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New Grad RN in the OR feeling discouraged... Need advice

YelenaRN YelenaRN (New) New

Hello Everyone! Thanks to everyone in advance for your response. So I have been working as a New Grad RN in the OR for about 3.5 months. At first I was super psyched about the position and well now... I am starting to feel super discouraged. I feel like I am not catching onto things as fast as I would like to and I get this weird vibe that the senior staff notice that I am not. I feel as if they compare me to the others that were hired on with me, whom have experience as an RN ranging from 8 months to 10 years (I am the only "fresh new grad" that was hired). Sometimes I receive snarky remarks such as "they really shouldn't hire new grads into the OR." Anyways, on top of all that management seems anxious to get us to be on our own. I am at a lost as to what to do? I take notes on surgeon preferences, room setup, etc. But I just don't know... somethings are just not clicking with me. Somedays I honestly question if I am cut out for the OR. It makes me sad because I had a great outlook coming in but now it is starting to dwindle. To those of you experienced OR nurses... is it normal to feel this way? At what point should I be proficient at things? At what point were you able to run a room by yourself? Also any words of encouragement are welcomed (and very much needed :cry:) Thank you!

Rose_Queen specializes in OR, education.

There's a reason orientation for OR nursing is one of the longest out there. It's going to take at least a year for you to feel competent and confident in your job. That can actually be said for all nursing specialties.

So, what is your orientation like? How long were you told it would be? Are there clearly spelled out expectations? Are you setting goals for yourself and evaluating them? Getting feedback from your preceptor and the educator? Doing your homework?

Read through this thread and see what you can take from it to help you be successful.

No matter where you go (floor or OR) you will always have some doubt at first. It's normal and it will pass. After my 6month orientation, I worked with one of the meanest surgeons in my OR. Thankfully it was just for lunch shifts but I still had to give myself pep talks before I even stepped in his room. As i scrubbed in, I would tell myself I could do it and reiterate his way of doing things. I did this for months until one day I scrubbed in without the pep talk and was perfectly fine. The takeaway from this is that you too will be stronger, it just takes time. Just focus on each day. Give yourself pep talks and look at the cases you will do the day before and think about what you might need. A big skill in the OR is too anticipate things before they happen. So start thinking, think about what the surgeon likes or dislikes, what they usually request, and if things went horribly wrong what you might need to get.

I entered the OR as a new grad and I also have heard those sayings but don't let that get you down. Keep your head up and anticipate the needs. If that doesn't help you, I also know a nurse who was told she was "never gonna make it in the OR" and she became an amazing OR nurse and is currently an NP/First Assist now. Best of luck

Thank for your response and advice. I really appreciate it. Coming in I was told that we would have one year of training but the expectations are kind of shaky. At one point the manager has told me that she really doesn't expect us to function independently for a whole year and at another point she has asked us if we could be expected to run a room by ourselves in a month or so (which makes me nervous). So I am not quite sure what their expectation are because we are getting contradicting messages. As far as preceptors I have a different preceptor everyday, which has both positive and negative aspects. During a case I usually take notes and then when I get home I add anything additional by studying the Alexander Surgery book. Is there anything specifically that you recommend as far as homework? TIA

Thank you Scrubulator for your kind word of encouragement! Sometimes it so hard not to feel isolated in your feelings. I am glad that we have this online community here to come to. Is there anything that you specifically did as a new grad to develop that skill of anticipation in the OR?

I was a new grad not all that long ago and feeling like a lost sheep once I hit the floor. I couldn't control the learning curve (more like climbing Mt. Everest with a gas station map), but I could control my attitude. I got psyched up every day I went to work, determined to be better each time, and I got better. If the comments were constructive, I took it to heart, if the comments were snarky, I brushed them off, and if they crossed the line, I confronted the person immediately and defined where the line was and what I considered crossing that line. The people making the snarky comments have long forgotten what their first shift was like - in their photoshop enhanced memories they performed miracles fresh out of school and were never the wide-eyed, completely lost newbie that they really were.

I am not a new grad nor an OR nurse, but I thought I'd like to pipe in. First, I am very sad and sorry to hear that you have colleagues that are trying to tear you down instead of bring you up with statements like, "They really shouldn't hire new grads." These people forget: They started somewhere too! I'm so tired of the hate in this world. Please, don't listen to those people.

Second, I work in oncology. I am being serious when I tell you that it took me two years to reach an acceptable level of comfort. As a second-career nurse, I questioned my career change every day for two years! (I still do sometimes, but that's a different subject). Just remember that you are not alone at all. And 3.5 months is not a long time at all. Like I said, don't listen to the haters.

Maevish specializes in ICU, Postpartum, Onc, PACU.

OOOOH comments like that make me so mad!! I sometimes hear the same things in ICU. Sure, a new grad isn't ideal for ANY nursing position in reality, but everyone has to start somewhere and even the best nurses knew nothing at one point!

You can't rightly compare yourself to someone who has 10 years of experience and if other nurses are making you feel this way (and you think there might actually be a learning delay), GO TO YOUR MANAGER. Good managers and Clinical Nurse Specialists want you to go to them when you have a problem. Maybe the other nurses are right, but they could be very wrong. I know first hand that ICU is tough (and I was a nurse for a year before I switched) and I've heard good OR orientations are 6 month minimums and stretch to a year-and-a-half at some places!

It's an odd, wonderful world in OR and things don't come overnight, no matter what other nurses there might say.

If there's an issue, you want to know about it so you can try to fix it, but if you're just normal...they should be able to tell you that as well. When I first graduated, I was sick to my stomach for the first 6 months on the floor... you feel like you don't know enough for a reason: you don't lol


I am a OR nurse and have been for 9 years but when I was hired I didn't have any OR experience. It takes atleast 6 months to train as circulator but longer than that to feel comfortable . I work with two nurses that still have to ask me questions or ask for help and have trained over a year. Keep your head up and try not to take things too personal. Things can get intense in the operating room. I think it's best to have one main preceptor so they can keep up with what you have been taught or not. The surgeons I work with and the staff love that I pay attention and think ahead . It takes time but just try always thinking ahead. You will learn everyday. Keeping notes is good. Also you should be able to look at the preference cards for tips for every case. Best of luck to you. I've been a nurse 18 years and OR is the best.

I did my senior preceptorship in the OR for 5 months and now I have been hired by the same hospital. I've been here two months as a staff RN and I thought it would get better than it was as a student. Turns out it's worse. I feel like no one respects me. Surgeons act like children and throw tantrums. Coworkers talk about each other constantly in disrespectful manners. In fact, my supervisor has to speak with us on three occasions during morning report because of the constant bullying and harassment. It's like I'm back in grade school. Everyone says it gets better within a year or so. Hang in there if you really want it and if it's not completely ruining your mental health. Just keep in mind everyone has a hard time in the beginning!

Thank you everyone for sharing your experience! It definitely makes me feel better about my whole situation. I've been taking all of your advice taking notes and doing my "homework" outside of work. Things are looking up and I'm starting to see light in my situation. I ran a room all by myself the other day and I was amazed by what I knew when I was alone with little help... It's like I didn't know I had that knowledge in me haha. Thank you guys so much for your words of encouragement!


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