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Is Working in the OR Right for You?

4/23/2013 2:35 pm

Emergency Room

One of the reasons having a career in nursing is so exciting is because there are so many possible specializations. Nurses can works in hospitals or doctors' offices, or even help patients by administering home care. Working in the operating room - also known as the OR - alongside surgeons is a specific form of patient care that, given the right skills, can be a great career opportunity for nurses.

OR circulators must be registered nurses and sit for their National Council for Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN) as well as the Certified Nurse Operating Room exam (CNOR). Individual states may also have specific licensure requirements.

The work day of OR circulators differs from a standard nursing job in a hospital in that they generally assigned to day shifts, generally working from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and having time off on weekends and holidays, unlike many general RNs.

Although it certainly has its perks, working in the OR means you will need to be physically strong and have the ability to stand for longs periods of time and lift patients and heavy equipment. Surgery can be a high-stress environment, and OR circulators must be able to think critically and quickly, adapting to any situation that may arise.

If you have the skills for it, working in the OR can be an amazing experience, because you will witness and assist with surgeries on a daily basis. You may also be able to choose a specialty that most suits you, including orthopedics and neurology.


Western Governors University is a nonprofit, accredited, online university. WGU offers online RN to BSN, BSN to MSN, and RN to MSN degree programs to working nurses who already have a current RN license. Find out more about WGU's College of Health Professions!

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