OR to Burn Unit? Please advise


Hi all,

I have been an RN in the operating room x3 years now, straight out of school. I took the first and only job I was offered, which was the OR. Turns out I did love it, a LOT, at first- but fast forward to now and I am 120% burned out. I am absolutely unhappy and I need a change. This I am sure of, I don't need advice on whether or not I should leave the OR- I've already decided I'm out. What I am looking around these boards for is any advice or foresight on is, I have an interview in the Burn ICU at a trauma center/university hospital. I'm very excited about it! But, I'm REALLY worried. I 100% admit I don't know anything about floor nursing and I'm afraid I won't like it, and I'm afraid I won't do well. I'm afraid of a lot of things, but I know I need to try. I truly feel that if I hate it, then at least I've tried. Can anyone give me any input on the Burn unit? Unfortunately my nurse friend told me that I would hate it as she knows people who have worked there and quit within a year, so of course she got into my head, and my other mentors told me that I'm "good at the OR, so I should stay." Yes, I AM very good at my job, but I am no longer happy, satisfied, inspired, nor motivated. I am also wanting to change jobs because I have always wanted to go back to school, be it for NP, or CRNA, or what have you, but I could never decide because the OR does not exactly inspire you or lead you in the right direction or path for advanced education - plus all that is really available would be a CNS or MSN management position in the OR, which I have no interest in. I feel working in the burn unit would help me decide on school one day. I hope this post isn't just a rambling on of feelings but any insight would help me. Thanks.

marienm, RN, CCRN

Specializes in Burn, ICU. Has 9 years experience. 289 Posts

There's a lot here! Will you like the burn unit? I don't know! Why did your friend think you wouldn't? (Not that your friend is right, of course, but if she has the inside scoop on serious management problems, she might have a point.) Will you be less burned out? I don't know! Burn patients--like most acute or intensive care patients, really--can be very rewarding and very challenging and very tragic. We spend a lot of time taking care of patients who do well and go home and get back to their lives, and we care for others who are meth cooks who you'll see in the news 3 months after discharge because they got arrested for cooking meth again. We care for young people who die after house fires and old people who die after smoking with their oxygen on. The patients who die don't usually do so right away (unlike, say, a massive MI or a trauma), so we spend a lot of time with them and their families first--even when we know their death is probably inevitable. These are the types of things that can lead to burnout but can also spark your passion for caring for the patients and their families.

My unit cares for intensive care patients as well as fairly stable patients, so we see the whole gamut. I'm not sure what type of unit you interviewed on, but I imagine your patient load will be anywhere between 2 ICU patients or 4-5 stable patients (if it's like a regular med-surg unit). Either way, I assume this is a huge change from the OR. You will need to learn a whole different type of time management, new protocols for orders, what to do in an emergency, etc. This will be true no matter where you move, so the fact that it's a burn unit isn't really the issue. I'm assuming that wounds don't gross you out, nor does the smell of the electrocautery tool. Did you get to shadow on this unit? Do they understand that you're effectively a new grad when it comes to working on a unit? Do they have a reasonable orientation procedure? Good luck in your decision--let us know what you decide!



20 Posts

Thanks so much for your input, it was really, really insightful! I'll let you know what happens =)



Specializes in Student Nurse of Anesthesiology. Has 6 years experience. 31 Posts

The BURN and Surgical Unit were my fav. You'll learn so much. Hope you get this!