The topic of 'losing skills' when one works in the OR speaks to my heart :heartbeat.
I was drawn to the OR during an observation that I did a long time ago during nursing school. Even then, the 'nursing instructors' didn't support OR nursing, keeping the sentiment that 'OR nurses don't do anything' . What I witnessed was a nurse that stood 4'11" but had the personality of a 6' amazon...she commanded that the needs of the patient were top priority-she was constantly moving about the room, checking drapes, communicating with anesthesia, checking urine output, IVFs, watching the field like a hawk, documenting, answering pages, coordinating bloodwork, pathology specimens and results, keeping the surgeon 'in-line', showing the resident how to put his gloves on properly-it was AMAZING! From that point, I begged to do more time in the OR, only to be told that wasn't possible..., I just accepted it. I always kept the OR in the back of my mind, and one day, I friend of mine told me about an opening in the OR and that I should go for it-so I did and here I am!!
I've worked in the OR for a little over 3 years and it's the only one that I've worked in (I have floated to OP endoscopy and our OP surgery center). Prior to working in the OR, I worked Hem/Onc and ICU step down for a few years; private practice urology and cardiology; nursing home charge, meds, and treatments; private home duty; AND I was a nursing assistant for two years on an Isolation med/surg (total care) unit. So when I came to the OR, I had quite a hefty skills set. I did go through a 'rollercoaster ride' of emotions and learning during my first year-there's ALOT to learn to succeed as a nurse in the OR.
I think that if I came to the OR that I work in as a graduate nurse, I might not have made it through orientation (it was rough). One thing that I believe helped me was the fact that I had a developed a broad knowledge base of nursing care. That knowledge combined with new OR nursing knowledge, I believe, has produced a fine OR nurse ! Not to say that I think new grads shouldn't work in the OR, I think that if someone wants to be a nurse in the OR, then they should pursue it-whenever that is!
Nurses that work on the floor, whatever their 'specialty' is, faces many challenges during their work day-the patient's family (which in essence is our 'patient' also) is breathing down your neck, etc OR nurses face challenges as well, they just aren't necessarily the same ones as up on the floors.
We all have different skill sets and levels of skill-doesn't it make sense that if nursing itself is so diverse, wouldn't the skill sets required of nursing be just as diverse? Even from floor to floor, there are different skills that a nurse has to have-So, to say that you would 'lose skills' working in the OR is just ridiculous . You will build on the skill sets you already possess, gain new ones and integrate the two, just like you would do if you went from med/surg to the ICU.
I think that this misconception rests somewhat on the saying that if you don't use it, you lose it...but you still do patient assessments of vitals (including pain), neuro, skin integrity, cardiac, respiratory, GI/GU, musculoskeletal, endocrine; interpretation of labs, etc. These assessments aren't performed necessarily the same, but they are still done.
Since working in the OR, I understand the 'big picture' of a surgical patient-from pre op teaching to discharge and home care. Being a part of the actual surgical process of a patient's hospital experience brought it all together for me. If you can understand the disease process and understand the surgical procedure, then it is easy to figure out the pre op and post op care/teaching needed; its something I like to call nursing common sense. Of course tho, one can only gain this experience and skill set by becoming an OR nurse!!!:loveya: