operating room nurse

Operating Room Nurses

operating room nurseNurses who work in the operating room are affectionately nicknamed “Scrub Nurses”, but the official name for operating room nurses is Perioperative Nurse. In the operating room perioperative nurses are the primary assistants for the surgeons.

Perioperative nursing is exciting but also very demanding. Perioperative nurses are registered nurses that work in various surgical departments such as the operating room, clinics, ambulatory surgery units, outpatient surgical facilities and in physician’s offices.

Perioperative nurses help evaluate, plan, and implement the treatment for a surgical patient. They also work closely with the surgical patient, their family members and other involved healthcare professionals.

Perioperative nurses serve in a variety of roles such as: The scrub nurse who is the nurse who will assist during surgical procedures, selecting and handling the various surgical instruments and supplies used during the operation of the patient.

The circulating nurse is the perioperative nurse that manages the overall nursing care in the operating room during surgery and also helps to maintain clean, safe and comfortable environment in the operating room. Perioperative nurses who serve as the RN first assistant delivers hands on direct surgical care by assisting the surgeons with controlling any bleeding, wound exposure, and also any suturing needed during the surgical procedure. Perioperatives also serve in the capacity as operating room director, where they will manage staffing requirements, operating room budgets, and other business aspects related to the operating room. They also serve as management consultants, clinical educators, researchers, nurse anesthetists and medical sales professionals. A growing number of them are working in women’s health and can be found in the labor and delivery room assisting the physicians delivering infants.

Patients often meet at least one of these nurses before surgery who will provide much needed reassurance, answer questions, and help comfort and ease the patient’s anxiety prior to surgery. They also do the same with the patient’s family members to help ease their anxiety as well. This requires a high caring and empathetic mentality. Emotional stability is a must for these nurses.

They must have a high level of physical and mental stamina as surgical procedures can last for many hours. They must also have a very high attention to detail. Other aspects of this job include being able to direct other and delegate tasks and responsibilities, determining when consultation is required, accept various responsibilities, making critical decisions based on the current available information about the patient as well as coordinate the patients’ healthcare.

Perioperative nurses must be proficient self starters, have good communication skills, excellent problem solving abilities, and exceptional leadership skills. They will come into contact with all sorts of people and the ability to interact seamlessly with them is a must.

Since perioperative nursing is a specialty field, potential candidates must gain a certain amount of required experience in order to work in this field of nursing. Working in the emergency room or in a critical care setting is a start in gaining the needed experience to work in the operating room. Perioperative nursing, much like the emergency room, can be very fast paced and at times stressful, both physically and mentally.

RNs with a four year Bachelors of Science degree in nursing (BSN) can begin to work towards entering the perioperative field right away without any limitations, where as a RN with only an Associates degree of Science in Nursing (ASN) will have a more limited and technical scope of practice. But one aspect that ASN degreed nurses take advantage of, is after they enter the workplace, after a period of time working in their profession, ASNs often take advantage of employer tuition assistance programs that allow them to save a tremendous amount of money when the go back to school for their bachelors degree.

Those who apply for the voluntary perioperative nursing certification must hold an active RN license and have completed at least 2,400 hours of documented perioperative nursing experience. They must also pass an exam covering intraoperative activities, preoperative assessment and diagnosis, instrument care and handling, communication, emergencies and other relevant topics before earning their Certification as Perioperative Nurse.

Additionally some of them further their education by again taking advantage of employer tuition assistance programs to earn their Masters Degree and go on to become Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Anesthetists where they earn a lot more money and have greater autonomy in their work.

The need for them is growing each year and with new positions being created in this field of nursing, a perioperative nurse will have more choices in which area of this field they wish to work in whether it be in a hospital operating room, and outpatient surgical facility or ambulatory surgical center.

They generally work the typical eight or 10 hour shifts and most work during the day, but are often called in nights, weekends and holidays to assist with emergency surgeries.

An operating room nurse can expect to earn an annual salary of ranging between $55,000.00 and $85,000.00 per year. And the average median income for is around $70,000.00 per year.

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George Tall

Author at Hug Your Nurse
George Tall works in the legal field, is a father of three, and a husband of a RN for 25 years. He enjoys writing about everything, especially nursing! He has been writing for a living, at least partially, since around 2000. As an author on dozens of websites, he enjoys being factual, while spinning a bit of humor where possible.
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9 thoughts on “Operating Room Nurses

  1. Sal Hagood

    Can you tell me what the average nurse pay is where your wife works? I’m from London and I was just curius about the pay scale in the states. Thanks!


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