How to Become a Perioperative Nurse

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Surgical procedures are essential forms of care and treatment in the medical field and surgeons need the help of supportive staff during surgical procedures. Perioperative nurses are registered nurses that help surgeons during many different surgical procedures and provide necessary care to patients.


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What does a perioperative nurse do?

Perioperative nurses specialize on the care of patients undergoing a variety of surgical procedures. They help surgeons during procedures by choosing and handling instruments, controlling patient bleeding, and stitching incisions. They also provide care to patients before, during, and after procedures. They make sure that patients are safe and constantly look out for the patient’s well-being. Perioperative nurses assist surgeons with the planning, implementation, and evaluation of surgical treatments. They perform patient assessments, monitor vital signs, and record their observations in patients’ medical charts. They also provide education to patients and families about follow-up care. Perioperative nurses are typically categorized as either a scrub nurse or circulating nurse. Scrub nurses pass instruments to surgeons and circulating nurses oversee the overall nursing care throughout procedures.

What kind of training does a perioperative nurse need?

Perioperative nurses must become registered nurses by completing a diploma, associate degree, or bachelor degree program in nursing. All nursing programs provide classroom and laboratory instruction and supervised clinical experiences. All registered nurses must become licensed by passing the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Many perioperative nurses also gain professional certification from the National Certification Board of Perioperative Nursing. They must complete regular continuing education to maintain their licenses and certifications, keep their skills current, and keep up to date on advancements in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as a perioperative nurse?

Employment of all registered nurses is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 23% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The growing and aging population and increased need for surgical procedures will drive job growth of perioperative nurses.

Job prospects should be great especially for perioperative nurses with professional certification and extensive experience. Numerous job openings will result from the need to replace perioperative nurses that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do perioperative nurses make?

As of December 2009, the average annual salary for perioperative nurses is $56,000; average annual perioperative nurse salaries vary greatly on location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as a perioperative nurse is a great choice for people interested in providing care to patients during many different surgical procedures. Perioperative nurses must have a solid understanding of many different surgical procedures and the required treatment and care practices. Patience, detail orientation, critical thinking, and good problem solving skills are essential characteristics. Perioperative nurses must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and ability to work effectively as part of a team. They must be quick on their feet and be able to make sound decisions in emergency situations.

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