Newbie with Questions



I am sorry if this is a dumb question, but I am not a nurse, but am taking my pre-req to apply to nursing school and I always wanted to work in the operating room.

1) Is there a difference between a medical/surgical nurse vs an operating room nurse?

2) How do I know if this is really something I could handle? What I mean is how do I know that I could handle being in the OR? Am I able to shadow without even being a student?

Thanks in advance!

Specializes in Peri-op/Sub-Acute ANP.

OK, I am not asking this to be mean, and no question is a dumb question, but how do you know you want to be an OR nurse if you don't know what either an OR nurse or medical-surgical nurse actually does? I think it is very reasonable for you to be curious and interested, but I wouldn't be so quick to make a decision about what area of nursing you want to work in without having the benefit of any experience at all.

OR nursing is very different from working on 'the floor'. Once you get to nursing school you will be spending time on the medical-surgical floor, and possibly even spending time in the OR if your school provides for that. Once you get in to NS let your professors know that you are interesting in possibly working in the OR, and they may be able to arrange for a shadow for you to give you some idea.

The best advice I can give you at this stage is to work hard. Get into a good nursing school, and then focus on seeing and experiencing as many different specialties as you can before deciding on which one you would like to go into post-graduation. You might be surprised to find out that what you think you want to go into now changes completely once you have experienced a few different specialties. Something may just 'grab' you that you never thought would. It would be a shame to focuss too soon before allowing yourself a sneak peak at what is available to you. Honestly, try to keep your options open and you will be surprised.

Good luck!


104 Posts

Well, I was the same as you before I got into nursing school. I had ALWAYS wanted to work OB, and that's what my entire focus was while in NS, I even did my 200 Preceptor hours on L&D in my last semester and applied for a job. It ended up that they only had night positions available and I could not do that, and no other hospitals in my area had any OB openings. I then decided to talk with a nurse recruiter at another hospital and he said they had surgery positions open. I set up an interview and was hired on the spot! I couldn't be happier!! So, "TakeTwoAspirins" is right about you exploring all areas before you make up your mind, you just might end up liking something you never thought you would!

To answer your question about the difference between a Med/Surg nurse and a surgery nurse....Med/Surg is usually what people are referring to when you hear them say "they are a floor nurse" A lot of patients will go there after they have surgery, so that's where the "Surgical" part comes in. I worked Med/Surg for a year and learned alot, I hated it, but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. Well, good luck in whatever you choose!!

Fun2, BSN, RN

5,586 Posts

Specializes in Operating Room.

I've always wanted to work in the OR, and I have been in the OR for 1 month now....LOVE IT!

You should be able to observe a C-Section, at the least, during your OB/GYN rotation. This is ALL I saw as far as surgeries go during school. ....1 C-Section, and it was enough to know "I could handle it."

It is NOT for everyone, obviously. I would definitely try to find out from your clinical instructor if you can observe in the OR, and ask EVERY SEMESTER. Some can, some can't. It depends on the clearance the instructor has, I think.

I have to agree with other posters, concentrate on learning the basics now. You could also try to get an extern position.

Ask to float in the OR, ER, and ICU as much as possible throughout your nursing school. You may find you love the OR, but you may realize you really like another specialty or Med/Surg better.

Whatever happens, best of luck in school, and thereafter.

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