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Is it Hard to Be an Operating Room Nurse?

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Operating room nursing is one of the hardest specialties out there, but not for the reasons you might think.

Today I’m going to go over one of the most common questions I get in regards to being an operating room nurse. Is it hard to be an operating room nurse?

Right after you graduate nursing school, there can be a lot of confusion around what specialty you want to go into. Although there are a lot of options, it is important to consider what you’re interested in, if you want to go to graduate school, and what type of career you want.

Is Operating Room Nursing Hard?

Operating room nursing can be hard. There are several reasons why it can be challenging, but it can be especially challenging for new-grad nurses.

Nurses might not get experience with operating room or surgical nursing during nursing school. So, it is vital that you try to get the best shadow experience you can when interviewing for operating room jobs.

While it can be difficult, being an operating room nurse is not impossible. It requires a lot of specialized training, but is definitely worth it in the end!

Why is Being an Operating Room Nurse Hard?

  • You don’t learn operating room nursing in school. Not having a surgical or OR rotation during school can make OR nursing challenging. Most surgery nurse residencies are up to a year long in order to teach you the ropes.
  • You might have to learn to scrub. One of the main roles of an operating room nurse is the scrub role. This is something that you do not learn in nursing school, so it is like you’re starting from scratch. Along with memorizing instrumentation, you have to learn different surgical techniques to be efficient in the role.
  • Typical nursing skills are not used as much. While there can be moments where you need to use your nursing skills, such as putting in a Foley catheter or assisting with an IV start, you probably won’t use them a lot. It is common for OR nurses to loose skills that other floor nurses use daily.
  • Operating rooms use a different charting system. Similar to the Emergency Departments, surgical departments often use a different form of charting. While this can vary from hospital to hospital, most OR’s will have a different workflow. This can make OR nursing difficult for anyone not familiar with this type of charting.
  • Surgeons can be difficult to work with. While this is not true about most surgeons or surgical staff, there are members of surgical teams that can have “different” personalities. If you want to work in the OR, then you’ll need to have thick skin to ignore when frustrating moments happen. Just remember that you are there for the patient, and they are your top priority.

What is the Hardest Part of Being an Operating Room Nurse?

In my opinion, the hardest part of OR nursing is learning to scrub. Scrubbing into surgery is not something we as nurses learn in school. However, many OR’s may expect nurses to know to scrub.

It is challenging to start from scratch to learn all of the instrumentation and surgical procedures. In addition, there are a lot of rules when it comes to sterility and draping. But, while it can be difficult, it is worth it in the end.

On the other side, scrubbing is my favorite part of OR nursing. It gives you a different perspective on what nurses can do, and a whole new view on surgery in general.

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Full Time Nurse

Striving to help nurses and nursing students succeed.

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