What Does an Orthopaedic Nurse Do?
Orthopaedic nurses care for patients with musculoskeletal diseases and disorders, such as arthritis, broken bones, joint replacements, fractures, diabetes, genetic malformations and osteoporosis. They evaluate how these types of problems will interfere with patients’ daily lives, and assist in providing the proper treatment to help patients overcome or live with their conditions. This can include teaching patients new ways to conduct personal tasks, helping them redesign their personal space for better functionality, and providing them with information about resources, such as support groups or assistance programs. When the treatment of musculoskeletal problems require patients to undergo surgery, orthpaedic nurses assist orthopaedic doctors with operations and care for patients afterward to help them recover their mobility and strength. As musculoskeletal experts, these nurses are specially trained in skills like neurovascular status monitoring, casting, traction, continuous motion therapy and external fixation care. Education is another important aspect of an orthopaedic nurse’s job, as they are responsible for teaching patients and their families about musculoskeletal diseases and disorders in regards to prevention, symptoms and treatments.
How Can I Become an Orthopaedic Nurse?
If you are interested in a career in orthopaedic nursing, you must earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, an associate degree in nursing, or complete a nursing diploma program. You will then need to take the NCLEX-RN examination in order to earn a license to practice nursing in your state. Those who want to further their education in orthopaedics and advance in their nursing careers can earn a master’s degree or doctorate in nursing. Before beginning your career as an orthopaedic nurse, it is important to gain experience working in areas such as critical care, emergency room, medical-surgical or oncology nursing. As more and more employers are requiring certification, you may want to consider becoming Orthopedic Nurse Certified through a professional organization like the Orthopaedic Nurses Certification Board. The board conducts a program of certification for qualified nurses who fulfill all eligibility requirements and pass a certification exam. The exam covers topics like degenerative disease, orthopaedic trauma, sports injuries, inflammatory disorders, operative orthopaedics, metabolic bone disease and orthopaedic oncology.
What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for an Orthopaedic Nurse?
From pediatrics to geriatrics, orthopedic nurses work with a variety of patients whose conditions are the result of disease or injury. Given the range of medical areas these specialized nurses are needed in, it is no surprise that the career outlook for orthopaedics is positive. Nurses in orthopaedics can choose to work in a variety of environments like orthopaedic units, emergency departments, operating rooms, trauma units, rehabilitation centers and home health agencies. Depending on their education and experience, orthopaedic nurses can work in positions as staff nurses, head nurses, clinical specialists, RN first assistants, nursing instructors, directors and nurse managers. Given the nature of their work, it is essential that nurses in this field not only have physical stamina, but good teamwork, people and communication skills. The salary outlook for orthopaedic nurses depends on the rank of position, as well as the type, size and location of the employer. According to PayScale, the median expected salary for certified orthopedic nurses working as RNs is $63,871, and $90,000 for those working as clinical nurse managers.