Nursing Jobs in the OR

An operating room (OR) nurse, which is sometimes also referred to as preoperative nurse, is a nursing specialty within the health care industry. An OR nurse will work closely with patients who are having invasive or operative procedures performed on them. The success of any operating room nurse requires all professionals work and communicate well with one another. Being an operating room nurse requires that you work well in a team, for in every procedure in the OR there will be surgeons, technologists, anesthesiologists and other nurses as well. Being an OR nurse requires that you have contact with patients, before, during and after their surgery and must be familiar with a wide variety of equipment, testing evaluations, medications and more. You must be able to think fast on your feet and work well under stressful situations.

Required Education and Expected Salary

An operating room nurse is a specialty within nursing so the first step is to become a registered nurse or RN. To be a certified RN you must first earn your degree and get a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or a BSN. This degree takes approximately 4 years to complete and includes both hands on practice and classroom education to graduate. Once you have your BSN you can take the national exam to become a RN. Once you have become an RN you can start to work while getting advanced certificates. There are several different certificates you can get depending on how advanced you want to be. Most RNs that want to start working in the OR will start with a Basic Life Support and Advanced Cardiac Life Support Certification. This will allow you to at least start working as a preoperative nurse and gain experience while you work on other certificates. The Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) is a great place to find all certificate courses as well as courses in continuous education.

The average salary for an operating room nurse is approximately $65,000 a year. The salary of an OR nurse can be effected by things like the state you work in, the amount and types of certificates you hold, the resources of the facility in which you are employed and years of experience. With every year of experience you should expect a salary increase.

Different Roles of an Operating Room Nurse

The job of any OR nurse can usually be broken down into three separate parts of caring for a patient.

  • Preoperative Nurse Care. At this step you will be prepping a patient for their procedure. You will check that blood work is done, that the patient has the correct information on their bracelet and often start an IV line. At this point you must be aware of any and all allergies and make sure they are clearly noted for the anesthesiologist.
  • OR Nursing. During the surgical procedure the OR nurse is an integral part of sterilizing all tools and equipment that might be used and works closely with the surgeon during the entire procedure.
  • Post-Operative Nurse. After the surgery you will start administering medication as well as inform the patient and family members of the surgery outcome and what they made need to do to help the patient recover.

Operating Room Nurse Practice

The work of OR nurses is usually done in hospital surgery wards but there are special day surgery units and ambulatory surgeries as well as clinics and private physician offices that require OR nurses as well.

Operating Room Nurse Advancement Opportunities

It is common for operating room nurses to advance within the health care industry after years in the OR. The OR can be a very rewarding place to work so one can choose to either advance within the OR team or leave the OR altogether if it just becomes too much. The most common advancement for those nurses wanting to stay in the OR is to become a nurse anesthetist. However, there are many paths to choose from like management, research, and sales.


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