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Looking for Your Perioperative Dream Job?

Perhaps you just graduated from nursing school and you are considering a career in the OR? Maybe you are an experienced perioperative nurse feeling less than motivated in your current position? No matter where you are in your nursing career, your dream job is out there waiting for you—all you need is the courage to find it!

"We reflexively close our hearts in anticipation of fear, disappointment or pain. But that reaction is more limiting than protective,” says nursing career coach Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN-BC in a recent LinkedIn post.

By staying open to possibilities and taking time to understand the kind of nursing practice you want to pursue, you can open your mind to the possibilities of professional fulfillment. Once you make the decision to advance your nursing career in a meaningful way, it takes perseverance to get yourself out there and show your leaders you’ve got what it takes.

Here are five steps to get you on your way.

Step 1. Create a Vision of Your Dream Job

Any job search requires self-reflection to match your strengths with where you want to practice, including professional routes outside of the traditional inpatient setting such as ambulatory care, a rural hospital, the military or even industry sales. Creating this vision of your ideal workplace scenario is beneficial in seeking out jobs you may be interested in, versus jobs that could pay well or be in a good location but don’t truly offer what you need for professional satisfaction.  Dr. Quinlan offers AORN members personal career coaching to help determine desired professional direction and then helps create a pathway to get there.

Step 2. Put Your Qualifications on Paper

Build a strong resume that is dialed in to the job you want and is organized in the best way to sell yourself. For example, an experienced nurse should lead with clinical expertise, while a new grad will want to start off by selling the key points of his or her educational background. 

The key with a resume is to make it stand out in the right way for your future employer, so focus on making the right details pop. In trying to determine what should make the cut, ask yourself if you met an ambitious goal or earned special recognition that was impactful, yet also relevant to the job you want, according to Lily Zhang, a career development specialist at MIT featured on

Step 3. Promote Yourself

You could be more than qualified for a number of jobs in your “dream” category, but if you aren’t sharing your qualifications and interest in seeking the job, how will the hiring managers know you are out there? They won’t.

Make sure you have an effective online presence to catch the attention of future employers by creating an online job-seeker profile through AORN’s Career Center. Your profile can clearly display specific skills, accomplishments, and career victories and it can be updated as often as you like. This will ensure you present the most current reflection of your knowledge and professional skills. 

Create your profile here.

Step 4. Network, Network, Network

Personal conversations and group engagement through face-to-face professional networking gives you immediate access to a wealth of potential employers and also shows employers you have a passion and are committed to continually advancing your profession. 

Getting out into the real world also gives hiring managers a chance to get to know you and your qualities as a human being, which can be particularly valuable if you have qualification gaps between you and your dream job, advises employment expert Peter Weddle of Weddle’ 

AORN’s Global Surgical Conference & Expo offers ample opportunities to speak directly with hiring managers from top health systems in the conference exhibit hall. There are also numerous chances to network with colleagues at educational presentations offered throughout the conference that are organized by specific specialty and care settings. 

Step 5. Never Stop Learning

“Successful people invest in themselves,” stresses Dr. Quinlan in a recent blog post at She says gaining a skill or knowledge set is something you can take with you anywhere you go and it can open doors to your employment opportunities, and remove barriers by addressing skill set liabilities. 

Making the effort to take time on your own for a skills course or development training is something that can bridge the gap between you and your ideal job. Dedicating time for education can also serve as stepping stone to network with colleagues and fill the gap until you get hired.  

Find your dream job at AORN’s Career Center job postings with open positions updated daily. 

Learn more about Dr. Quinlan and career coaching at MFW Consultants.