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Can I become an OR nurse without training to be an RN first?



Dear Donna,

I am very interested in the medical field and would like to look into nursing as an option. My only issue is that I am not a people person, and I would prefer to work mainly in surgery. What additional requirements would I have to fulfill to become an OR nurse? Do I have to do staff nursing before becoming an OR nurse, or is there specialized schooling that would allow me to go straight into the OR?

Considering OR Nursing

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Considering OR Nursing,

To become an OR nurse, you first would need to be become a licensed RN and then you could specialize in OR nursing. Once you become an OR nurse, you can consider advancing into Registered Nurse First Assistant (RNFA) or Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) if interested. Once a student nurse, you also can join the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses ( as a student member.

While attending school, you could consider becoming an OR tech and working part time. This would give you great experience, exposure and contacts, and you could hit the ground running in OR nursing once you graduate. On the other hand, you might consider becoming an OR technician who assists in surgery, instead of becoming a nurse. This would allow you to go straight into OR training and you would not have to work or train anywhere else. You should note that the pay is lower and opportunities are fewer for OR techs. Many techs eventually go on to become RNs.

Learn more about the nursing profession at

Best wishes,


About Author

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at and, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://www.

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