Afraid I'm Pigeonholed in the OR

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,

    I am a BSN-prepared nurse and have been working in the operating room since graduating from nursing school two years ago. I am on several committees and occasionally serve as charge nurse. I stay busy, but several of my more experienced coworkers have suggested that I am "wasting my talents" and could do so much more for my patients if I worked in a different specialty. I like the operating room, but don't like the idea of being pigeonholed into one department for the rest of my career.

    At what point should I consider a move beyond my current role to expand my nursing practice? How does someone with non-traditional bedside experience pick up a different nursing specialty? [Though I'm not technically a new graduate, I haven't used some skills (such as hanging IV fluids) since nursing school.] What type of onboarding can someone like me hope for if I find a position on another unit? s

    Dear Afraid I'm Pigeonholed,

    You are growing! From new grad to experienced, involved OR nurse to charge nurse. Your co-workers see a lot of potential in you.

    At two years out, I would start to think about my professional development plan in terms of career track- clinical practice, advanced practice, leadership, education. Where do you want to end up, and what are the next steps on your chosen path? You very well may have multiple talents- as an educator, and a nurse leader. Or your passion may be clinical bedside practice.

    But you're right- you will benefit by gaining experience outside of the OR. It's easier to go from broad to narrow than vice-versa, but starting a new specialty is a function of contacts, timing, and good luck.

    Activate your network, including old classmates who landed jobs in other areas. Let them know you are looking for a position, and ask them to put in a good word for you. Typically a reputable hospital will give you adequate orientation individualized to your learning needs, but it will not be as long as what a new grad receives. That's OK, because you know more than you realize. Good luck and continue to grow

    Best wishes,

    Nurse Beth

    Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!
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    About Nurse Beth, MSN, RN

    Joined: Mar '07; Posts: 1,381; Likes: 4,116