you want to go after the OR, anyway. PACU nurses use many of the same skills, but in a different environment. You're wise to be thinking along these lines, but if you are a strong worker, you won't have a problem.