relatively new and stressed

Specialties Operating Room


So I've been working in the OR now for about 6 months now and I'm really not sure how I feel about it. It's a level 1 trauma center and a majority of people are really unfriendly. Prior to working in the OR I worked for 1 1/2 years in the ICU and was terribly burnt out so I decided to try something different. Well, after 6 months I'm all ready burnt out on the OR. I dread going to work everyday because despite still " being on orientation" I'm often on my own and feel like I'm floundering all day long most days i'm ready to cry by lunch time but asked almost daily to stay overtime because we are always terribly overbooked. I've been given okay feedback on my performance from my educator, but it's difficult to go to work and be treated like I'm the most idiotic person on the planet by co-workers and surgeons because I don't know everything about every service when I've been there for less than 6 months and haven't even rotated all the services. People are very caught up in their own circles and I have been told, that we are not meant to be friends we are co -workers...well i wasn't expecting us to run through a field holding hands but i at least thought i would be treated like a human being instead of dirt. I really want to quit. People that i have talked to say give it a year but i don't really think i want too. I sometimes regret becoming a nurse because I feel like i'll never be happy with a job and it's been 2 years of nursing with ICU and OR and I have disliked both....This post probably makes me sound stupid but I just needed some advice. I really don't think OR is for me. I am very sensitive and its hard to go to work and be treated so poorly by people almost daily. I sometimes feel like I'm being set up to fail. Although the ICU I came from was tough I miss it because at least the people were friendly for the most part. I feel like I'm never going to find my niche....I was hoping OR would be it, but I don't think it is, I don't know what to do. Sorry this post is so scatter brained, any advice would be appreciated... :o


375 Posts

Give it a full year before you consider quitting. It takes at least that long to become confident, and several years to be well-rounded. Work less hours per week if possible.


59 Posts

Hi Ames,

Well we have a lot in common. Here's the deal, and what I try to focus on when the people in the OR get me down.

How do you feel about the actual work of the OR?

Do you like being involved with the surgeries? Are they fascinating to you?

Do you like the time (minimal, I know) with the patient when they're awake?

When you get to a place where you know the equipment and what you need, when you need it, do you think that you'll feel better?

If you answered yes to these questions then it's all about waiting, from what I can see. One of the reasons I was hired, at least this is what I think, is that I conveyed and believe that I work well in a team, I can be assertive and I can hold my own. Guess what? None of that is turning out to be true on orientation. Frankly, as an orientee from what I can tell, no one trusts you, no one likes you and no one listens to you. You gotta earn it, and it's time sensitive. The only way to get there is to know the job, and unfortunately that cannot be done in under a year from my minimal experience so far.

I am miserable. I hate the specialty I'm in right now because the surgeons are bullies and the nurses are enablers of said bullies, but I will plow through because putting them aside, I like the job, and you know what? When I finally get to where I know what I am doing, I will not be taking any more of the bullying. Right now, I spend the entire day with my lips crammed together trying to concentrate. By the time orientation is over I'll probably need plastic surgery myself, but hopefully, I'll get there.

A few things that have helped me:

-I stopped spending breaktime in the break room. I leave the unit and either try to get some sunlight or call another nursing buddy, just to get confirmation that someone does actually like me.

-As soon as work is done, I leave. I am trying to incorporate advice that I got on my thread and exercise after work instead of just collapsing. Hopefully it'll burn off some of the tension and anxiety.

-Do you work in a state where overtime isn't mandatory? Because if you do, you might want to politely decline or at least lessen it.

-keep in close touch with your support systems. You really need them right now.

Finally, from what I can see some of the people in the OR have the most rotten personalities that I have ever had the misfortune to experience. You have to wonder how they function in real life, and then you realize that work is probably all they have. Thank God that isn't you. How in heaven's name do people sit next to eachother at lunch and not say a word to eachother????? These are not the people that get to influence your future.

Chin up Ames, we need to get there, because the next orientees need nice people to talk to!


2 Posts

Thanks for the advice...everyone that I have talked to has told me to give it a year and you will have that day where you come in and everything goes right and I try to believe that. It's hard though in the place that I work to imagine sticking it out another 6 months, because in that amount of time other staff and surgeons are still going to be treating me like dirt and I just feel like sticking it out despite their rudeness is like saying it's okay for people to treat me like that.

At first I was excited about the job, I was excited to learn new things, but as time has passed and people have treated me so rudely I've started to lose interest in surgery. Though I was stressed in the ICU I miss the teamwork and having friends at work and I'm really wanting to quit. I have no desire to learn how to scrub, I dread going, I miss taking care of patients for more than 5 minutes, but mainly I think I'm just tired of people being so mean. Of course, it's not everyone there are some friendly people, but I don't know if maybe I am too sensitive or I don't know what my problem is...I don't want to be the loser nurse that switches jobs 3 times in 2 years...I just can't be happy. And it's not like I've done badly, I got great feedback as an ICU nurse and I've gotten good feedback from the OR as well, but nearly 6 months of any confidence I had gained from my previous jobs has just been crushed in the OR....ugh I don't know what to do!!! I'm sorry for my negativity..I'm so stressed.


230 Posts

Specializes in OR.

You need a outlet maybe go running or for a walk right after work and relieve the stress, then go home shower and relax. This will help you get your mind off of work , and I know its hard to seperate work from home but make that extra effort and if you can work less hours do so . Put yourself first and use positive affirmation every morning when you wake up , you can do this and and put blinders on when the negative co - workers try to bring you down .


56 Posts

Hello Ames. I have found the first year of nursing to be incredibly stressful at times. It's a whole different world -and although every field seems to be short of staff it's as though they don't want to let you in at times, don't you think? I remember hearing that "Nurses eat their young" and see that it is so. Also I have heard that it takes, I think it was, 3 years to become "competent" , so of course we won't know everything! But how bad can we be? You have to be intelligent to get into nursing school and have to have some people skills to want to take care of them. There is, apparently, no such thing as an "easy" nursing job. And everything in nursing seems to involve ethics: "Am I smart enough? good enough? How shall I deal with people who are rude/mean/belittling to me? What about veracity and faithfuness to the patient? Is this in the best interest of the patient? How precious is the trust the patient places on you? When I give a new medicine I have to look up in my Mosby before giving it are my fellow nurses right to think I'm slow? Is it better to chart now or put lotion on the patient's feet while she talks about what she is afraid of? It seems, from what you have said, that this process also happens when you switch to a new area. It may be that you always go through rough times. However I believe that there is also the satisfaction that you did a good job that helped the patient through a difficult time and had the knowledge and training to be effective. Remember you know more than you did when you first started and the things that were hard then seem easier now. There will always be more to learn. You know more than the general public about the OR now! And why do you think they have the computer there? Nurses are always looking up stuff. (Then they act like they always knew it!) It sounds like you are stressed. Probably the others are stressed also and so act like they do. Sometimes it's just awful, sometimes it's good. Find something for yourself-read stupid romantic escapist books like Voyager by Diana Gabaldon (a series!) or take walks-or shop at Big Lots for stuff you don't really need. I think you are a good nurse, and I like you. Hang in there. Your destiny will find you.


49 Posts

Hi Ames!

I'm at 5.5 months in the OR at a top ten hospital and I'm right there with you. I did an externship in the ICU where I was treated well and enjoyed the teamwork, but the lure of the OR overcame me and I signed on for a 9 month internship there instead. I'm sticking it out for at least another year because I want to travel and I think periop traveling would be really cool.

I bet you're like me, you've always known you were hardworking and smart, people have always told you you were hardworking and smart, you've always been successful at jobs and liked by coworkers because of your good attitude. Then comes the OR where people prefer a hellbitch that can fix the bronchoscope and find the big berthas over a clueless newbie who really wishes she could help. It sucks to be us! my favorite is my manager, who is always asking 'Do you like working here?' I mean, what kind of masochist likes a job where everyone thinks she is a big dummy and they whisper about all the stupid things she does but the never offer to help her out so she'll do fewer stupid things in the future, a job where she is two-steps behind all day and being barked at from all directions and blamed for basically anything that goes wrong.

My program started with 5 interns and one has quit and another is on the bubble. As the interns are all hardworking, smart, and kind people, I'm really trying to get them to stay. I'm hoping enough nice people will water down the power of the evil ones.

My recommendations--

1. Go to three 12-hour shifts if you can. That's just 13 or 14 days a month :)

2. Yoga. Running. Reading. Lying in the sun. Drinking. Whatever it is that takes the edge off for you.

3. Befriend the med students and surgical interns. They feel exactly like you do! The other day I handed a sterile gown to an intern in line to get gloved. He looked at me all 'deer in headlights' because he wasn't sure how to open it. Sure I could've enjoyed a laugh at his expense. But instead we walked away from the crowd and I helped him. Then I found a Bonney forcep for a med student wanting to practice suturing. Bingo--instant allies.

4. Tell your manager how you feel. Our floor started up an intern support meeting which meets once or twice a month. All the nurse interns from diff services get together and mostly vent. But our manager and our educator attend so at least they know what's going on.

5. Stick it out for your year and then consider a smaller OR. For me, the top ten name will help me land a good travel job (I hope) so it's worth it. But I've observed in smaller ORs and people seem nicer.

6. Take advantage of tuition reimbursement. Start a BSN or MSN. Just the thought of the opportunities you might have in the future can make the present bearable.

7. Realize that surgeons aren't better than you, or smarter than you. They're just people that spent 15 years studying the same thing (and then expect you to know everything after 6 months.)

8. Report anything that crosses the line. Cursing, throwing instruments, making a fuss big enough to risk patient safety, etc. Most big hospitals are university affiliated and the university will have a code of conduct in place. Maybe nothing will happen if you report it, but at least the MD knows you're not a complete pushover...and if he crosses the line repeatedly there will be a papertrail to show that you made management aware and they didn't fix the problem.


49 Posts

One more suggestion: massages! :)

You think you can't afford them but really at this mst stressful time in your career you can't afford to skimp on taking care of yourself!

And if all else fails, consider temporary meds just to get you through the internship period. My PCP will not give benzos to healthcare professionals, a position which I highly respect. She did offer me an antidepressant in nursing school but as my problem was more nerves--specifically sweating and shaking--than depression I declined.

I ended up with a prescription for low-dose propranolol which many classical musicians take prior to performances to steady the fingers. It was just what I needed to get me through my first few IV starts. It doesn't do anything for your emotional anxiety--just slows down the old SNS, makes the job feel more like a job and less like being chased by a hungry shark on a deserted beach. I got a refill to get me through my first few weeks of scrub training. Maybe it's placebo effect but I notice a real difference in my performance.

Hang in there! You can do it!


10 Posts

Yeah, stick it out. The new peeps need someone to be nice to them! Dont look to the OR for to your friends about the OR. There is a reason why there are so many hospital shows on tv, huh!

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