It sounds like you are progressing well in your orientation. You didn't mention how far into orientation you are.
I, too, was a second career/degree BSN with now 10 years of experience. Two years were spent on the med-surg unit and I hated it with a passion. In retrospect, I now value that learning experience. Anyway, I wanted to transition out of med-surg, but without a clear picture of what I wanted. I shadowed in the OR for a bit and then decided to apply and go for it. I trained in a level 1 trauma teaching hospital with an orientation that sounds similar to what you detailed including the frustration of never seeing the same case twice and having varying preceptors. It has now been 8 years since I've come to the OR and overall, I'm happy with my nursing specialty. I just wanted to give you some background on myself first.
My thoughts on your situation:
-You stated you find circulating to be very physically and mentally draining and I would agree. I find that I am exhausted when I am a period of learning. You are learning something new every day, every case. It is tiring. It will get better. I still learn something new every day and I take pride in seeking out new opportunities. Yes, I find the OR to be physically demanding; however, I feel it may be less so than other specialties.
-I understand that we may only interact with our patients for a limited time while they are awake, but consider it from a different angle. I take great pride in being responsible for someone when they are at their most vulnerable while under anesthesia. It is an honor to be an advocate for them. No, we don't get many thank you's from patients and families, but my advice is to take personal satisfaction from a job well done. On another note, having worked on a med-surg unit, there are also downsides to having a lot of patient and family interactions. It can be great, but it can also be very draining.
-I do encourage you to consider their PMH and plan of care. Their surgical procedure is one step along the path to wellness/palliation. No, I may not have a lot of time to delve into their history, but I think it is important to know. If you work on a floor, you often do not have time to know all the fine details either. Your preceptors may not be encouraging to get into the PMH and plan of care, because they want you to focus on the surgery and other tasks. You can delve into this more when you are on your own.
-Are you learning to scrub or will you be given that opportunity later?
-If you want to continue with education, then paths might include being a first assistant, an APRN that sees patients in clinic and assists the surgeon, becoming an OR educator, or.....(I'm sorry, I'm drawing a blank).
-I find that when I am overwhelmed, angry, bored, or any other non-positive emotion in the OR or driving to be my job, I stop and think of the wonder of the human body and the rare experience I have in watching how it works. Cheesy, I know, but seriously. So many people in life are sitting in a cubicle, typing away, but I am in the OR seeing anatomy and physiology in real life and I am awestruck every time I really think about it. It's just easy to miss that feeling of awe when you are feeling mentally and physically drained.
-Now, should you cut and run? It's truly personal and I can't give sound advice without knowing you, but I just wanted to give some food for thought. Good luck on your decision to stick it out or cut and run.