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Questions about Hearts and Vascular

I was recently hired at a Level 1 Trauma center that has about 3 times as many OR's than my previous hospital. Since onboarding, I've been asked to join several teams, but I can only choose 1 and I'm having a hard time deciding... This is where I have a few questions...

I have lots of experience in general, bariatric, and transplants (among other service lines)... The transplant team has asked me to join them, and I was fully on board because I knew i could slot into this with minimal effort. They deal mostly with liver, kidney, and pancreas transplants, all transplants I circulated at my last hospital. Pro is that it is a separate call team and don't have to work scheduled shifts on the weekends and I know these cases. I can contribute immediately

When this was offered, I had very little vascular experience and no open heart experience. However, during my orientation to this new OR, I've spent a little time in each of these other rooms and I guess they liked me because I've now been asked to join the open heart/lung team (instead of the transplant).

I really enjoyed learning the heart stuff. The heart team does lung transplants in addition to the open heart cases. They make their own schedule but pull more call because it is a smaller call team. I would need more training, so I couldn't contribute immediately.

If I don't choose either team, I'd be on the regular call teams, required to work some weekends, and not have a "home". So I'm going to join a team, just not sure which.

The things I'm being told about open hearts is that while it won't help my pay where I'm at (not counting the OT I'll get) if I ever leave, I can command a higher pay if I have heart experience. Is that true? For the nurses who currently do hearts, is there a resource or book I can purchase that can help me learn more about these cases?

What advise would you all give me?

Thanks everyone.


Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 15 years experience.

I finally found my true OR niche when I joined the heart team. Yes, it's a lot more call (32-80ish hours per week depending on whether it's my weekend vs 8 hours per week for the rest of the OR). But, as a smaller team, we also work a lot better together than the rest of the OR (we're the only true specialty team; the others may be assigned to a specialty coordinator, but work all specialties besides hearts). We don't do transplants at my facility.

Ability to command more pay if going to a new facility is likely to vary based on the other facilities' policies. I do not get paid more for having joined the heart team other than the fact that I work a heck of a lot more hours. Personally, I would expect that ability to scrub as well as circulate would be the tipping point when negotiating salary.

I own the previous edition of this book and have found it helpful for cardiac surgery even though it's geared more towards critical care nurses:

Cardiac Surgery Essentials for Critical Care Nursing, 2nd Ed.

It's official... I'm now part of the Cardiothoracic team now!


It's official... I'm now part of the Cardiothoracic team now!


Congrats! I'm a brand spankin' new OR nurse just getting my feet wet. We don't do cardiothoracics where I'm currently at, but that's ultimately one of my goals.


Specializes in Peri-Op. Has 10 years experience.

I did it for a few years and now that i travel it is an asset for possible higher paying jobs. I prefer to not do it because of the heavy call. I also used to scrub, now i prefer to not contract for scrubbing. I hate getting stuxk in big cases for 8 hours without relief.....

Anyhow, yes some hospitals will pay more for thia background but the vast majority these days just base wage off of years of experience.

I was going to weigh in on the same vein as Argo until I read his post. Staff jobs are not really fair market when you look at national demand. You can make more as a CVOR in something closer to the free market conditions that you see in travel nursing.

I also agree with Rose Queen in that you will make more than other specialties because you will be working more hours. Call pay can be a significant addition to your annual pay, even at the ridiculous rates most hospitals pay. Just to get you salivating, it is still standard for OR nurses in Northern California to get half base pay for call. Can you imagine a senior nurse at $70 base pay, especially on in CVOR?! Of course, by the time you have put in twenty years, even that much for call is no longer an incentive for many nurses.


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