Surgery – the treatment of injuries or illnesses through invasive medical manipulations – is no walk in the park. Safe and successful operations on the human body take time, patience, and a whole team of highly-trained professionals. Doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, and other specialized medics must be able to work together for the ultimate good of the patient. That’s why hiring the right nursing staff for your OR is vital. And making a good hire begins with asking the right questions at the first interview. By determining the motivations, training, expertise, and ability to communicate effectively with patients and their medical team, your organization will find qualified OR nurses before you can say ‘scalpel!”

What is an OR Nurse?

Operating Room Nurses wear all the same hats that other RNs do, and more. An OR nurse is responsible for patient care before, during, and after surgery. Nurses holding this multifaceted title may be responsible for basic perioperative care, room maintenance or surgical assistance during operation, and acting as a liaison between the medical team, the patient, and the patient’s family. 

In order to become an OR nurse, potentials must complete a two-year nursing program and receive their Associate’s degree before acquiring a Registered Nursing license. Many OR positions do not require nurses to hold a Bachelor’s degree, although it is preferred by most employers. 

RNs should have a minimum of one year of bedside experience before they pursue OR specific education. Through internships or other learning opportunities, potentials can gain operating room experience to earn qualifications which will make them eligible for full-time employment as an OR nurse. After two years of such training, nurses may take the Certified Nursing Operating Room Examination. Extensive additional post-certification instruction enables nurses to become RN First Assistants, and deliver direct surgical care. 

Interview Questions for OR Nurses

OR Nurse Interview Questions for Education and Training

  1. Briefly describe your educational background, from your initial training as a nurse, to your continuing education as an OR professional.
  2. What types of operations do you have the most experience in as an OR nurse?
  3. Walk me through the steps that you personally take when scrubbing in for surgical assistance.
  4. Do you have experience in active OR maintenance? Please describe the duties you performed in this position.
  5. Please describe an average work day for you as an OR nurse. Include examples of perioperative care, surgery suite assistance for a routine operation, and post-operative care. 

OR Nurse Interview Questions for Patient Care

  1. Please describe how you might speak to a patient who is experiencing extreme anxiety prior to their operation.
  2. How would you go about preparing a patient for a tracheotomy or other special operation?
  3. How might you react if you noticed that there was something wrong with a patient’s vital signs during surgery?
  4. What three questions must you always ask a patient prior to surgery?
  5. Please describe a standard procedure for post-surgical patient care, after a successful operation, an unsuccessful operation, and a complex operation. 

OR Nurse Interview Questions for Role-Specific Duties

  1.  Please describe the sterile technique, and provide an example of a break in the implementation of said technique.
  2.  How might you go about preparing for an operation in which you had no prior experience?
  3.  How would you go about setting up the operating room to receive a patient who had a latex allergy?
  4. Please describe the actions you might take if you had noticed that the sterile field was contaminated.
  5. Please explain why surgical skin preparation is important, and describe how you would go about doing it. 

OR Nurse Interview Questions for Behavior

  1. Please describe a conflict you had with another nurse or a surgeon. How was the conflict resolved?
  2. Please describe to me a procedure with which you are familiar, using the language you would use with a curious patient who was not familiar with medical terminology.
  3. Please describe how you might attempt to calm a worried family member.
  4. Please describe a situation in which you noticed a mistake or inefficiency in the OR. What did you do to address it?
  5. What was the most difficult operation you’ve ever assisted on? What lessons did you take away from it, and how has it affected your career as an OR nurse since?

OR Nurse Interview Questions for Core Values and Motivation

  1. Why did you choose to become a nurse?
  2. What is your reason for deciding to specialize in OR nursing? What qualities do you possess that you feel would enable you to perform the duties required by this position?
  3. Please describe a time you went above and beyond the requirements of your job to assist on a difficult operation. Why did you feel the actions you took were necessary?
  4. Nursing is a career which can be emotionally and physically taxing. How do you take care of your emotional well being both inside and outside of work in order to show up for your job fully?
  5. What is the most difficult aspect of nursing? The most rewarding?

Successful OR teams are constructed of qualified medical professionals who go above and beyond the requirements of their work to benefit the patient, and the organization as a whole. By leveraging this sample interview guide, your clinic or hospital will be able to find OR Nurses who are a perfect fit. 

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