So I am a senior in nursing school and will be graduating at the end of this year. Up until a few months ago, I had no idea what specialty of nursing I wanted to get into, so I thought I would just start in med-surg since that’s what everyone seemed to be advising. However, a few months ago, I came across a video of an OR nurse describing her role, and it got me really interested. Fast forward three months, and I have decided that I am interested in becoming an OR nurse. I have not shadowed yet, but I will in just a couple weeks.
There are a few things that appealed to me about the OR. One of them is the teamwork aspect of it. I have always preferred working in a team to working independently. With floor nursing, although you have support available if you need it, you are primarily responsible for your patients, you are usually alone in the room with them, and you often have to make independent judgment calls regarding their care. I dislike this about floor nursing.
Another thing I like about the OR is being able to focus entirely on one patient at a time. I work as a CNA on a med-surg floor right now, and I see the nurses constantly running around from room to room, juggling 4-6 patients and all their family members. I enjoy patient interaction, but I think that this constant cycling through new patients and family members every shift would burn me out fast. This is especially true because I am an introvert. Lastly, I am fascinated by surgery and anatomy. I have spent hours watching videos about different types of surgeries over the past three months since deciding that I’m interested in the OR.
That said, I have a few concerns that I’m wondering if anyone might speak to. Firstly, I’m worried about being able to get a job in the OR as a new grad. I know that OR residency programs exist, but I’m not sure how competitive they are (I live in a major metro area), and I will have an ADN, not a BSN, although I have a BA as well. I have requested OR placement for my senior practicum, so if I get it, hopefully that will improve my chances.
Another concern is whether or not it’s a good idea to start out in the OR. Although I would learn a ton of new things, part of me feels like it’s somewhat of a shame that I wouldn’t be putting to use so much of what I’ve learned in nursing school – doing H2T assessments, med passes, starting IVs, etc. If I started out in the OR and decided years later that I wanted to do a different type of nursing, I imagine I would be totally unequipped and would be as clueless as a new grad, even with years of OR experience (except for foleys and charting). I wonder if people who start out in the OR have difficulty changing specialties a few years into their career because hiring managers think their OR experience is too irrelevant. I also wonder if my lack of experience as a floor nurse would put me at a relative disadvantage in the OR compared to nurses who came into the OR with years of floor experience.
Finally, I wonder if I have the “right” personality for it. I have read numerous posts on this site saying you have to have a super strong personality and thick skin to work in the OR. I am not quite sure what to make of this. I understand that situations in the OR can be very intense, and that OR nurses are likely to get yelled at by surgeons from time to time. However, I kind of feel like you have to have a strong personality and thick skin to work as a nurse in any specialty. As I said, I am introvert. But I am NOT shy. I am an introvert in the sense that constantly meeting and interacting with new people burns me out quicker than my more extroverted peers, which is one reason why floor nursing appeals to me less. But I am not afraid to speak up and advocate for my patients, even if it means stepping on some toes. In general though, people perceive me as being a little more reserved and cool-headed; I am not someone who wears their emotions on their sleeve. I have been yelled at plenty by patients and it usually doesn’t bother me much. But that’s not the same thing as being yelled at by a doc or even another nurse, and that’s never actually happened to me in my short time as a nursing student and CNA. I think that I could probably get used to it over time.
Wow, I didn’t mean to write so much, but if anyone’s reading this, I would greatly appreciate some feedback/advice!