Operating Room Nurse

What Is an Operating Room Nurse?

The Perioperative or ‘OR’ Nurse collaborates with the patient undergoing surgery, their family, and as a member of the diverse care team. The OR nurse assists in evaluating the patient and then plans and executes various processes leading up to, during, and following operation. Nurses who thrive on direct patient care and a high rate of change may like working in the operating room.

Becoming a Nurse in an Operating Room

Consistently searching for perioperative job postings within local hospitals or medical networks is the most effective strategy for nurses to locate positions for which they are qualified to apply.

Nurses who have recently graduated and obtained licensure may be required to do an internship that combines didactic and practical components before being deemed ready to perform the function independently.

Experienced nurses coming from a different specialty and background will face a similar lengthy orientation and learning curve to the OR role, but it may be shorter due to their past knowledge and expertise.

What Education Do Operating Room Nurses Need?

A valid RN licensure is required for perioperative nursing roles. This can be accomplished by finishing a minimum of a two-year Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) program. Although a BSN is not needed for all operating room nursing employment, companies prefer it. Certain organizations may ask that an applicant promise to complete a bachelor’s degree within a specified time period following hire.

Perioperative nursing roles are often available to newly graduated registered nurses who have completed an internship program successfully, as well as to experienced nurses with at least one year of bedside experience.

Are there any required certifications or credentials?

The Association for Perioperative Registered Nurses (AORN) maintains a list of numerous certifications available for various tasks within the operating room (OR):

  • CNOR for perioperative registered nurses
    CRNFA for First Assisting Surgeons
    CSSM for OR Managers with a bachelor’s degree
    CNS-CP for Clinical Nurse Specialists with a Master’s degree
    RELATED: Four Specializations for OR Nurses

What Types of Jobs Do Operating Room Nurses Have?

Perioperative nurses are often employed in hospitals, outpatient surgical centers, and physician’s offices.

Operating Room or Perioperative Nurse Roles

The words ‘Operating Room’, ‘OR’, and ‘Perioperative’ nurse are essentially umbrella terminology that refer to a variety of various responsibilities inside the surgical department:

  • RN Pre-Operative RN RN Intra-Operative RN
  • RN, Post-Operative or PACU
  • Role of the Pre-Operative Nurse

The Pre-Op nurse is responsible for preparing the patient for a surgical operation. These may include taking vital signs and obtaining a health history, initiating intravenous catheters (IVs), conducting a thorough head-to-toe assessment to ensure the patient’s condition is stable enough for surgery, ensuring that all necessary paperwork is completed, and providing emotional support and education to the patient and family.

The Intra-Operative Nurse’s Role

The Intra-Op nurse works within the operating room, and this function also has distinct roles. The nurse may be aiding the surgeon in his or her role as a Circulator, ensuring a sterile and regulated environment is maintained. Additionally, this nurse ensures that all necessary people, equipment, and supplies are on hand, as well as completing required paperwork and ensuring that everyone entering the OR is a necessary and documented addition to the environment.

The Post-Operative Nursing Role

The Post-Op, or PACU, nurse works in the recovery room and receives the patient immediately following surgery. The patient will either be regaining consciousness following anesthesia or will be awake but still quite tired. Throughout this period, the Post-Op nurse keeps an eye out for problems. Typically, patients remain in the recovery room for 1-3 hours, depending on their condition and the hospital’s guidelines. The PACU nurse then releases the patient home or moves them to another floor of the hospital or ICU for further safe care.

What Are the Duties and Responsibilities of an OR Nurse?

  • Coordination of the supply, instruments, and equipment used in operative care
  • Assures that equipment is operating properly.
  • Maintains high standards for patient safety
  • Monitors, documents, and communicates with the interdisciplinary team on the patient’s status and needs.
  • Manages the patient’s total care prior to, during, and after the surgical process
  • Advocates on the patient’s behalf
  • Preoperative and intraoperative treatment is documented in line with the surgeon’s, hospital’s, and regulatory bodies’ specifications.
  • Assesses, remediates, and documents the surgical environment in order to ensure it is aseptic.
  • Provides patient care with an awareness of age- and culture-specific requirements
  • Addresses the patient’s biological, emotional, developmental, psychological, and educational state, as well as any concerns.
  • Coordinating professional growth within the scope of their practice
  • Executes essential work responsibilities with little supervision

Salary and Employment for Operating Room Nurses

Even with an emphasis on preventative care, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that perioperative nursing roles will grow by nearly 19 percent over the next decade. While job growth rates vary by region, being adjacent to major hospitals and teaching centers may result in a higher rate of perioperative jobs and progression prospects than living in less metropolitan areas.

Operating room nurses earn a median pay of $66,713, ranging from $49,419 to $93,569. Salary is affected by location, experience, education, and qualifications.