Would OR nursing be a good fit for me?

Specialties Operating Room


Hi all. I am seriously considering becoming a nurse. I am worried about how good I will be at dealing with patients. Please don't get the wrong idea; I am not afraid to get my hands dirty, and I am not thinking of doing this to marry a doctor. (I am already married.)

I DO have compassion for people and want to help them, but the truth is...I don't have a lot of patience with people. I think I would love taking care of sick people and relieving their suffering, but I know that I am not the most friendly person. For example, I am not great at small talk, or at making other people feel comfortable. I am rather shy.

As a nurse I would want to use my technical skills and training more than my "people skills". Would the OR be a good place to do this, or should I just forget about nursing altogether? What about the SICU? Yes, I know that no matter what, I will need to interact with people, so please don't think that I am trying to avoid that completely.

Any advice would be appreciated.


439 Posts

Specializes in Community, Renal, OR.

I would encourage you to become a nurse, it is the most versatile career available. I have worked in the OR and my only concern is that you say you are rather shy. There are a lot of people in the OR with antisocial behaviour, not just the surgeons. The people who are most successful are those with a high self esteem. However, having said that it is a fantastic area to work in with a lot of adrenaline rushes.

Another area that I love is renal dialysis, either an acute or chronic area. This area also combines technical knowledge with humanistic values.

Another area that is opening up is research. I have several friends, also RN's, who are working with a research team as a research nurse, that may be an area that interests you.




87 Posts

My one regret is that I didn't pursue my interest in OR nursing. I am an inactive LPN but when we did the OR rotation it was my favorite. If I ever go back to being active in nursing I would go straight for my OR training. A lot of the hospitals train their OR people themselves. I say go for it. It's nice and cool in there, the doctors are a bit difficult at times if things aren't done their exact way but they are there so you're not on your own, and the patient is unconscious and no family to deal with so pretty good set up. One other downside is that the is higher for an OR nurse. Best to you and I hope you do it!!!!!!!!!!!


53 Posts

Not one of the above posts sound as if they have any real OR experience. I am charge nurse in a small rural 2 room OR suite that does anywhere from 5-12 surgeries a day with 3 RN's, 3 techs, and 2 nurse anesthetists. OR can be all warm fuzzies on light days. It can be sheer Hell on others. Tempers flare often and a nurse who is not assertive, yet flexible, cannot do well there. An OR nurse must think fast on her (his) feet and respond quickly to requests and demands. She must challenge the doctor when there is no H&P on the chart and when he continues to close even though there is an unaccounted instrument.

Surgery is an incredibly frightening place for a patient. We pump drugs into them, knock them out, then do terrible things to their bodies. Good OR nurses are compassionate and loving, establishing a rapport with patient and family before surgery, holding patients' hands and whispering reassurance as they drift off.

A good nurse must be many things, but most of all, caring to the patients. Frankly, you don't sound like nurse material. Anyone who admits they have little patience with people should not even consider a nursing career, because, believe me, nurses see the worst side of people. Actually, I do not understand why you would consider any kind of service position!


431 Posts

I like to think that nursing is a big enough field that even us shy types can find our niche. And with practice, making small talk does get easier. People skills can be learned as well as clinical skills. (At least this has been true for me in other areas of my life. I expect that nursing will be the same way.) Not all of us were born Chatty Cathys and that's okay. Good luck to you!


439 Posts

Specializes in Community, Renal, OR.

I would like to respond to VictoriaG,

I am certified in both OR nursing and nephrology nursing and have a MSN.

I spent 18 years in a operating suite with 15 theatres, at a hospital that has a staff of 3500 and treats more than one quarter of a million patients annually. My OR speciality was cardiothoracic/cardiovascular.

I made a career change in nursing speciality to nephrology, not because I was disatisfied with OR, but because I wanted to have more contact with patients.

I chose nephrology because I have done many, many organ procurements and heart, heart/lung, & kidney transplants. I have also had patients who had AAA repairs, bypass operations etc, end up with renal failure and on dialysis due to complications.

I currently work 3 shifts in dialysis and 2 in OR, mostly vascular.

What I love about dialysis is that I experience a continuity of care within a patient population. I also have the pleasure of caring for them if they need to come to the OR, which is often for access formation/revision. Which of course is the vascular theatre, so they love it when they know I will be there too, and I find it very rewarding.

I rarely discourage anyone from exploring the idea of becoming a nurse, they may not become a nurse, but the insight gained by exploring their motivation is valuable to them as a developing individual. I don't believe that everyone is a "born" nurse, but that with education and nurturing, people skills, as well as clinical skills can be learnt by novices.


15 Posts

VictoriaG said-

"Frankly, you don't sound like nurse material. Anyone who admits they have little patience with people should not even consider a nursing career, because, believe me, nurses see the worst side of people. Actually, I do not understand why you would consider any kind of service position!"

YIKES!!! It must be magic working with you.


458 Posts

VictoriaG, you sound more like "drill sergeant" material more than "nurse material" yourself. Please get a grip and get off your pedestal PRONTO. A little encouragement never hurt anybody.

Grace.....you can do anything you set your mind to. Believe me...getting through nursing school will give you more confidence than you ever imagined.



4 Posts

In response to VictoriaG,

I just love all the comments about your response. All the "nurturing, giving encouragement, and don't discourage" comments are very interesting. I believe GraceM wanted honest opinions based on the information that she provided. VictoriaG in my opinion was on the money. I have been in the surgery setting for 19 years at a 12 room OR and GraceM would not last a day there. You have to be caring and have people skills to work in the OR. Shyness is a liability in this setting. You have to be able to comfort a patient that is scared to death, able to handle the difficult doctors, to stand up for your patients rights when management is wanting you to run them through like cattle. By the attributes that GraceM described herself as having, she wouldn't last a week in surgery. Now she sounds like she would be great as a medical transcriptionist. They make a decent wage and they don't have to mess with that one on one relationship. She can even do that from her own home if she wanted. But lay off of VictoriaG, she was just being bluntly honest.



586 Posts

There is something called "tact" that could have been used.




Now if that doesnt scare you nothing will.


You have a tender side in which you admit, thats fine and you may find yourself shy as well but that will blossom the more you are in the feild. If you like the OR setting then please feel free to try it, you have more patient contact than what you think, You speak with them and you speak with the family and you are in contact with your co workers as well and the more you get to know them the more you will open up.

Im not to sure on the advice of one that has posted here, and Personally as an experienced OR Nurse, Im floored by her response to you and basically I wouldnt work with her because her attitude reeks too much for my pallet. But some of her points were true as well. There are times in which you have to put your foot down and there are times in which you wish you could put your foot up something as well. But its all about control and how well you control the situation at hand.

Not everyone comes out of school gung ho or even the drill status its learned and if this is something that you wish to go into then please try it , you just may see something inside of yourself that you have never seen before.

You also may find that OR isnt your bag and thats ok too, there are many areas in Nursing that you may find your nitch in, but how will you ever know if you dont try them.

The compassion you have for people is the best start anyway there are so many now in the field that have lost thier compassion and possibly being around you will spark thiers as well. Compassion is the root of caring and if you build on that aspect you will become more than you give yourself credit for.




12 Posts

All, thank you all for your honest and sometimes encouraging responses. I feel like I need to clarify something that I did not make clear in my original post. I am not shy when it comes to dealing with people professionally. I can deal with peers, and nothing about dealing with doctors intimidates me.

The thing I lack is the ability to make small talk with strangers. I am afraid I won't be able to find the right words that my patients will need to hear. As an example, when a stranger gets in an elevator with me and starts a conversation, I get nervous and clam up. I don't know what to say. But in meetings at work in my current profession (marketing) I have no problem speaking up or letting people know what I think.

Does that make any sense?

+ Add a Comment

By using the site, you agree with our Policies. X