New OR RN questioning everything...need advice!


Hi all! I am writing today seeking advice from some unbiased people in the nursing world. So, I graduated nursing school this past Spring in the midst of the pandemic (yay!) and landed my first job as an RN in the OR. I started over the Summer and I am still on orientation, but will be finishing up in the next month and a half-ish. I chose the OR because I didn’t really care for floor nursing and, honestly, I was kind of burned out on the floor already from working as a PCT through nursing school. It’s not so much that I don’t like that type of nursing, but I know the staffing issues are rampant which severely takes away from the job. I was also interested in the surgical world of nursing as it is completely different from anything I have done before and I enjoy learning new things. The OR schedule was also appealing to me as weekend and holiday requirements are just on-call hours and I would be on 10-hour shifts, four days a week. All of these things came together and really pulled me into the OR world, and I ended up here. 
Here is where things get a little sticky. Surgeries have been cut back pretty significant again (thanks, Covid) so I, along with some of the other OR new hires and staff, have been doing task nursing on our covid units and ICUs to fill in our scheduling gaps. Doing task nursing has made me do some self reflection. I have been doing it a little over a month now, which has set my orientation period back pretty significantly. Working on these units has sort of made me miss the patient interactions that I had working on the floor as a PCT and during my student RN clinical time. In the OR, patient interaction is pretty limited and I am definitely missing that quite a bit. I have also realized that I don’t really feel like I fit in with the OR crowd. While I have become pretty efficient at the job duties and what not, I am just unsure if I can see myself here long term. It sometimes feels catty and stuff spreads like a wildfire here. I can’t help but feel a little uneasy at times and like I am constantly being judged. Finally, I don’t really feel like a “nurse” since working in the OR. I sort of feel more like a robot and I have found myself also missing the medical side of nursing. 
I guess my dilemma is this: I feel kind of guilty and bad that I am just now discovering these things and I don’t really know how to bring it up with my managers. I am getting close to being off orientation and I fear that I will receive backlash for not figuring this out sooner. If I do choose to leave, they will have to start from square one with a new hire to fill my position that I am currently training for, which makes me feel guilty. Additionally, if I bring this to their attention I imagine they will tell me I cannot continue my orientation, which would put me out of a job, which is not exactly an option at this time as my husband recently lost his job and I am our insurance provider. I know this would be the likely outcome because it happened with someone else I know on orientation.
I know this is a lot to unpack, but I just need some advice. I can’t really talk to anyone at work about it because of all the gossip. I have talked to my friends a little about it, but they are not in the medical field so they just don’t quite understand. Looking forward to hearing what everyone has to say! 🙂

Edited by babyRNinabigworld


6,091 Posts

Not to state the overly obvious, but it's probably wise to reflect heavily on the fact that there are going to be pros and cons to any work setting or specialty. The patient interaction you are missing right now might be the thing that brings you to your knees two months after beginning a med/surg job, if you were to do that. So take some time to think about your personality, the things you like best about nursing so far, etc. Make a real list of pros and cons related to your possible choices.


24 minutes ago, babyRNinabigworld said:

I guess my dilemma is this: I feel kind of guilty and bad that I am just now discovering these things and I don’t really know how to bring it up with my managers. I am getting close to being off orientation and I fear that I will receive backlash for not figuring this out sooner. If I do choose to leave, they will have to start from square one with a new hire to fill my position that I am currently training for, which makes me feel guilty.

I think it is wise to be middle-of-the-road about this aspect. On the one hand yes, it seems good to keep your word, to follow through and have some perseverance, to recognize an investment that has been made by your employer. On the other hand, going overboard with respect to guilt, feelings of obligation, etc will have you ending up angry if you run your life that way. You will resent others for what you get in return. After all, you signed up to learn OR work and to work in the OR and before you could even get off orientation you've been summarily reassigned according to someone else's needs. Yes it's a pandemic, but you were also hired to train for OR and work in the OR during that time; it isn't as if this possibility was unforeseen by them. So, you have to balance your sense of obligation with other factors, including your own personal satisfaction.

To me the first step would be thinking carefully and coming to some sort of understanding with yourself as far as what you feel about OR nursing itself. Then you'll just have to work it all through in your mind and come to a decision that gives you peace and balances ethics with your own desires.


Thanks for the input! Yeah no job is perfect, that’s for sure. I guess I started getting concerned when I was on a task nursing shift and the thought of going back to the OR gave me a small sense of dread for some reason. I have to admit, I am a little disappointed with how management has handled our task nursing situation. I was hired to train in the OR on day shift and we have been shifted to other hospital areas against our will. In a matter of 48 hours, we went from being told we might have to do task nursing to make up our missing hours to we have to do task nursing overnight ONLY for weeks at a time. Kind of disturbing, and I have been told now that this is not uncommon behavior from management in our department. I guess this combination of their actions and my feelings has lead me here. A lot to think about. And I agree, guilt is never a good enough reason alone to stay in a job. Thanks again for the input! 
Ps, sorry for the mini rant 😂 

juan de la cruz, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in APRN, Adult Critical Care, General Cardiology. Has 30 years experience. 9 Articles; 4,328 Posts

I would not make an abrupt decision.  The times we're in right now are not normal.  There are things that are happening in our respective specialties that is new to all of us even nurses who have been in the profession for years.  You are still on orientation, technically to both areas (OR and floor nursing).  I would say you haven't quite gotten a full taste of what it really means to work in both areas.  I would let things happen for now and let the COVID dust setttle once it does settle (without catching it, LOL), then make a self-assessment of what kind of nurse you really want to be.

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 15years medical. Has 43 years experience. 1 Article; 9,488 Posts

1 hour ago, babyRNinabigworld said:

 I just need some advice.

it sounds like through a lot of tis in flux right now, babyRNinabigworld, and you are endeavoring to make a constant in a situation with a lot of variables. Planning ahead is a good thing, but who knows which roads are going to be open to take?

My advice would be to let go and the fates will show you the way. Go with the flow and ride with the tide.

Gee, I just saw that juan de la cruz replied and his advice is about the same as mine without all the similes.

Okay, here's an example from experience. I broke into nursing and worked as a psych LPN for 2 1/2 years, desiring to transfer to the medical side. I landed a position in OR, was all thumbs at first, and then became a quite good scrub nurse. I was laid off after about a year, in the second big layoff the hospital had, being more expendable in the OR than an RN.

Two weeks later, the hospital contacted me and offered me a position in a new inpatient CD treatment unit that was to open. "Aw geez", I said to myself, "not psych again!"

But I accepted the position with a bad attitude and it turned out to be one of, if not the best, positions I ever held. I could bore you to tears with all the things that I learned and did.

So basically what I'm saying babyRNinabigworld, is you never know which position will turn out to be the goose that laid the golden egg.

Good luck!