Unlike a registered nurse (RN) who can work in a wide variety of environments, a surgical nurse works only in surgery. A surgical nurse is the voice of the patient in the operating room. Before the operation, the surgical nurse tends to the patient's mental and emotional well-being, while during the operation, the nurse cares for the patient's physical well being and assists the surgeon with equipment and other needs. All surgical nurses must be licensed registered nurses first before going on to specialize in surgery.
Becoming a Registered Nurse
1. Get a high school diploma. Admission into a school of nursing requires a high school diploma or, alternately, passing the General Education Development (GED) test. If you want to be a nurse, pay attention to your performance, skill, and interest in courses like biology, physiology, and chemistry throughout high school. The knowledge from these courses will be important in your post-secondary education.
2. Undertake post-secondary education in nursing. There are three ways to become a registered nurse. Whatever path you choose, the coursework involved will include physiology, biology, chemistry, nutrition, and anatomy.
3. Make sure your school is accredited. The national accreditation agency for nursing schools is the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. This agency ensures the quality and integrity of bachelor, graduate, and residency programs in nursing. Accreditation is voluntary but ensures that colleges and schools providing nursing education are operating at the same professional level and educating future nurses in a manner which ensures that they can provide effective and standardized care.
4. Get some experience in working in surgery. During your nursing program, you will do a rotation in surgery for a brief time. This is an ideal time to discover whether this is an area you'd like to work in in the future.
5. Get licensed. Registered nurses in the United States must have a nursing license. Take the National Council Licensure Examination - Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN) once you have graduated from your accredited program and thus have completed the appropriate education requirements. This test is the nationally recognized licensing exam for registered nurses.
6. Find a job as a nurse. There are more than two million nurses in the United States, making the position the largest in the healthcare field. There are a variety of settings in which a nurse can work, including hospitals, physician's offices, elderly care homes, prisons, college campuses and schools.
Specializing in Surgery
1. Work as a registered nurse. As an RN, you can work in the surgical area after graduating and getting your nursing license; however, specialization and certification in surgical nursing, also known as perioperative nursing, will enable you to work in specialized roles and earn more money. Most specialized educational programs, however, require a minimum amount of clinical experience as an RN before you can enroll in the program. These requirements vary upon the area in which you live. On average, the required length of time is one to two years.
2. Get perioperative nursing training. Additional training to become a surgical nurse typically involves a two-year program in which you focus solely on the skills and professional knowledge necessary to work within the operating room. Upon completion of this program, you will have a recognized specialty in surgery-related care.
3. Pass the Certified Nurse Operating Room Exam (CNOR). In order to obtain specialized roles in the operating room and receive a higher pay scale, surgical nurses are often required to pass a certification examination. An initial certification, the CNOR is offered by the Competency and Credentialing Institute for perioperative RNs.
4. Determine which nursing role in surgery you would like to have. Inside the operating room, surgical nurses play one of four different roles.
5. Consider specializing in a specific surgical field. After your initial certification, you can also specialize in specific types of surgical fields, such as Certified Plastic Surgical Nurse, Adult Cardiac Surgery Subspecialty Certification, Certified Bariatric Nurse as well as Registered Nurse First Assistant, mentioned above.