Should I Go From RN to Scrub Tech?

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,

    I graduated my ADN program in 2010 at age 51. Immediately went into home health for 2 years as
    medsurg held no interest for me and my ultimate goal was hospice nursing. I began working in a hospice house in 2012 and stayed until 2017.

    My husband and I relocated to another state. Since then I have been a hospice CM for a small agency and hate it. While I love my patients, the work is boring and unchallenging. I am desperate for a change but feel backed into a corner because of my age, lack of experience, and possibly only having my ADN.

    At 59, would a BSN be any benefit for someone with no interest in management? I am considering a scrub tech program - an 18-month course that costs $31,000....ouch. But I desperately want to turn my career around. Would I even be hirable at 61 when I finish the course? I am so confused! I plan on working until age 68 and know as a scrub tech the pay will be significantly less; I am hoping it will be a foot in the door to something new as an RN (albeit a costly one.)



    Dear Bored,

    Spending $31,000 and 18 months to work as a scrub tech may not be the best way to land a job as a surgery RN. What is the market demand for scrub techs in your area? Before you decide to do this, factor in the cost of your lost wages to see if this makes financial sense for you.

    If you spent that same amount of time and effort applying and interviewing, you could land an RN position (and save $31,000). Have you applied to all the outpatient procedural and surgical centers in your area?

    Getting your BSN at 59 when you plan to work until 68 is a better return on investment, depending on the probability of your future health.

    If you decide not to pursue your BSN, and if you have the stamina, you could consider sub-acute. Sub-acute such as rehabs and skilled nursing offer more opportunities for non-BSN RNs. The market is less competitive, and often this is due to sub-optimal working conditions, such as high turnover and workload.

    Sub-acute can also serve as a stepping stone to other roles, such as minimum data set (MDS) coordinator. MDS coordinators evaluate and assure documentation of the care given to residents and submit data to CMS. Working with the residents would give you the patient care contact you like.


    Best wishes,

    Nurse Beth[
    Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Aug 31
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    About Nurse Beth, MSN, RN

    Joined: Mar '07; Posts: 1,573; Likes: 4,713
    Nursing Professional Development Specialist; from CA , US
    Specialty: Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho

    12 Comments

  3. by   beekee
    Why not take the peri-op 101 course? It'd be cheaper and it show your motivation to work in the OR.
  4. by   caliotter3
    Invest some of that $31,000 in pursuing some pleasant pastimes, perhaps a little for therapy. Find out what is really eating away at your psyche so perhaps you can better manage your discontent. Not said as a criticism, but as an idea for further thought.
  5. by   KelRN215
    Don't spend $31,000 on a scrub tech course. You can be a scrub nurse in the OR with your current license, you just need to find an OR that's willing to train you.
  6. by   Hoosier_RN
    Quote from caliotter3
    Invest some of that $31,000 in pursuing some pleasant pastimes, perhaps a little for therapy. Find out what is really eating away at your psyche so perhaps you can better manage your discontent. Not said as a criticism, but as an idea for further thought.
    Love this answer 1000x!
  7. by   ORoxyO
    Absolutely do not go to ST school. It doesn't make sense and is extremely expensive.

    We hire inexperienced nurses all the time. They will teach you to scrub for free. And you'll make more money, too.
  8. by   Leader25
    Well in hindsight you know you missed an opportunity to advance your skills at the beginning of your career, now you do not like where you have been fortunate to be employed in spite of being a late bloomer.

    Spending $31,000 when you are only planning to work until age 68 (provided your health holds up) is a risky investment.I do not know your financial situation.

    Like another poster said you can still get a BSN while employed and have the hospital pay towards the tuition.

    From the inside I hear that many hospitals are in need of OR nurses and are willing to train you ,it is usually an 18 month contract some send you to a different hospital for training,others have created their own training programs.

    Good luck to you.
  9. by   FurBabyMom
    I'm with the others. Apply for an OR job and see if they will train you. We hire nurses without OR experience all the time. And we train people to scrub (paying you to learn). I noted from the original post that the person asking the question is 59.

    Be mindful that the OR is an enviornment where call exists and can be a real pain! I've worked my scheduled shift, got stuck "over" with no relief until 1930. Went home, home until 2230 and called back in - at work 2300-0930. Up from 0500 - through 1000 the next day with *maybe* a small nap between shifts. It's not always, and when you're working like that surgeons are too. SOME facilities do not schedule their age 60+ staff for overnight call, but by no means is it all. I'm in the under 30 crowd...and working all day then working all night sucks no matter what your age is. Just food for thought.

    I love periop, but it is a physically intense environment. There are several downsides to this amazing environment where I couldn't imagine working elsewhere clinically. That said, if it is your dream, go for it!

    I personally endorse the option to get a hospital/hospital affiliated job, and see if they won't help with BSN costs.
  10. by   NurseDiane
    NO, NO and NO!! That is too much debt to take on at this stage of the game.

    If you are bored as a CM, remember that when you work in the OR you have NO interaction with patients at all. It is very boring, very stressful & dealing with the personalities of surgeons is a whole issue all to itself. All you do is pass instruments as the scrub & do paperwork as the circulator.

    Bored is not necessarily a bad thing. Most nurses complain about being overworked, underpaid, & the unsafe environment of various facilities that purposely run with extremely short nursing staff to save money. Many nurses would kill to have a desk job where they were "bored". Remember, at 59 years of age, the risk of getting hurt is much higher now than it was 10 years ago.

    Not having a BSN is definitely an obstacle, but I don't know if it is worth it to get it at your age, if you only intend to work another 9 years. Another obstacle in getting a job is your age. It shouldn't be, but it is. My advice would be to suck it up & continue with your boring job until you retire. Nursing is not the career it used to be (I am saying this as a nurse with 30+ years of experience) and if you are lucky enough to have a job where you can sit, not have nursing management micromanaging you and just do what you have to do, I say take advantage of it. The chances of getting a hospital job even if you are enrolled in a BSN program are low. Don't risk losing the job you have now. Maybe to give you the excitement you seek, you can take up skydiving or scuba diving with sharks or some other "exciting" hobby. "Excitement" in a nursing job isn't what you want, not at this stage of your life. Trust me on that.
  11. by   Cyan8181
    Another thing to think about is how physically demanding scrubbing is. I scrubbed as a CST for 6 years and then circulated and scrubbed as an RN for another six. I work in a 31 room OR that is staffed 24-7. Even with that amount of staff on, there are cases when there is no one to relieve you. I once was scrubbed from 8pm-6am on a ruptured aortic arch aneurysm. I got a 30 min break during a part of the case that a non open heart CST could scrub for me, but that was it until the morning team got there and scrubbed me out. I have several CST friends that went to nursing school in their 40s and early 50s because they said the job was going to become to exhausting as they got older.
  12. by   Froggybelly
    It can be tricky getting into the operating room, and more so if you want to scrub. You can become an operating room circulator with an internship. The recommended length is 6-9 months, though I tend to see local hospitals offering more like 3-4, because they don't teach nurses to scrub. Because many hospitals that have nursing schools also have scrub tech schools, it can be very hard to find someone who will actually train you to scrub.

    Working in the operating room room can be a high-stress, grueling specialty. If you are circulating, you run your pants off. If you scrub, you're standing all day long. There's a lot of call and you work most days of the week. There are exceptions, of course, but it's a lot to consider. Regardless, I wouldn't go to ST school. If anything, go get a surgical assisting degree/ diploma.
  13. by   swirt1958
    So why not implement a new program at your SNF? Maybe some kind of patient-education program, or music program that matches the popular songs for each patient to the generation they grew up in? There are so many things that can make the long-term care setting better for everyone, not just you. Instead of leaving, consider what you can do to make the experience a better one for you, the next nurse, and the patients?
  14. by   Tommy5677
    I think nurse Beth offers good advice here. Get your BSN. There are plenty of fully accredited online RN-BSN programs out there and many of them won't break the bank. One program offers theirs for $250 a month, a bargain to be sure. No matter the program you should be able to get your BSN in 15 mo. and under $15,000. Good luck!

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