Opinions on OR VS MED/SURG nursing!!!

  1. Hi OR nurses,
    I've been a surgery nurse for 15 years working in various areas like neurosurg, ENT, transplant, urology...the list goes on. I am in a position now to either change my area of specialty or leave nursing altogether (bad case of burnout). I have been digging around with critical care, PACU and now need a little info about OR nursing.
    OR nursing is completely foreign to me. What I would like is to hear from former MED/SURG (floor) nurses who have made the transition to OR nursing is what your typical day is like, your roles, level of satisfaction (personal, professional), the good the bad, and the ugly. Any opinions and info would be great!

    Thanks, Catherine
  2. Visit welnet66 profile page

    About welnet66

    Joined: Jul '99; Posts: 64; Likes: 1
    ER at the moment
    Specialty: 20 year(s) of experience in everything but OR


  3. by   TracyB,RN
    I am confused by your question. If you have been a "surgery" nurse for 15 years, why do you need info about the OR?
    Surgery is the "OR". Or did I completely miss something here?
  4. by   welnet66
    Surgery nurse as in med/surg floor nurse. Sorry for the confusion.
  5. by   inches
    I am an OR nurse in HK with more than 10 yrs experience, actually OR nurse is a challenging professional for me. It includes:

    1. Art of Preparation of Instrument and all items need for different procedures.
    2. due with different ppl beside patients who are most of the time unconscious. "some" bad temper surgeons, demanding anaesthetists as well as OR technician. My job is to make these ppl work in harmony, good OR nurse is a good co-ordinator and communicator :kiss
    3. learn tons of new surgical technique, minimal invasive surgery, endoscopy, navigators,brachytherapy, microscopic surgery, new machines, video capture, specimen handling...........
    4. expert in aseptic concept and sterilization
    5. recovery room nursing which similar to ICU care
    6. u need to work and act very fast and response instantly!
    7. and more.....
    Last edit by inches on Aug 31, '02
  6. by   welnet66
    Your reply has opened up my eyes to some of the roles and challenges faced by OR nurses. Although we all have the same education requirements, I find nurses in other specialties such as OR nursing have explored a whole other realm of patient care. Thank-you for your in-put and always welcome more!
  7. by   Anaclaire
    I'm not an OR nurse, but my sister is. She loves it!!! She's been a nurse since 1984. She has always enjoyed moving around in the profession, about every 4-5 years she takes on a new area. Says it keeps her fresh and out of burn-out. She's worked in a children's ER, children's orthopedic floor, all-inclusive pediatrics floor, traveled to a peds floor in another state, spent 8 months in an OR learning to scrub (left that because she had to move to another state), SICU, Manager of Pediatrics, NICU, Outreach Education Coordinator, LDRP, PACU, and now in OR as a circulator.

    She is the type of person who can move very quickly and think on her feet. She's fast at making decisions and more confident than "scared". She says many of the things as "inches" said above about helping the OR run smoothly. Under stress lots of employees can get upset and demanding so it seems to fall on her to help calm folks down.

    She tells me the only thing she misses is the "warm fuzzies" she gets with regular patient care. Since the patients are mostly asleep she doesn't get much interaction with them. She says to counteract that, she really enjoys speaking with them and helping to calm them before they are anesthetized. She says, "You never know if your face and voice could be one of the last they see... we all know how dangerous anesthesia can be." She also continues to teach Childbirth Education Classes every Monday night saying that's where she gets her warm fuzzies from now.

    Good luck with your decision. I'd imagine with your med/surg experience (patient types and busy floor) would be of benefit to you in the OR. You could try PACU first...
  8. by   welnet66
    Hi Anaclair,
    Your sister's experiences are very impressive and demonstrate a rare dedication to the profession. It's encouraging to hear how happy she is with her choices and your information has been a great help in my quest for something better.
    Thanks, Catherine :kiss
  9. by   shodobe
    I have been in the OR for now, 25 years! I did the M/S, ER, some ICU route and have found nothing as challenging or rewarding as the OR. I "blow" off ill-tempered surgeons and wouldn't think of having a Tech tell me what to do. I am on a looooong weekend, 18 hrs on Fri, 8 yesterday and 8 so far today, but I don't care because when I am on call that's all I want to do is work. My wife likes that! I felt the M/S experience was the best and in the past when I have objected to the fact of people going right into the OR from school I have been met with some criticism. It is very helpful to have all that patient knowledge in your back pocket. I can tell the ones straight out of school as opposed to the ones who spent a little time on M/S. Good luck with decision because the OR can always use a few good ones. Mike
  10. by   welnet66
    Hi Mike,
    You sound very happy in the OR and it's refreshing to hear that. 18 hours!!! Wow, I'm dead after a 13!
    What was the transition like from med/surg, ICU, ER to OR. Did you find a vast difference in your roles, how physicians related to you and other co-workers? Are you made to feel like an important part of the team? Do you feel your presence there makes a difference in patient outcomes? Do you feel good about yourself when you leave work?
    Thanks for your very helpful info!!!!!!

  11. by   shodobe
    Just finished another 8 hours today for my holiday weekend call, 36 hours of O/T. It is not as bad as it seems. I really do live for the O/T and all my co-workers know it and usually gve me their call. I work in SoCal but live in NorCal so all I want to do is work when "south". Don't get me wrong and assume it is all "roses" in the OR. Anesthesia on-call this weekend is a real di*khead and got into a real fight with the surgeon , who happens to be Chief of Staff, and came real close to being suspended. I just sit back and wait for the dust to clear and may the best man win, usually the CofS. Fighting with the floors about getting patients ready for surgery, especially the correct way, getting x-ray up to do films, this is just a few things that drive you "NUTS"!!!!! But after it is all done you feel you have accomplished something. You have to feel good about what you are trying to do and forget all the distractions no matter how frustrating it can get. If you do decide to got into the OR, hopefully you will find someone who will give of themselves to make you the best OR nurse you can be. It is true about OR nurses "eating their young" because alot of them feel no one can be as good as they are so why bother teaching. Forget that and learn all you can by asking all questions no matter how trivial it seems. Keep your eyes opened and absorbed everything around you so you can learn technique from all. And best yet, keep positive about everything no matter how dark the days may seem because there really is a light at the end of the tunnel and it isn't a TRAIN! good luck, Mike