How to Become an Orthopedic Nurse

How to Become an Orthopedic Nurse

Orthopedic nursing is a branch of the nursing field that specializes on preventing and treating a variety of musculoskeletal conditions. Orthopedic nurses are registered nurses that provide care for many different patients suffering for muscular and skeletal conditions.

What does an orthopedic nurse do?

Orthopedic nurses care for patients with a variety of musculoskeletal conditions such as bone fractures, arthritis, joint replacement, and muscular dystrophy. They obtain medical histories, perform examinations and assessments, provide pain management, and perform treatment procedures. They also administer medication, check injury and surgery sites, and change bandages and dressings. They provide care to patients that undergo orthopedic surgery and help them regain their mobility and strength. They help patients feel as comfortable as possible and perform efforts to prevent complications. Orthopedic nurses also provide education to patients and families about follow-up care, self-care tasks, and the use of specialized equipment such as prosthetics and braces to help patients deal with their conditions.

What kind of training does an orthopedic nurse need?

Orthopedic nurses must become registered nurses by completing a diploma, associate degree, or bachelor degree in nursing. All nursing programs provide intensive classroom and laboratory instruction and supervised clinical experiences. All registered nurses must become licensed by passing the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). Many orthopedic nurses gain voluntary professional certification from the Orthopaedic Nursing Certification Board. Certification requirements include minimum work experience and passing a written examination. Orthopedic nurses must complete regular continuing education to maintain their licenses and certifications, keep their skills up to date, and stay abreast on advancements in the field. They often participate in seminars, workshops, and conferences.

What are the prospects for a career as an orthopedic 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 orthopedic care will drive job growth for orthopedic nurses.

Job prospects are expected to be great especially for orthopedic nurses with extensive experience. Many job openings will arise from the need to replace orthopedic nurses that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do orthopedic nurses make?

As of December 2009, the average annual salary for orthopedic nurses is $46,000; average annual orthopedic nurse salaries vary greatly on location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as an orthopedic nurse is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in orthopedics and providing care to a variety of patients. Orthopedic nurses must have a solid understanding of the care and treatment of many different musculoskeletal disorders. Physical stamina, patience, determination, detail orientation, and compassion are essential characteristics. Orthopedic nurses must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and ability to interact with a variety of patients and other healthcare professionals. They must be able to effectively work under stress and pressure and make effective decisions in emergency situations.

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