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What Qualifications Do Operating Room Nurses Need?

Did you know that registered nurses in America make over $75,000 annually on average? There are many job openings and operating room nurses are no exception.

Have you considered training to be an operating room nurse? Do you know what nursing qualifications you need for the job?

The following guide will explore all the steps to take when becoming a surgical nurse. Read on and learn if this exciting nursing career path is right for you.

What Are Operating Room Nurses?

An operating room nurse works with patients while they’re prepped for surgery. The OR nurse also interacts with family members of patients. They’re a crucial member of the interdisciplinary care team.

Surgical nurses help check in patients before surgery. They also plan steps to carry out during and after the procedure. It’s a great nursing position if you enjoy direct patient care and work well under pressure.

OR nurses typically work in surgical departments, ambulatory surgery centers, and day-surgery units. They can also work in physician offices and clinics that conduct invasive procedures.

There are several surgical sub-specialties an operating nurse can pursue. Examples include neurosurgery, cardiac surgery, pediatrics, oncology, trauma, and transplant surgery.

Some OR nurses choose less common specialties like urology and ophthalmology. Dental, orthopedics, plastic, and reconstructive surgery options are also available.

Education Requirements

Operating room nurse training includes a combination of education and on-the-job experience.

Applicants must have a good standing RN license to become surgical nurses. You must complete at least a 2-year Associate’s Degree in Nursing program for the license.

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing is not needed for all OR nurse positions. However, many employers prefer applicants with a BSN. Some employers ask applicants to finish getting the degree after starting the job.

Positions typically require some amount of operating room nurse training. New graduates usually complete an internship program or one year of bedside experience.

There are also extra certifications for specific OR nurse positions. CRNFA certification is for surgical nurses who assist the surgeon.
CSSM is for OR Managers and CNS-CP is for Clinical Nurse Specialists.

Other Qualities

Operating room nurses need to be very detail-oriented. They also need excellent time management skills. OR nurses often handle many tasks at once.

Although, surgical nurses also need to be flexible and ready for sudden changes. Critical thinking in a fast-paced environment is a must.

OR nurses usually have great technical skills. They have the ability to communicate well and work within a team.

Emotional stamina is also crucial because the job deals with life-threatening situations. OR nurses frequently interact with anxious family members as well.

General Duties

OR nurses coordinate the usage of supplies, instrumentation, and other equipment for surgery. They make sure the equipment is working correctly before procedures.

Operating room nurses must follow patient safety standards. They watch, record, and relay the patient’s condition to the rest of the team.
OR nurses manage patient care before, during, and after the surgery.

They consider the age and specific cultural needs of patients. Or nurses also
check the patient’s biological, educational, psychosocial, emotional, and developmental status.

All of the previously mentioned duties get performed with minimal supervision. Employers expect OR nurses to further develop while on the job and learn quickly.

Specific Roles

The pre-Op nurse handles preparing the patients for their surgical procedure. Examples include collecting vital signs, looking at health history, and starting IVs.

They conduct a patient assessment to make sure they’re healthy enough for surgery. Part of the process involves verifying paperwork and providing emotional support to families.

The Intra-Op nurse works directly inside the operating room. They often assist the surgeon by working as a Circulator. It ensures that the environment is sterile and controlled.

Intra-Op nurses also confirm the availability of all necessary equipment, supplies, and personnel. For example, they have anyone entering the OR fill out the necessary paperwork.

The Post-Op nurse handles patient tasks in the recovery room. This happens immediately after the surgery. They assist patients when they wake up from anesthesia and monitor their wellbeing.

Patients usually stay in the recovery room for 1 to 3 hours depending on their condition. The Post-Op nurse then sends the patient home or chooses to transfer them back to the hospital for more care.

Operating room directors are another sub-category of OR nurses. They handle the business side of running an operating room. The role includes budget management, staffing, and ordering supplies and equipment.

The director position also prepares nurses for other management roles like consulting. It also helps prepare clinical nurse educators and workers in medical technology.

Medical-surgical nurses give patient care to those recovering after surgery. They closely watch them immediately following post-PACU and critical care. These nurses administer medication and watch for bleeding and infection.

RN first assistants work with the surgeon to help limit bleeding. They assist with suturing and monitoring complications.

The assistants also apply dressings and bandages and handle several other tasks. Keep in mind you’ll need extra education and training to become an RNFA.

Starting Your Surgical Nursing Career

Now you know what operating room nurses do to begin their careers. The required education combined with other skills makes OR nurses successful. It’s a very fast-paced profession that’s critical to surgical procedures.

Remember this guide and consider all the roles and duties of a surgical nurse. It’s a demanding position, but the pay and opportunity to help others make it an excellent career.

You can contact us if you have more questions about job opportunities.

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