OR to "regular" floor, is it possible?

Specialties Operating Room


I am a new grad who recently passed the NCLEX. I am being offered a job in the OR, which I am very interested in, however, I am a little uneasy about taking a job in the OR as myFirst job for fear that if at some point I want to go back to "regular" floor nurse (e.g. A med-surg or telemetry floor), I won't be able to because I have had only OR experience. Has anyone had experiences with this? Is it possible/not extremely difficult to go to a regular floor after being in the OR? Any words of wisdom or personal experience would be welcome! Help!!

Specializes in Trauma Surgery, Nursing Management.

A friend of mine started out directly from nursing school into the OR. She went through the first 5 months of orientation and decided that she would rather get experience on the floor for a couple of years, then MAYBE come back to the OR. She is very happy working on the floor, and she feels good about her decision. She had no trouble at all getting a job on a med/surg floor. I think that part of the reason why this was relatively easy for her is because she made a lateral move within the same healthcare system.

If you REALLY want to work in the OR, then take the position. If you would rather get a couple of years experience on the floor, do that instead.

FWIW, I would take the OR job in a skinny minute. Let us know what you decide.

Once hired by the hospital, you will most likely never have trouble going to the floor even after being in the OR. They hire new grads to the floor all the time so they would hire a nurse from the OR and give you another orientation. That being said, the OR would be harder and more stressful for a new grad than the floor since with nursing school you should already have a little floor experience and know what to expect. However, with jobs the way they are I'd take what I could get. Good luck!

Specializes in APRN, ACNP-BC, CNOR, RNFA.

I don't think it'll be much of a problem to transfer to the floor, but if you want some critical care experience, don't stay in the OR any longer than 2 years. I tried for a while to transfer to the ICU after having been an scrub tech and OR nurse for 10 years. I was told that OR nursing experience only matters to OR managers, so they didn't care how much experience I had. When I was finally offered an ICU spot, it was at $6 less an hour, because I would no longer be an expert in my area.

I am just kind of nervous, because as Nurse ABC said, I don't really have ANY OR experience, and I have at least a little floor experience, so going to the OR is a completely new role. I have also read/heard things about people crying during their orientation, and that surgeons are rude and/or yell at you, which also is unsettling to me.

Specializes in Operating Room.

Being in the OR is completely different and you will definitely need re-training if you go back on the floor. If it is something you are not sure about, don't waste your time. It takes at least 2 years in the O.R to learn a whole lot and depending on your facility you may get stuck in a specialty within the O.R. It is a constant learning process and if your managers know that you only want to be there for 2 years they might pass you over and look for someone they can retain in the O.R since perioperative courses seem to be dwindling all over the country. It is definitely a specialty that is very different from floor nursing, a lot of technical and legal nursing is what you will be doing in the O.R and if you are not comfortable working with others in a room for at least 8 hours a day you might want to rethink that decision. I can at least say that with everyone there at all times, each team member does not allow one another to fail. Good luck with your decision.

Specializes in Trauma Surgery, Nursing Management.


While it is true that SOME surgeons yell, and SOME staff cry, it isn't an everyday occurrence. The days of surgeons yelling just because they feel like it are by and large gone due to policies such as 'disruptive behavior' and heavy fines/restricted surgical time levied on surgeons as a result of violating these policies.

The key to combat this is to call them on it. I will never forget the day when I was fairly new to the OR and the surgeon asked for something under his breath. The scrub tech heard him, but didn't repeat it for me. I asked, "What was that you need?" The surgeon puts down his instruments, looks at me like I am the village idiot and yells, "I SAID that I wanted a Deaver retractor! I use it for every procedure! Do you know what that is or do I need to draw you a picture?" The tech snickered. I calmly, but in a direct manner stated, "I don't have a comprehension problem. You tend to mumble when you are focused, and our tech should have repeated what you said since I was clear across the room changing out the suction so you wouldn't yell at me when the suction stopped. Moreover, if you use a Deaver for every procedure, I am at a loss as to why our tech seemed to forget this key instrument. I will make note of this on your preference card and give it to the Nurse Manager to amend so that you won't run into this problem again." That surgeon never yelled at me again, and when he got to know me, he actually requested me in his room.

I don't want you to be of the mindset that the OR is a war zone. It isn't. You will see things and experience things in the OR that are truly awesome. For example, assisting a surgeon during an emergency ex-lap and seeing the black/red loop of necrotic bowel (it sure is stinky), doing internal cardiac massage when a pt codes on the table during an open heart procedure, seeing for yourself what sort of damage the lungs suffer from smoking (looks like pebble sized black marks all over the lungs), seeing and feeling how hard the liver can get from cirrhosis, actually seeing the carotid artery during en endocardectomy, and seeing what cancer looks like in the mesentery, on the liver, in the bowel...it is amazing.

If you are working in a university hospital, you will see all kinds of transplants-heart, lung, kidney, pancreas, and liver. You will also be involved with organ harvests for donation.

There is an entire world to be exposed to in the OR. At this juncture, you must think about what YOU want the most. What really grabs your attention? Do you want to be more hands-on and interact with patients? Do you want to learn time management skills first? Do you want to learn medication administration/blood administration/chemo administration? I think that the floor would be a great place to start if you want to get the basics down first and then proceed to the OR if you still have the desire. I started out on the floor because it was my choice, and then realized that my favorite patients were post ops. That's when I started thinking that PACU would be better suited for me. After several years in the PACU, I was intrigued by the OR. When I got to the OR, I never looked back.

Just do it and I promise you will never imagine doing anything else. For some you either hate it or love it. Good luck with your decision.

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