What Does an Operating Room Nurse Do?
Operating room nurses, more accurately referred to as perioperative nurses, provide care for patients before, during and after surgical procedures. Using a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach, they work alongside surgical teams and ensure that patients are receiving the best possible care. Before surgery, operating room nurses interview and assess patients to identify potential problems and determine the proper care they should receive on the day of surgery. Working closely with patients and their families, they are able to serve as a liaison between them and the surgical team to provide efficient communication and support. During surgery, operating room nurses monitor patients, coordinate patient care, and make sure that the surgical team is providing the best possible patient care. They support the surgical team by maintaining a sterile environment and assist the surgeon by selecting and handing him or her instruments and supplies needed for surgery. After surgery, these specialized nurses care for the patient in the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit, helping them with immediate recovery efforts and focusing on the life-sustaining needs of the patient. They also help prepare patients and families for life after surgery and teach them about at-home postoperative care.
How Can I Become an Operating Room Nurse?
If you are interested in a career as an operating room nurse, you must first earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or a relevant associate degree or diploma in nursing. You then must pass the NCLEX-RN exam to be granted a license to practice. After completing a program, you should try to earn some experience working as an RN in critical care and emergency room care, so you can learn how to practice in fast-paced, stressful and life-saving environments. To seek further specialization in the field of perioperative nursing, you can choose to enroll in professional development programs, continuing education courses and certification exams. These types of programs are accredited by professional bodies and typically available through professional organizations, hospitals and educational institutes. Upon completion, not only will you have learned your way around an operating room, but you will also have proved your expertise in areas like patient assessment, intraoperative activites, discharge planning, emergency situations and sterilization.
What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for an Operating Room Nurse?
With new advancements in surgical procedures and a growing elderly population that is more likely to undergo operations, operating room nurses can expect a positive career outlook. These emotionally stable nurses are able to handle difficult situations as they work in hospital surgical departments, emergency clinics, physicians’ offices and day-surgery units. It is essential for operating room nurses to possess physical strength and stamina as they spend their work day positioning patients, transporting surgical equipment and providing assistance during operations. At the entry level, those in the field of perioperative nursing can be employed as scrub nurses, circulating nurses, operating room charge nurses and outpatient surgery nurses. Advanced practice operating room nurses, who have additional education and training, can be operating room directors, nurse anesthetists, RN First Assistants and clinical educators. The salary outlook for these highly qualified nurses depends on the rank of position, as well as the type, size and location of the employer. According to Salary.com, the median expected salary for the average operating room staff nurse is $65,183 annually, while the annual salary of an operating room head nurse ranges from $81,294 to $110,296.