How to become a Perioperative registered nurse

In this blog post, we will look at everything you need to know about perioperative registered nurses.

However, before we proceed, it remains of utmost importance to talk about who a perioperative registered nurse is.

Who is a Perioperative registered nurse

A perioperative registered nurse, or surgical nurse, is a registered nurse (RN) who specializes in providing care to patients undergoing surgical procedures. These nurses work in the perioperative setting, which includes the preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative phases of surgery.

The role of a perioperative registered nurse is to ensure the safety and well-being of patients throughout the surgical process.

They collaborate closely with surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other healthcare professionals to coordinate and deliver optimal care. Their responsibilities include assessing patients before surgery, preparing them for the procedure, assisting in the operating room, and providing postoperative care.

Perioperative nurses have specialized knowledge and skills in surgical nursing, sterile technique, infection control, and patient safety.

They are proficient in handling surgical instruments, maintaining a sterile environment, and monitoring patients’ vital signs and anesthesia administration during surgery. They also provide education and emotional support to patients and their families, addressing their concerns and ensuring they have a smooth recovery after surgery.

How to Become a Perioperative Registered Nurse

Becoming a perioperative nurse requires specific education, training, and certification. See below for more details;

Obtain a Nursing Degree

The first step is to complete a nursing program and earn either an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited institution.

A BSN degree is becoming increasingly preferred by employers and offers a broader foundation in nursing knowledge and skills.

To obtain a nursing degree as a prospective perioperative registered nurse, you can follow these general steps:

  1. Research Nursing Programs: Begin by researching nursing programs offered by accredited educational institutions. Look for programs that offer either an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Consider factors such as program curriculum, location, duration, cost, and admission requirements.
  2. Fulfill Prerequisite Requirements: Many nursing programs have prerequisite courses that must be completed before admission. These may include subjects like anatomy, physiology, microbiology, chemistry, and psychology. Review the specific prerequisite requirements of the programs you are interested in and complete any necessary courses.
  3. Apply to Nursing Programs: Once you have completed the prerequisite requirements, submit applications to the nursing programs of your choice. Follow the application instructions provided by each institution, which typically include submitting an application form, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Be aware of application deadlines and ensure you submit all required materials in a timely manner.
  4. Complete the Nursing Program: If accepted into a nursing program, you will embark on your journey to earn a nursing degree. Whether pursuing an ADN or BSN, the program will consist of classroom instruction, laboratory work, and clinical experiences in healthcare settings. The curriculum will cover essential nursing concepts, including medical-surgical nursing, pharmacology, nursing ethics, and health assessments.
  5. Clinical Rotations: As part of your nursing program, you will participate in clinical rotations, which provide hands-on experience in various healthcare settings. During these rotations, you will have the opportunity to observe and participate in perioperative nursing care, which will give you a glimpse into the field and help you determine if it aligns with your interests and goals.
How to become a Perioperative registered nurse
Photo by Laura James:

Obtain Licensure

After completing your nursing program, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become a licensed registered nurse (RN) in your state or country. Check the requirements of your specific jurisdiction for the licensing process.

Gain Experience

Acquire experience as a registered nurse, preferably in a setting that exposes you to surgical care. This can include working in an operating room, post-anesthesia care unit (PACU), or surgical ward.

This experience will provide valuable exposure to perioperative nursing practices and enhance your skills and knowledge.

Pursue Continuing Education

Engage in continuing education and professional development opportunities related to perioperative nursing.

Attend workshops, seminars, conferences, and online courses that focus on surgical nursing, sterile technique, infection control, and patient safety.

Perioperative nursing certification

See below;

Obtain Certification

While certification is not mandatory to practice as a perioperative nurse, it is highly recommended and may be required by some employers.

The main certification for perioperative nurses is the Certified Perioperative Nurse (CNOR) credential, offered by the Competency and Credentialing Institute (CCI).

To be eligible for the CNOR exam, you must have a minimum of two years and 2,400 hours of perioperative nursing experience. The exam assesses your knowledge and competency in perioperative nursing practice.

Certification demonstrates your commitment to professional development and validates your expertise in perioperative nursing. It can enhance your job prospects, earning potential, and professional growth.

Specialize or Gain Advanced Education

Perioperative nursing offers opportunities for specialization and advanced education. You can pursue additional certifications, such as the Certified Registered Nurse First Assistant (CRNFA) or Certified Surgical Services Manager (CSSM), to advance your career and expand your scope of practice.

Additionally, you may consider pursuing a Master’s degree in Nursing (MSN) with a specialization in perioperative nursing to take on leadership roles or become a perioperative nurse practitioner.

Importance of a Strong Foundation in Nursing

  • Holistic Patient Care: A strong educational foundation in nursing is vital as it equips perioperative nurses with the skills to provide holistic care, which is critical in the high-stress environment of the operating room.
  • Ethical and Legal Knowledge: Understanding the ethical and legal aspects of nursing care, particularly in a surgical setting, is essential. This includes patient rights, informed consent, and patient privacy.
  • Critical Thinking and Decision-Making: The fast-paced and often unpredictable nature of surgical care requires nurses to have excellent critical thinking and decision-making skills, which are honed through a comprehensive nursing education.

Perioperative nurse salary in the USA

Like in other nursing specialties, the salary of a perioperative nurse in the USA can vary depending on several factors, including location, level of experience, education, certifications, and the employing institution. Salaries can also differ between urban and rural areas.

The average salary range of a perioperative nurse is from $27 to $55 per hour. Annually, it ranges from $60 to $120.

Perioperative nurses often have specialized skills and knowledge, which may result in higher earning potential.

It’s also worth considering that salary ranges can differ based on the type of healthcare facility. Perioperative nurses working in hospitals, surgical centers, or specialized surgical hospitals may have different salary structures. Additionally, factors such as overtime pay, shift differentials, and benefits can affect overall compensation.

A final thought on Perioperative registered nurse

Perioperative registered nurses play a vital role in the surgical process, providing essential care and support to patients before, during, and after surgery.

Their extensive knowledge, critical thinking abilities, technical skills, and compassion contribute to successful surgical outcomes and patient safety. Perioperative nursing requires a strong commitment to continuous learning and professional development to stay current with evolving practices and advancements in surgical care.

By embracing the core qualities of perioperative nursing and obtaining relevant certifications, these dedicated professionals make a significant impact on the lives of patients and contribute to the overall success of surgical teams.

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