OR nurses, was it your calling?

Posted

Hello OR Nurses

I am in the midst of possibly accepting an OR position. I wanted to ask all of you who are seasoned or partly experienced OR nurses if you truly enjoy the specialty that you have chosen and have no regrets not going the traditional medical route in your nursing career? Or do you wish you had done something else because you lost all your "traditional" nursing skills. What drew you initially to the OR or after trying other specialties? I know there are perks in working at surgical outpatient settings etc, but I am wondering in terms of the traditional OR hospital experience.

Do any of you really have the chance to scrub or is it just mostly circulating? Any of you decide to get your RNFA after? How is your schedule (generally speaking)?

I am pretty sure after I finish this residency that there will be no going back for me because eventually I want to move up in management and work in professional and clinical development at some point in my career so I know showing and demonstrating consistency is key and I don't want to jump all over the place with my career and keep having to reinvent the wheel so to speak.

Thanks for the feedback!

imanurseintheor

imanurseintheor

20 Posts

If you want to be in management someday, then stay in the OR. OR experience is pretty much good for that and possibly only that - of course depending on your facility and state you live in. For example the state I live in doesn't recognize the RNFA so I could never go that route. Work in the OR for a bit, and move up and get your masters' and eventually you could become a director of an OR. It's not a bad gig at all, but not my cup of tea, personally.

I can't say this was my dream job. I accepted the first and only job I was offered once I graduated (I felt that beggars could not be choosers) and it turned out at first that I truly loved the OR. I learned to scrub. I am proficient in scrubbing in most services and for that I'm very lucky as I see on here quite often that nurses were never given the opportunity to learn to scrub. I find that in large academic university centers and/or trauma centers RNs are taught to scrub and are used as scrubs quite often. I do love to scrub in, a lot.

However it's been 3 years for me and I have reached my maximum potential in this area - I need to move on. Since I don't have any interest in management I don't think there's much for me in the OR anymore unless I want to stay staff for the rest of my life.

As I was reading your post I was going to tell you to not do it, but once I read that you want to get into management I was like, hey, fine, that's great then. Had you written that your ultimate dream goal is to become a CRNA or NP I would have said to re consider the OR. The OR is not a bad place by any means but it is so, so, so specific and extremely and entirely different from anything else a nurse could possibly do, that you can't really translate it to advanced practice nursing. That would be my only qualm. But, like I said a few times already get your MSN and become an OR director! You will be handsomely compensated =)

danceluver

danceluver

653 Posts

@imanurseintheor-thank you for that feedback! Where else can OR nurses go after? Plastics? Private practice? Yes, definitely want to go into management or clinical education in some capacity-either it be helping with a residency program or director type position. Do you have any colleagues that have done this? What has their experience been like? Thanks!

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, Nursing Professional Development. Has 17 years experience. 5 Articles; 11,206 Posts

I was a staff OR nurse for many years and recently moved into staff development in a role focused on surgical and procedural areas. However, while it may not be the easiest transition, it is indeed possible to move on from the OR to other specialties. I have worked with those who later took positions in ICU, med surg, home health, hospice, and office settings, just to name a few. Some have also gone on to become NPs- one is actually employed by one of our surgeon groups now.

imanurseintheor

imanurseintheor

20 Posts

RoseQueen, can you tell me where? I'm in NYC and having a HELL of a hard time trying to leave the OR and into an ICU. I'm starting to wonder if it's just too competitive here, I don't know.

jackandjill123

jackandjill123

18 Posts

I love O.R. nursing - about 3 years in now (new grad BSN that did a perioperative residency). I was groomed early on to scrub our high-acuity cases (CT, Trauma (open - mostly damage control ex-laps), open vascular, etc.). I think for me, it was a case of "the O.R. chose me". During clinical rotations, I 'thought' I wanted to do Peds, but as it turned out, no other specialty grabbed me like the O.R. did. The way that 'time stands still' in surgery is mesmerizing to me - I like the immediate gratification and being able to participate at the intersection of the mind and the hands.

I have been offered a position to go f/t scrub on our high-risk cardiac team, and highly considering it. I would like to pursue my ACNP and RNFA one-day for sure. I do know that my experience is unique and that most RNs are only circulating at many institutions. I specifically chose my nurse residency program because of how much scrub time it affords its RN residents. I think it's critical to make your desires known upfront when you begin searching for jobs. I know a lot of RNs that scrub >50% of the time and most sought positions where that was possible.

ctsurgeryscrubrn

4 Articles; 65 Posts

I didn't feel that way initially, but I eventually found it to be my calling.

We had an older gentleman that we were taking in for a CABG x5 - his 3rd in 5 years. I scrubbed the case and I just saw how such a powerful muscle can deteriorate with poor habits. But, what drew me in was the care, compassion, and collaboration that united us in our mission to get him through the case. I specifically remember him going into v-fib and how seamlessly the team worked to internally defib his heart.

Everything they say about surgery is true:

1) You'll never feel that close to life or mortality in your life

2) Your hands become the lifeline for another human being

3) The whole team, in its best form, works like a symphony

4) So much is done with so little said

5) It's a dance - sometimes you lead; sometimes you follow; the rhythm encapsulates your soul

You get out of a long, tough case and you feel such satisfaction that you could have done anything with your life, and you're so lucky that 'you' get to enter those sacred rooms and heal.

ctsurgeryscrubrn

4 Articles; 65 Posts

If you want to be in management someday, then stay in the OR. OR experience is pretty much good for that and possibly only that - of course depending on your facility and state you live in. For example the state I live in doesn't recognize the RNFA so I could never go that route. Work in the OR for a bit, and move up and get your masters' and eventually you could become a director of an OR. It's not a bad gig at all, but not my cup of tea, personally.

I can't say this was my dream job. I accepted the first and only job I was offered once I graduated (I felt that beggars could not be choosers) and it turned out at first that I truly loved the OR. I learned to scrub. I am proficient in scrubbing in most services and for that I'm very lucky as I see on here quite often that nurses were never given the opportunity to learn to scrub. I find that in large academic university centers and/or trauma centers RNs are taught to scrub and are used as scrubs quite often. I do love to scrub in, a lot.

However it's been 3 years for me and I have reached my maximum potential in this area - I need to move on. Since I don't have any interest in management I don't think there's much for me in the OR anymore unless I want to stay staff for the rest of my life.

As I was reading your post I was going to tell you to not do it, but once I read that you want to get into management I was like, hey, fine, that's great then. Had you written that your ultimate dream goal is to become a CRNA or NP I would have said to re consider the OR. The OR is not a bad place by any means but it is so, so, so specific and extremely and entirely different from anything else a nurse could possibly do, that you can't really translate it to advanced practice nursing. That would be my only qualm. But, like I said a few times already get your MSN and become an OR director! You will be handsomely compensated =)

I really admire this very candid, well thought out opinion - it's what makes these types of forums special. I'm only 3 years in to my O.R. career and getting hand-picked to scrub on the open-heart team was definitely a dream of mine. It's been so wonderful with me to work with some of the best minds and team members in the cardiothoracic surgery discipline.

Nobody has a crystal ball and I don't either - what makes me happy and what challenges me today may be quite boring in 5 years or 10 years or never. But we, as nurses, always have the opportunity to transform ourselves, find talents we never knew we had, and show an agility that moves ourselves, the profession, and the healthcare paradigm forward.

Today was an awful morning. Losing a middle aged patient during an elective case is never easy and I still cry every time. It reminds me how fragile life is, and how we constantly need to be asking ourselves, 'is this enough?'. One day, hopefully long from now, we won't remember scrubbing-in, we won't remember the marathon cases...we'll remember what we did for this world and how we challenged ourselves to do more. I hope to become a medical writer one day and articulate the intersection where the front lines of high-stakes operative care meets human need. I hope to write about people who contribute on this forum because there are so many gems about the human ambition through the lens of caregivers.

I love the opportunity to contribute; I cherish the ever-present desire to find the special people who push us forward to say proudly, #ICareLikeANurse.