5 Things You Didn’t Know About OR Nursing

Bet you didn’t know these fascinating things about Operating Room Nursing. Explore these truths and share your own.

Number 1: The OR Needs New Nurses

The demographics of the OR nursing profession predict a possible shortage of OR nurses. According to the 2017 AORN Salary and Compensation Survey, the largest age group (31.2%) of OR nurses report as 50-59 years of age. 14.3% of respondents identified as 60 and over. If we add these figures together, 45.5% of the OR nursing workforce is over the age of 50. If this trend continues, the OR will need to hire new nurses and transition others into leadership roles as retirements occur. As a result, the OR is an opportunity-rich setting for resilient, tech-savvy nurses motivated to work hard in a fast-paced environment.

Number 2: You don’t need 2 years nursing experience to enter the OR

A minimum of 2 years of experience in a nonperioperative unit is often assumed to be a prerequisite to employment in perioperative nursing. The OR has one of the longest orientation periods in any specialty and much of the knowledge and skills are specialized and technical. However, there is no research-based evidence supporting a nursing experience requirement. Patricia Benner’s Novice to Expert framework suggests that even an experienced professional will regress in competency when moved into a new role. Focused perioperative nurse residency programs may be a better option for newly licensed nurses seeking transition into the OR.

Number 3: The OR is a Uniquely Challenging, Secure, and Flexible Employment Environment

Up to 60% of a hospital’s revenue may come from the OR. Surgical volumes continue to rise every year alongside rapidly evolving skill sets and technological innovations. These pressures coupled with long hours, physically demanding work, and tense interpersonal interactions contribute to high turnover rates in the OR. However, well-suited nurses can quickly and reliably find employment with base compensation ranging from $69,000 for a staff nurse to $134,600 for a director. The profession offers a tremendous amount of scheduling flexibility with options ranging from a few cases per week to full-time assignments nationwide for traveling nurses.

Number 4: Professional Development Opportunities are Diverse and Meaningful

Most nurses are familiar with continuing education and contact hours as a means for professional development. These classroom style learning opportunities are hosted by employers and professional organizations either in person or online. However, more active opportunities for OR nurses to leverage and develop their expertise and networks are worth exploring. Options include perioperative certification, academic study, teaching in an academic setting, presenting, clinical inquiry, publishing, precepting/mentoring, volunteer work, and professional organization activities. CCI recognizes these activities as valid routes to CNOR, CNS-CP, and Certified Surgical Services Manager (CSSM) recertification.

Number 5: CCI Offers OR Nurses More Than Accredited Credentials

CCI is committed to partnering with OR nurses in lifelong learning activities that result in better patient outcomes. While CCI may be best known for administering the CNOR and Certified Surgical Services Manager (CSSM) credentials, CCI also offers the Clinical Nurse Specialist Perioperative Certification credential (CNS-CP). CNS-CP is designed for the graduate prepared, advanced practice RN and recently transitioned from an exam to a portfolio system. Additional CCI resources include exam preparation products, professional development opportunities, and research funding. CCI connects OR nurses to online case studies, reflective exercises, and games that count towards credential recertification. CCI also issues an annual call for OR nurse volunteers; opportunities include exam development, educational product development, and participation on CCI’s governing bodies.

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