Trauma ICU to OR or PACU??

Specialties Operating Room

Updated:   Published

Specializes in Surgical Trauma ICU.


I just started my nursing job January 10th. I have no previous experience I started in the Surgical Trauma ICU. I HATE it. I’ve become depressed and have such bad anxiety I have never had before. I’m so stressed it’s taken a horrible toll on my mental health. I want to go to a 9-5 less stress office type job. Or to the OR. I want to know what I’m walking into everyday. I want boring. I don’t want to work any night shifts. HELP. Any advice ?? I can’t even last 6 months at this job. People tell me to give it time, but I know these feelings won’t go away. 

Specializes in OR, Nursing Professional Development.
6 hours ago, LinLouiseStarr said:

I want to know what I’m walking into everyday. I want boring. I don’t want to work any night shifts

You may not find this in the OR. The OR also deals with the unexpected: unplanned surgeries (trauma, aortic dissections, perforated bowel, etc.); codes, and other emergency situations that aren't boring and we don't know what we are walking into. If there aren't staff in house for night shift, we are on call. Sometimes, even if there are staff in house for night shift, we come in on call.

That being said, the first year or two of any nursing job is hard. It doesn't matter what specialty. It's the transition from student to licensed nurse. Have you reached out for help with your mental health?

I second @Rose_Queen.  The OR isn't necessarily predictable or boring and I have found most of the time it is neither.  A same day/ambulatory surgery center may be more so of those things, but ASCs are typically very fast paced and I wouldn't say "boring."  As Rose Queen said, working in the OR you never know what you are walking into when you come in for your shift.  Emergent hearts, cranis, bowel perforations, depending on what level trauma center you are at you may be getting gunshot wound victims.  Many of us take call as well and are expected to come in if needed in the middle of night where you have very limited resources and are expected to know what you are doing and handle anything that occurs.  I love working in the OR but it was a steep learning curve for me, especially coming from the floor.  It is hard to be successful without completely a peri-operative education program like Peri-op 101 without having any prior OR experience.  

If the ICU isn't for you, that's okay.  If you feel like you need boring and predictable, thats okay too.  But maybe you are just overwhelmed, overstimulated, and just not vibing with your current position and maybe you don't need "boring" and "predictable."  Sometimes just getting away from your current position and into something that better fits your work style, personality, life style, and just general interests will be what gets you feeling more comfortable. 

I wanna end with although I know it gets old hearing "give it time" sometimes time does help.  Anything new is overwhelming and as nurses we inherently want to do a great job and know everything and be masters at our craft.  That comes with time and experience and it helps to have a working environment nurturing of that.

Best of luck to you in your future endeavors.  

If you want a job where you know what to expect everyday try dialysis. Dialysis you do the same thing everyday and all the problems that can go wrong are basically the same. The hardest part of the job is learning the machine once you got that you can do it. 

Try and stay at current job just a few more months to have one year of experience. After a year of ICU experience, you will have so many choices of different areas to transfer into. You may really like PACU. Sometimes it is very busy, a lot of turnover, a lot of pain and nausea meds, sometimes it is a lot of sitting and monitoring.

Specializes in ICU, Trauma, CCT,Emergency, Flight, OR Nursing.

I agree, the last place you want to be is the OR if you are stressed out mentally in the SICU. It definitely takes a certain personality type to work and thrive in acute environments such as ICU, OR, ED/ Trauma or Flight/ Critical Care Transport Nursing. You need to do what is best for your mental wellness and peace of mind. Luckily Nursing has so many different areas that one can work in that you will find your niche. Perhaps check out med/surg nursing , home health nursing, oncology/ hematology , occupational health nursing , research , infection control nursing, school nursing.  Best of luck.

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