Question for OR nurses

by 2010rn42 2010rn42 (New) New

Has 8 years experience.

Hi OR Nurses,

I am an RN with 8 years experience mostly on a post surgical/trauma unit. I also have experience as a float nurse throughout the Hospital that I worked, including all in patient units, ICU, and ED. I took a break from nursing and I plan to return at some point but probably not until my kids are of to college. (4 yrs or so) I have always wanted to work in the OR or PACU. Because I have had a lapse in my nursing career, I am afraid I will have trouble getting an OR position. I was considering if it made sense to complete a surgical tech training and then work as a surgical tech for a few years to gain experience in the OR setting. It seems this would be a smoother transition. My concern is....does this not make sense because I would be working below my RN license? I know this may sound strange, but I am not ready to jump right back into nursing and I do not want to return to the inpatient units as an RN...ever. I would love to hear any thoughts or advice you may have. Thank you!


Amistad, RN

Has 9 years experience. 131 Posts

Hi Liza,

I've been an OR nurse for a little over 2 years now. The OR I work at has hired nurses from various backgrounds including new grads and nurses with non-OR experience like myself. They will train you everything you need to know for OR nursing on the job or in a formal training program. I think you should go for it and apply for OR jobs without doing a surgical tech program. I would not work below my license. I was hired with no OR experience and trained to scrub and circulate on the job. That's just my personal opinion.



Has 15+ years experience. 235 Posts

Your lapse should not be a problem if the rest of your background is solid. Training programs for those new to the OR are formal, and are anywhere from 3-6 months. Much of the information you will learn is highly specialized, and different from skills of a floor nurse.

Have Nurse

Have Nurse, ADN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg/Infection Control/Geriatrics. Has 32 years experience. 15 Articles; 719 Posts

Regarding your time away: Some hospitals have certain hiring policies regarding how long one has been away, regardless of your background, for Risk Management purposes. Just a FYI. Check it out before too much time goes by.



20 Posts

NO- it does NOT make sense to do a surgical tech program as an RN! PLEASE DO NOT do that!

FurBabyMom, MSN, RN

Has 8 years experience. 1 Article; 814 Posts

NO- it does NOT make sense to do a surgical tech program as an RN! PLEASE DO NOT do that!

Even if you could get an employer to hire you, you would legally be held to the same standards as the other RNs.

Can you get a PRN position on a unit you're qualified/competent for? Continuous RN employment would be beneficial. Some people transition relatively seamlessly from ICU to PACU...but each facility is different.

As for the OR? Hmm...I LOVE the OR. It is a very physically demanding environment. But you need to realize that call is a very real thing. I don't know your age, but I'm guessing you're not in your 20s-early 30s if you're approaching your child(ren) being in college. As a 20-something, working all day, sleeping a little (1-2 hours) and returning to work for 2-10 hours is not my favorite thing to do. Not getting to sleep and being up for 27 hours straight is also not fun (working 22/27 hours sucks there is no way to slice it other than that). My worst non-call day lately was 15.5 hours (there was no relief staff and leaving would have been abandonment). Oh, and I turned around and came back to work 7 hours after that. A problem with the OR is that outside staff can't float in to help relieve staffing issues like what can be done on almost any other unit(s).

That being said, I love this environment. I might leave the environment for something else, but if I'm doing anything remotely clinical, this is it. There are many positive, but it is definitely something you either love or you hate.



Has 2 years experience. 88 Posts

The OR can feel very different depending on where you work. A surgery center will be much less physical and mentally demanding than a trauma center. That being said, I wouldn't worry about age or any call requirements. There are options. Mostly, OR nurses work a variety of 8s, 10s, and 12s, Plus call. That leaves very few free days. Trauma centers can be grueling because of lack of staffing and people needing surgery 24/7. If you want to work CVOR doing hearts, you will take a lot of call.

Getting into the OR can be difficult. For example, my workplace currently only considers nurses with current bedside practice for our internships. OR internships are plentiful, though, so if you can return to work in a hospital, someone will be happy to hire you into the flock.

If you want to be in the OR, ask to shadow.