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Why Choose Operating Room Nursing?

Updated on December 22, 2011

Operating room nurses must be energetic, organized and able to remain calm under pressure. Excellent prioritization skills are necessary to meet the constantly changing needs of the patient. Assertiveness and first-rate communication techniques are essential to relay vital information to team members.

The ever-changing technical advances mean an OR Nurse must assimilate new information constantly. In a place where seconds can make the difference between a good outcome or a bad one, the OR nurse's memory is continually challenged.

I maintain that a little Psych nursing backround is always good to have in an OR. Patients are distracted and worried and must be put at ease. Surgeons can be demanding and have unrealistic expectations. Co-workers are a strong-willed group. The nurse is called on to orchestrate this entire ensemble into a cohesive team to obtain good outcomes for the patient.

Surgery is a demanding place. It will push you to your limits mentally and physically. There will be days when the docs yell at you...and times when you drag yourself home so tired you can barely remember your name.

But, if you are like me and love a good challenge and the chance to excel, you may also love the rollercoaster ride of an OR nurse.

You May Have to be an OR Nurse to Understand the Humor :D

Why Even Try This Challenge?

Money, money, may not be the only reason, but it's a good start. The average salary of a registered nurse in 2009 was $66,530. This is well above the average wage of $43,460, which was the average of all occupations.

Operating room nurses generally make more money due to being "on-call". "On-call" means that you must be able to come to work at the drop of a hat when called. You receive a minimal hourly stipend (usually about 5 to 10 dollars an hour) to be on-call. If you are called in, you are paid time and a half.

The amount of call an operating room nurse is required to take monthly depends on the type of facility they work in. Many large hospitals staff their operating rooms 24/7. You still take call, but it works out to less and you do not get called in as often. Smaller hospitals may only staff one shift. This means longer call shifts and being called in more often.

Call is a love-hate relationship for most operating room nurses. It is an opportunity to make extra money (and lots of it), but it's no fun having to stay 15-30 minutes from the hospital at all times. I've had to leave full shopping carts, movies and meals to go to work.


Nursing is a caring profession. We nurses actually do care about the people we care for. If you destest people and their pain, do not look to nursing as a career. Nurses are people who find personal satisfaction in helping others.

Instant Gratification

The operating room is one of the few places that can supply the caregiver with instant gratification.  The client comes in broken, and we fix them and send them home.  Of course this is not the scenario 100% of the time...but close enough.

Personal Satisfaction

I strive to improve myself on a daily basis. I have strong beliefs that we are here for each other. We each should try to make a positive improvement in other people's lives. I go home at night and know, without doubt, that I have helped make another person's life go a little easier. I get personal satisfaction by doing these things...and as a nurse, I am also paid to do these things.


Most nurses enjoy a long list of employee benefits:  Medical, dental and vision insurance; Life and ADD insurance; retirement plans; pension accounts; long-term and short-term disability;discounts to fitness centers, chiropractors, phone plans and more.

Many facilities still offer sign-on bonuses and paid relocation for specific units.  OR is almost always one of them.

Operating room nursing is not for every one.

It is a profession that requires constant learning.  Constant learning while being pressured to go faster.  The first year is the hardest.  If you can last the first year, you will find things do get better. 


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