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Which to Choose - Main O.R. or Outpatient


I have the opportunity to choose between working as a circulator in a Level 1 trauma hospital's main O.R. (orientation 6 months) or their outpatient O.R. (orientation 3-4 months) I feel like the main O.R. would give me more knowledge, varied experience, and more future options, but after working one year in med-surg and finally leaving the floor, I'm kind of burned out and would welcome working in an area that isn't as acute, hence I'm leaning more towards the outpatient surgical setting. O.R. nursing is something I've wanted to do for a long time. I really just want to be happy with my job. Is it possible to make the move, if I wanted to in the future, to a main O.R. after only having outpatient surgery experience?


Specializes in Critical/Acute Care, Burns, Wound Care. Has 4 years experience.

"Is it possible to make the move, if I wanted to in the future, to a main O.R. after only having outpatient surgery experience?"

I'm sure it would be possible for you since they are offering the main O.R. job to you now with presumably ZERO O.R. experience and only med-surg floor experience. That's an amazing offer.

Personally, I enjoy the acute setting and would be bored out of my mind in the outpatient O.R. Being bored stiff is far worse than being very busy.

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 15 years experience.

Outpatient doesn't always mean less stressful or less acute- it just means the patients get to go home afterwards. The pace in outpatient tends to be much quicker as the procedures tend to be shorter. There is a lot of emphasis on "get 'em in and get 'em out". If the outpatient OR is freestanding, the backup is calling 911. Inpatient, you already have all the resources at your disposal. We once had a patient transferred from an outpatient facility to my OR when the surgeon hit a major blood vessel- it was messy and extremely stressful for the staff at the outpatient facility.

My recommendations? Go for the longer orientation period. Many OR nurses find that it takes them a full year to feel competent- the longer the orientation, the more time you have with support. Or, if you're still undecided, ask to shadow a nurse in each area for a full shift. Then you can see what it's really like.