Need advice for possible transfer


I've only been a nurse for two years - the last eight months or so on an ortho unit which I've loved. Last June my dad went in for a liver resection and was in the SICU for three months before he passed away. I've found that its been REALLY hard doing pt care because everything reminds me of him. And not in a good rose-tinted childhood memory way. Almost everything I do, I wonder - did someone do this for him? I'm just obsessing over his last three months.

The worst has been - there's been an ETOHer here for 1.5 months with Wernicke-Korsakoff and every time I come in and see he's still here, I get a feeling of "what is HE still doing here?!?" and I think about how many nurses must have thought that about my dad.

So now I'm wondering if I should transfer to a unit where I don't have as much direct pt contact to bring up these thoughts and my first idea was the OR. But now I'm second guessing that and worrying it will be too boring. The problem is I've been told I'm very good with my patients. So do I do what I'm good at and what people need me for but what is very emotionally hard for me or do I move to something more detatched and clinical? And what can I expect from OR nursing? Is there a lot of variety? Are you really a slave to the surgeon?

Sorry to dump for a first post. I have an interview next week for an OR position and I really need advice before I go into it. Thank you for any help or advice you can throw my way.



CrufflerJJ, RN

1 Article; 1,023 Posts

Specializes in ICU. Has 5 years experience.

Does your employer have any sort of Employee Assistance Plan (EAP)? If so, you might want to get with them and talk over your thoughts about your dad's death, and how you're concerned that it is starting to affect your ability to provide patient care.

Transferring to a different department may provide a short term fix, but the underlying trauma (your dad's death) will still remain.


2 Posts

Specializes in Ortho. Has 2 years experience.

The best way I've thought of to explain it is - what if your dad died in a tragic ice cream accident and you worked at Cold Stone Creamery? Silly, I know. But you'd be constantly reminded of what happened all day long - it's not a matter of getting over it or not. It's like a band aid ripping open the wound every day.

I just went through the last 20 pages in the OR board and am even more convinced now that OR may not be for me. But I don't know where else to look...

CrufflerJJ, RN

1 Article; 1,023 Posts

Specializes in ICU. Has 5 years experience.

Your feelings of being 'constantly reminded of what happened all day long" sounds an awful lot like post-traumatic stress flashbacks. I'm not a psych person, nor did I stay at Holiday Inn Express last night. Before going into nursing, I did, however, run volunteer EMS for 19 years and saw lots of "stuff."

Critical Incident Stress Debriefings were invaluable not so much in terms of helping me "get over it", as allowing me to gain insight into why I felt the way I did.

I wish you luck!


151 Posts

I can relate. There is a reason I do not work oncology and have no desire to do so. Certainly it could be a very rewarding specialty, but to me, cancer=what took my dad from me.

Best of luck to you.


185 Posts

Specializes in OR.

The OR is ever changing.

I have worked in the OR for a number of years and have never ever found it boring.

There are changes from day to day, policy, procedure and technical equipment.

The patient contact with an awake patient may be minimal but you are with the

patient for some of the most critical events they may face. You have an opportunity

to support, teach, and be the best patient advocate possible.

It is all about anticipating events and this is ongoing.. from the scrub nurse role e.g.: Ortho knowing the steps of a total hip,

total knee, spinal system, or trauma set, to the circulating role, advocating for the patient, anticipating the needs of the whole OR team and assisting the anesthetist during all of the critical times.

You will see every variety of patient, and will always see patients that will bring back certain memories.. but you will not be looking after the same patient for days upon end.

AndyPantsRN, I really hope that you can get through this difficult time you are having at work, and remember sometimes that the "tincture of time" is the best remedy... I don't know if a change is what you need, anyway, I wish you all the best, take care, and try to move on.

If it is to the OR, I don't think you will find it "boring"

Did I Mention, I Love The OR!:yes:


18 Posts

If you decide to make a change in your specialty the OR is a great place to work ... but not for everyone. I also work in a county jail as a nurse which is completely different form both the OR and the floor. If you look around you will find many specialties that can hopefully get you back into the game. School nurse? :)