9 Tips for New Operating Room Nurses

Updated | Published
by Rose_Queen Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN (Admin)

Specializes in OR, education. Has 17 years experience.

Transitioning into the role of an Operating Room (OR) nurse, whether a new grad or an experienced nurse changing specialties, can be overwhelming. Sometimes, those nurses wonder if they made the right decision in accepting the job. Here are a few tips that can help make that transition smoother.

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Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 17 years experience. 5 Articles; 10,983 Posts

On 12/19/2018 at 9:57 PM, Nurseroxieo said:

I'm in nursing school...and torn between L&D and OR...Any tips on choosing?

@Nurseroxieo the best way to decide is to spend some time shadowing in both areas. When in the OR, focus on what the nurse is doing, not the surgery itself. That's one thing I truly dislike about the observations nursing students complete in the OR- all of the questions have to do with the surgery itself and the anesthesia medications. That's certainly important and does affect care once out of the periop environment, but it doesn't give the students an actual look into the role of the circulator or scrub. It's truly disheartening how many nurses throughout the years have come to my OR and within a year of completing orientation are leaving for elsewhere because it wasn't what they expected. (Sorry for the soapbox speech). Beyond that, it truly may come down to a pros and cons list- the shifts available (day, night, 8/10/12 hours), the amount of call (L&D isn't necessarily exempt from call, and depending on staffing may even be more than an OR), and so much more.



15 Posts

Thank you for this post! I start my new nurse grad residency in the OR in July. I’m a nervous wreck, but very excited! Any tips are appreciated!

RickyRescueRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU, Trauma, CCT,Emergency, Flight, OR Nursing. Has 26 years experience. 154 Posts

Love this post and all the other comments. After 22 yrs in ICU, ED, Trauma and Flight nursing, I'm getting an interview on Thursday for our hospital's 10 week peri-op 101 course. While I am excited , I'm also a bit anxious as I know that not much I've done prior will be useful to me as I enter this great new nursing specialty. Thanks for all the great pointers and RoseQueen's excellent advice and encouragement.

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 17 years experience. 5 Articles; 10,983 Posts

@hcurry1, here's one of the threads I mentioned.


Silver_Rik, ASN, RN

Specializes in Perioperative / RN Circulator. Has 2 years experience. 184 Posts

Thanks for all of your posts about the OR. I'm a new (December) grad and have been hired to start in perioperative next month. It’s a 6+ month orientation, periop 101, 2 year commitment.

800 bed level 1, 32 ORs and expanding to 41. 90 cases / day. One OR is 24x7 reserved for trauma cases. We’ll learn to circulate every surgical line from general to transplants, plus some scrub training. Facility doesn’t use RNFAs


Shelly19, BSN

Specializes in operating room 19 years. 1 Post

I am currently a surgical tech in operating room with 19 years scrubbing and I graduated from nursing school a few years ago but didn't pass NCLEX. I am currently studying again and will be passing and getting RN licence. I want to apply for operating room nurse in a hospital .. will I get any credit for my scrubbing years in pay? I would hope I won't have to start at bottom of RN pay I am sure I make more as a surgical tech.

Chris Choi

Chris Choi

1 Post

Just started OR in February; it's definitely overwhelming. It's completely different from my previous nursing experiences. I just finished up in general and now I'm in neuro. Definitely two very different service lines. I thought I was detail oriented until I got to the OR, but you have to be on point every time. I still don't know if I made the right decision going to the OR, but I'm giving it my best.



Has 7 years experience. 9 Posts

Hello everyone, I love OR. I wanted to be an OR nurse probably since age 5 or 6. Well, my dream becomes a reality. I never worked on the floor in the USA, so nothing to compare. In my OR as a nurse, you can not be slow-moving or thinking. You have to keep n eye n the situation and react quickly. It is also essential to be a quick learner. I love, OR I believe I am a bit on hyperactive site, it works perfectly for me, I can not stand a slow pace... but understand that OR is not for everyone.


aniretake, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR. 74 Posts

I just graduated and have 2 offers: Cath Lab or OR. And I cant decide....both are great offers and tracks I like...