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What can I do to achieve my goal of getting back into OR nursing after being away from it?


I have worked almost 40 years as an RN. I loved OR, scrub and circulating nursing and worked as a preceptor. That was 26 years ago. I know technology has changed, but I believe half the battle is knowing what is expected in each of those roles. Despite my experience, I cannot seem to get hired. What can I do to achieve my goal and get the training I need to be proficient?

Loves OR Nursing

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Loves OR Nursing,

Don’t take it personally. The job market for nurses has completely changed in the last five years. As care shifts out of the hospital into alternate inpatient care settings and outpatient and ambulatory care settings, hospital jobs for nurses are shifting too. This shift has created an abundance of experienced hospital nurses. So hospitals, for the most part, are hiring only nurses with current experience. Most are not even hiring new nurses or very few of them. Even though you are not a new nurse, read “New nurse new strategies” ( /Strategies) to understand what is happening and see what you need to do to market yourself in today’s world.

If you are determined to get back to OR-type nursing, (inpatient or outpatient), you can look for perioperative nursing training courses offered in your area. Check with your state chapter of AORN ( to see what’s available. You should attend local chapter meetings even as a guest. When there’s something you want to do, it makes sense to rub elbows with those already doing that job. Networking is well known to be a very effective way to find a job and is a good way to help get you up to date on issues and trends in the profession/specialty.

Because you have been out for some time, seek any type of nursing volunteer position while you continue to look for paid employment. It gives you recent, relevant experience to put on a resume, expand your professional network, hone old skills, learn new ones and build confidence. Volunteer work also often leads to paid employment. Volunteer work is a good way to ease your way back into the nursing work world. Look for volunteer opportunities in a free clinic, local public health department and so on.

You don’t mention your educational background but know that a BSN has become standard for most hospitals to hire. That’s true of many other employers as well. If you do not have a BSN, take steps to get back to school. You’re never too old to further your education and there is plenty of scholarship money available for those who go after it.

Here’s an article to give you the big picture of the world of nursing now and in the future: “Nursing – A new paradigm” (

Start moving forward with the above steps, including those in the referenced articles, and see where the road leads you.

Best wishes,

By | 2014-02-05T00:00:00-05:00 February 5th, 2014|Categories: Blogs, Nursing Careers and Jobs|0 Comments

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