Operating Room Nursing Part 2
OR Nurse Salary and Jobs

This is Part 2 of HospitalSoup.com’s interview with Operating Room Nurse Tammera Glenn and part of  “The Day in the Life…. Series by HospitalSoup.com as we profile exceptional medical professionals and provide our readers with an insight on what it’s like to work in the medical field as a health care professional.

Q. What type of education is necessary to prepare for a role as an OR staff nurse?
T.G. Nurses must graduate from an accredited nursing program. Programs range from two to four years in length. Entry level nursing education may be obtained through either a two year, associate degree program, a two to three year diploma program, or a four year university program. Educational components are comprised of both classroom instruction and clinical experiences that are supervised. Once the educational component is completed, in order to become licensed as a Registered Nurse one has to pass the NCLEX-RN licensing exam. At our hospital here in Lebanon, Oregon, we have training for new nurses that helps them become competent and proficient in the OR.

Q. What is the most positive aspect of your job?
T.G. Working with people. I have a great staff and they work very hard. When we have an emergency or are short staffed, employees come into my office and ask me what they can do to pitch in and help. We have a wonderful team, and I can’t say enough of my staff. Furthermore, I love the area, and get a lot of joy out of being with the patients. Throughout my nursing career I’ve had some great experiences. I used to work a lot with pediatrics. Being able to comfort a baby or child was wonderful. I love talking with patients and making children feel better.

Q. What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
T.G. Also working with people. Physicians all have different requirements and it’s a juggling act sometimes to try to meet everyone’s individual needs.

Q. Are there growing opportunities for OR nurses?
T.G. Absolutely. One can decide to practice as a staff RN, or go into an area of management, education, surgical specialist, RN First Assistant, or nurse anesthetist.

Q. How about room for advancement?
T.G. Definitely. You can basically decide how far you’d like to advance your nursing career. There are many different areas of nursing and advancement opportunities are plentiful.

Q. What’s the average salary for a operating room nurse?
T.G. It really depends on the area one is located. Rural vs. urban impacts how high one is paid. The average starting pay for an OR nurse in a smaller community is $12 to $13 an hour, yet other hospitals can pay up to $20 an hour. The overall average for an OR nurse is $16 to $17 an hour. For the management side, it really depends on level. A nurse manager makes an average of $50,000 a year. Our salary can go up to $80,000 to $90,000 depending on how large the hospital system, and the number of staff one supervises.

Q. What types of changes in nursing have taken place since you started?
T.G. There have been changes in technology that has made it a lot easier on the patient’s recovery following surgery. Salaries have improved. Since 1990, pay has increased by 47%. There is a shortage of nurses now and the boundaries of nursing responsibilities have increased. I think that nurses are being hired without enough education and experience because of this shortage. The advancement in technology has made it easier on patients but more difficult on health care professionals. Nurses and physicians must continually broaden their scope of knowledge due to new advancements. Laproscopic surgery has helped patients shorten their recovery time. Patients are having their gallbladders removed and leaving for home the same day. Surgery cases may be more complicated. For one case of surgery, there is a table full of instruments and monitors. This is just for one case. Each case generally has a different set of instruments and monitors, so there is a broad base of knowledge that one must have to work in the perioperative environment. Furthermore, in the OR, we have representatives continually teaching new procedures and we must learn new equipment as it is introduced.

Q. What would you tell someone who was interested in becoming an Operating Room Nurse?
T.G. Talk to people. Come see it, watch the process. Understand that coming to the OR as a career, means being on call. There are times when I have been called in at nine thirty at night, gotten home at one o’clock in the morning and been called again at five o’clock a.m. on the next day. Although it can be tiring, you understand that you must be available to provide care for the patients. And that means being on call because trauma cases or emergencies happen 24 hours a day. Additionally, I’d recommend that someone who is interested in perioperative nursing take a lot of classes, and obtain the best training that they can, and preferably shadow (which means to follow and observe someone as they work on the job) an OR staff nurse who is passionate about the job.

This concludes HospitalSoup.com’s interview with Tammera Glenn, RN, BSN, CNOR. HospitalSoup would like to thank Tammera for contributing her time, knowledge and experience for this article!

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